University of Wisconsin-Platteville students turn flowers into cash

By Katie Wiedemann, KCRG-TV9

PLATTEVILE, Wis. — A new program at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville is teaching students how to turn natural resources into financial ones.

As University of Wisconsin Platteville Student Ryan Williams inspects a school sponsored sunflower field, he’s stepping closer to his career field.

Williams said, “I am hoping it leads to a career in renewability.”

The University recently created a new major called Sustainable and Renewable Energy Systems.

Students in the program harvest the sunflowers, then process and filter the seeds into cooking oil.

Williams is the salesman.

Williams said, “It has a slightly nutty flavor so it’s not super overwhelming but the best way I can explain it is a liquid sunflower seed.”

Students work with mangers at local markets and grocery stores. The farm to market process is hands on experience for jobs that professors say are in high demand.

University of Wisconsin-Platteville Professor Tim Zauche said, “We were first looking at making biodiesel but if I could sell it for $5 instead of. 50 cents, I am going to sell it for $5.”

But making a profit isn’t the program’s goal. Instead it’s a taste of what the future holds.

The students sell the oil at farmers markets and local grocery stores. It’s also for sale in the organic section at two of the Hy-Vee stores in Dubuque.

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