Colby Community College announced the speaker at the Dec. 12 Norton Correctional Facility commencement ceremony is Western Plains Energy Chief Executive Officer Derek Peine.

Peine, who holds a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from Kansas State University, has spent his entire professional career in production management roles within the agricultural sector. He began in the corn wet milling and vegetable oil extraction industries. There, he learned how to apply his educational skills into real-world practices and began to better understand the overall business aspects of production industries. In 2005, he applied his experience to the fuel ethanol industry. He has been involved in the startup of an ethanol plant, project development of ethanol plants, management of an ethanol plant abroad, and has served in his current role for the last nine years.

At the commencement celebration, 13 individuals will have an associate of applied science degree and technical certificate in wind energy confirmed, and 21 students will receive a certificate of completion in wind technology.

Colby Community College has offered education in the Norton Correctional Facility for over a decade, beginning with work and life skills courses in 2010. Today, the college has multiple instructors and partnerships with industry and community stakeholders to support programming. Inmates nearing release have opportunities to earn a GED and choose to obtain certifications in telecommunications and welding or an associate of applied science in sustainable/renewable energy. Upon completion, the students have industry credentials to enter the workforce.