I am frequently asked why I think basic education, continuing education and technical training is important and how it benefits both company and employee. It’s the continuous improvement ‘bones’ in me that makes me not only want to improve myself, but improve others around me. I think that’s done through knowledge and learning and that’s why I feel so strongly about education and training. At Cherney, we’ve always been a group of geeky learners (note the picture of "Sid the Science Kid" from PBS who I watch with my 2.5 year old granddaughter). We all just can’t seem to get enough!
One of our strategic objectives is that we expect ALL full-time employees in the company to complete a minimum of 8 hours of some type of education or training within the calendar year. In 2013, over 80% of Cherney team members logged 40+ hours; in 2014, over a quarter of our employees have already surpassed our strategic objective for this year.
Over the years, I have enjoyed opportunities to present information at forums like Wisconsin Laboratory Association (WLA) and other industry conferences. Topics like Proficiency Testing – What does it mean and how do I use it?, Sampling Plans, I’ve Got an Environmental Positive – Now What? are some of my past topics. In 2 short months- I will also be presenting at this spring’s WLA workshop Common Laboratory Errors – Learning from Mistakes, Preventing their Reoccurrences. This presentation allows me to share real life experiences that almost any lab can relate to. I think it’s very important to provide practical, “I can go home and use this tomorrow” type training to really make the time spent away from one's job valuable to both you and your company. It has always been a dream of mine to provide answers and improvements for laboratories via information transfer and technical training. When I built our original facility on Huron Road, my desire was to have a training center. It turned out that it was not a practical use of space at that time. Our expansion in 2011-2012 however allowed us to dedicate a significant amount of square footage for classroom space.
And now that Cherney has its own venue, I felt it was time to develop and offer practical workshops on food microbiology. We hear so often, “I have these results, what do they mean” or “please explain the difference between /g and /MPN.” In February, Cherney partnered with BioMerieux to present a workshop called “Introduction to Food Microbiology – The Basics”. It was a two-day, hands-on practical training event that incorporated lecture, demonstration and lab practical. We spent time on the basics (general microbiology, GLP’s, methods, colony morphology) and on “hot” topics such as environmental monitoring programs, recent recalls and foodborne illness. Our class was filled with people from the dairy, nutraceutical, non-woven, tobacco and even competitor labs and we had amazing feedback.
So... as posted on our website, e-blasted to our customers and colleagues in the past few days, Cherney has announced dates for 3 more sessions in 2014. This isn’t just a course for professionals within the food industry – it's a course for anyone who wants to increase their technical knowledge. Our tailored approach lets both Dr. Kathy Knutson (Cherney’s Project Manager) and me utilize our knowledge and industry experience in a whole new way! Here is an overview of what the course entails.
For those who braved the cold, Wisconsin weather in February, we thank you! If you are considering coming to visit later this year – it’s a great getaway location and the weather will be gorgeous for any of the upcoming sessions!