Editor’s note: Rory Herron is one of two UK interns spending their summer at Monsanto’s global headquarters, under a program with Scotland’s Saltire Foundation. The Saltire Foundation is an independent charitable organization representing a new vision for Scotland, providing invaluable opportunities through experience, learning and business networking. Its undergraduate internship programme offers Scotland’s students the chance to spend 8 weeks working at a top multinational company with the aim of encouraging candidates to develop their confidence, skills and capacity to succeed.
By Rory Herron
I am now just over the half-way point in my 8-week Corporate Marketing & Communications internship at Monsanto in St. Louis.
Before starting my internship I already knew that Monsanto was a global employer of over 25,000 people worldwide and its Global HQ here in St. Louis is the workplace of some 5000 St. Lousians – people who call St. Louis home.
These people are proud to live here. It is where they have a house, spend time with friends, raise their family and most importantly, follow the St. Louis Cardinals. The community here is their community and in light of that, employees here have clocked more than 10,000 hours of volunteer work over the past year.
While the bulk of the company’s operations are carried out on a global scale, the company’s charity wing The Monsanto Fund is taking it upon itself to demonstrate Monsanto’s commitment to the community in the city of St. Louis with their new Grow St Louis project.
Last week (August 9th), I made my way to the Jewel Box in Forest Park; the location of the launch of this new project, which is the latest within Monsanto’s larger “St. Louis Grown” campaign. At the launch, Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant introduced Grow St. Louis as a pledge to award money to local schools or non-profit organizations who contribute to society here in St. Louis. Sums of cash will be awarded each quarter (to the organizations or schools who receive the most votes from the citizens of St. Louis) in order to fund winning projects and help make a real difference in the community.
To me, community is extremely important. Despite moving from a small town called Limavady in Northern Ireland, to the Scottish city of Glasgow, to gain my chosen university degree, my roots are very important to me–and Limavady will always be home. It’s where I went to school, had my first job, represented my community on the sports field and made lifelong friends. From Scotland, I still follow my local Gaelic Football fixtures at both club- (town) and county-level, keep up-to-date with local news, and speak to friends and family all the time.
My parents, who are both teachers, are well known for volunteering in Limavady’s community and my father’s volunteer work is honorable in the same way that the volunteering performed by Monsanto employees in St. Louis is honorable. Not only does he sit on the board of a local initiative to encourage cross-community development between Catholics and Protestants (encouraging the community to serve the community) but he is also one of the leaders of our town’s branch of the St. Vincent de Paul society. This charity has branches all over Ireland and represents a unique network of social concern, giving practical support to those experiencing poverty and social exclusion, by providing a wide range of services to people in need. One example of the work that they do is an annual toy-campaign before Christmas time where poorer families can apply to receive presents (donated by others in the community) to give to their children on Christmas morning.
The work that my father does is inspiring, in the same way that Grow St. Louis will be. The quarterly grants will be $15,000, $10,000 and $5,000 but Hugh Grant noted that these initiatives always start out small, and with momentum and support there is just no telling what this could lead to for the city and the citizens of St. Louis. YWCA CEO Adrian Bracy stressed the importance of collaboration between businesses, NGOs and government in strengthening the local community and St. Louis’ Mayor Slay took it upon himself to name August 9th “Grow St. Louis Day”, ensuring that it will become an annual milestone in the community calendar. I may be a couple of hundred thousand miles from home, but no matter where you are in the world, it’s refreshing to see that community ethos remains the same.
My fellow intern Kitty and I will be volunteering at Community Cuts for Kids this coming Sunday at the Monsanto YMCA on Page Boulevard. Unfortunately this won’t count towards the 10,000 hours done by Monsanto employees this year, but we are looking forward to it all the same!
In the meantime, thanks for reading and good luck to all the applicants for the Grow St. Louis project!