Environmental Science Students Visit Flint Hills Resources Pine Bend Refinery

Field trip provides insights on environmental stewardship and habitat restoration

Environmental Science students at Inver Hills Community College recently traveled to the Flint Hills Resources Pine Bend refinery in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota.

Accompanied by their instructor, Joe Beattie, the students were greeted at the North Administration Building by Katie Weatherly, Flint Hills public affairs coordinator, who introduced them to Don Kern, former engineering and facilities manager who retired in 2021 after spending 35 years with Flint Hills.

Lowell Stolte, Flint Hills environmental manager, gave a presentation in the building’s conference room, covering a range of topics, including how the refinery produces jet fuel, diesel fuel, gasoline, propane, asphalt, and heating fuels as well as chemicals needed to make fertilizers, medicines, plastics, and synthetic materials.

Lowell, who served as chair of the Dakota County Technical College Foundation board for eight years, also reported on refinery safety measures, clean air initiatives, water conservation and treatment, and flare management, adding that the Flint Hills Resources Pine Bend is one of the safest and most efficient refineries in the country. Shannon Olsen, Flint Hills environmental director, also addressed the Inver Hills students.

Joe Beattie serves as faculty in the college’s Environmental Science and Biology programs. Joe includes numerous field trips in his curriculum to give his students hands-on experience investigating different ecosystems and approaches to sustainability.

“Flint Hills Resources did a great job explaining how they have reduced emissions at their Rosemount refinery,” he said. “They also provided excellent insights into their ecological restoration efforts at Pine Bend.”

Informative Flint Hills Resources links

Pine Bend Bluffs tour

After Lowell Stolte’s presentation, which featured box lunches for everyone from Jimmy John’s, the students were taken on a shuttle-bus tour of the Flint Hills Resources 700-acre natural area, which is adjacent to the Pine Bend Bluff Scientific and Natural Area.

Don Kern led the tour, explaining how Flint Hills partners with environmental organizations to help support natural wildlife habitats with the goal to restore the area to conditions prior to human settlement. Ongoing projects include promoting bluebird nesting, maintaining snake hibernacula, clearing out invasive buckthorn, and planting native vegetation to boost the local monarch butterfly population.

Informative Flint Hills Resources links

Environmental Science Students Visit Flint Hills Pine Bend Refinery gallery

View more event photos by visiting the Inver Hills Flickr album:

Environmental Science Students Visit Flint Hills Pine Bend Refinery

Latest Environmental Science field trip

On Monday, November 28, 2022, Joe Beattie led his Environmental Science students on a field trip to a redevelopment project in South St. Paul called The Yards Apartments. The students got the chance to see how a 1970s redevelopment project has entered a new redevelopment phase with the goal to create equitable and sustainable housing.

Faculty spotlight: Joe Beattie

Joe Beattie

Joe Beattie teaches Environmental Science courses at Inver Hills. Before arriving at Inver this fall semester, Joe taught field biology and biology at Hastings High School, starting in that role in 1994. He holds a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Education from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota and Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Biology from St. John’s University, where he minored in French, his second language.

Joe was named Hastings Teacher of the Year by Education Minnesota in 2018. He was recognized by the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts as the 2011 Minnesota Teacher of the Year. Two years earlier, the Dakota County Soil and Water Conservation District named him Outstanding Conservationist. In 2004, the University of Minnesota honored him with an Outstanding Science Teacher award.

Joe is a member of several environmental organizations, including The Prairie Enthusiasts, Minnesota Native Plant Society, and Friends of the Mississippi River. His teaching philosophy emphasizes helping students engage with the natural world in innovative ways. He is dedicated to active, hands-on learning based on experimentation and analysis.

Learn more by reading:
“Program Spotlight: Environmental Science” on Inver Hills News

Learn more about Environmental Science at Inver Hills by contacting:

Joe Beattie
Environmental Science and Biology Faculty
Inver Hills Community College

More about the Environmental Science program at Inver Hills…

Housed primarily within the Biology department, our Environmental Science curriculum is taught by faculty with wide-ranging expertise and experience.

Benefiting from small classes, hands-on labs, and off-campus field trips, you will work closely with accomplished instructors with proficiency in the relevant science as well as a commitment to your success both academically and professionally.

Why Study Environmental Science at Inver Hills?

Explore life for a living.
Encompassing a massive array of disciplines both basic and applied, the life sciences can be defined as the study of life. Career paths in the life sciences include biochemist, microbiologist, industrial pharmacist, environmental scientist, wildlife biologist, and food scientist for starters.

Gain hands-on, real-world research experience.
We offer myriad opportunities for field and lab work. Our faculty supervise student research projects both on and off campus. We have active scientific studies on our own campus, including environmental monitoring and restoration programs in our 40-acre natural area.

It’s not just an education, it’s an adventure.
We partner with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and other organizations to provide research and learning opportunities in state parks and other locations. We offer trips to Malaysia and Puerto Rico where you can get the chance to protect coral reefs and collect data for international university studies.

Find your perfect environment on campus.
As an environmental science student, you’ll get to collaborate with fellow students, faculty, and staff on projects designed to give Inver Hills a sustainable campus. Potential projects involve the Inver Hills Community Garden and Orchard and proposed Unity Trail. Inver Hills was the first community college in Minnesota to be certified as a Bee Campus USA.

Protect our one and only planet.
Environmental science illuminates the best ways to conserve the Earth’s resources and ecosystems. Human overpopulation and consumption threaten not only our own survival, but also the lives of the estimated 8.7 million animal and plant species sharing our fragile globe.

Solve the toughest problems of our times.
Studying environmental science gives you the tools to face down BIG challenges. Take your pick from desertification, deforestation, pollution, waste disposal, endangered species, climate change, overdevelopment, water scarcity, and so forth. The list isn’t getting any shorter.

Turn your passion for the wonders of life into a baccalaureate degree.
Completing your A.S. in Environmental Science equips you with courses and credits that transfer to a four-year program in the same discipline or a related life science major such as wildlife management, ecology, plant and microbial biology, genetics, cell biology, and more.

Saving our Earth is job one.
Delving into the life sciences gives you dynamic access to numerous career field options, including biology, botany, zoology, medicine, biotechnology, ecology, genetic engineering, and much more. If you’re passionate about learning everything you can about life, Environmental Science at Inver Hills is your portal to success.

Career Opportunities

As an environmental scientist, you’ll investigate natural and human-made processes to find out how and why those processes interact to influence and oftentimes harm Earth’s complex biomes.

A career in environmental science could be just right for you if you’re seeking an integrated, interdisciplinary understanding of environmental systems and human impacts, plus a science-based approach to addressing issues that affect human, animal, and ecosystem health, along with the chance to learn real, hands-on methods that can prevent and solve environmental problems.


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