KASNAS CITY — The Grain Elevator & Processing Society and Kansas State University have partnered to create a joint credentials program that will provide multiple and structured education, professional development, achievement and recognition opportunities for those in the grain handling and related industries, and for the first time establishes a career track in grain operations.

“Advancing lifelong learning and professionalism are our main goals,” said Dirk Maier, head of the K.S.U. Department of Grain Science and Industry. “This credentialing program provides opportunity for professional growth but requires commitment and effort. To get through it, people will have to dedicate the time to study and learn new concepts that will better prepare them to advance their careers.”

The credentials program was developed over the past two years by K.S.U. and GEAPS and builds on existing distance-education curriculum consisting of 14 distance education courses. It is expected to be expanded to 24 or more courses over the next four years.

“The program offers opportunities for professional development that have never existed before,” said Bill Lyster, president of GEAPS International. “This path that we have laid out will help those that are willing to show the initiative to earn formal credentials.”

The first credential is in grain operations management, which may be earned when participants complete a structured series of six GEAPS-K.S.U. distance education courses. Students that already have completed one or more of the six required courses automatically receive credit toward the Grain Operations Management Credential, the first of which is expected to be earned in 2012. Once the Grains Operations Management Credential is earned, participants may earn subsequent credentials in such areas as grain quality management grain handling equipment management and grain operations safety.

“The program offers benefits for both businesses and individuals,” said Mark Fedje, chairman of GEAPS International. “While companies get comprehensive, inexpensive and practical training options, employees will have new ways to improve their job skills, gain recognition for their effort and achievement and advance their careers.”

The courses usually consist of 10 one-hour Power Point lectures that run for about five weeks and may be viewed at any time of the day or week. Course tuition is $565 for GEAPS members and $735 for non-members. Material is peer reviewed and student progress is structured and supervised.

To retain credentials, participants must continue their education over a three-year period, either by completing an additional course or by taking other educational programs from K.S.U. and GEAPS. A masters’ level credential will become available in the future.

The program originally was debuted at Exchange 2012, GEAPS’ annual technical conference and exhibition held in Minneapolis in early March with additional details announced more recently.