In addition to external partnerships with such organizations as The National Climate Assessment (NCA), The Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), and the University of Florida’s corn growth computer model, Monsanto also maintains a number of farmer- and stakeholder-specific programs on its own.
The America’s Farmers Grow America program continued its success in 2011. Over 520 million people have been reached by the program through various media. The awareness that U.S. farmers are the most productive, environmentally sustainable producers in the world continues to grow. Monsanto advocated for farmers and farm women and supported agriculture communities throughout 2011. With its ever evolving success, the America’s Farmers Grow America program extended its reach to positively impact rural ag youth with the newest segment of community support sponsored by the Monsanto Fund, America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education.
America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education gives farmers the opportunity to nominate a public school district in their rural community to compete for a grant of either US$10,000 or US$25,000 to enhance education in the areas of science and/or math. School districts that apply for a US$10,000 grant compete against other school districts that are located in the USDA-designated Crop Reporting District (CRD). A school district that applies for a US$25,000 grant will compete against schools that are located in its state or designated region. 177 grants of US$10,000 and 22 grants of US$25,000 were awarded. Overall, the Monsanto Fund donated more than US$2.3 million to school districts in 39 states through this program in 2011.
The America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education Advisory Council selects the winning grant applications from public school districts. This Advisory Council is made up of 26 farmer leaders from across the country who are actively engaged in their local communities through various leadership positions. These individuals are passionate about both agriculture and education, which is essential when choosing the best grant application. The program started with a successful pilot in Illinois and Minnesota, in which farmers were given the opportunity to nominate a public school district in 165 eligible counties in those two states. The Monsanto Fund awarded more than US$266,000 to local schools in 16 Crop Reporting Districts through the pilot.
The America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education program is part of a broad commitment by the Monsanto Fund to highlight the important contributions farmers make every day to our society by helping them develop their youth.
Monsanto’s Gothenburg Water Utilization Learning Center: In Nebraska, our Gothenburg Water Utilization Learning Center provides answers and solutions to current questions and issues raised in production agriculture. With a 324-acre research farm and more than 80 demonstrations, the center displays how farmers can use systems-based agriculture to manage drought and improve yields while using fewer inputs such as water and fertilizer. One of the most visually impactful demonstrations shows farmers the preferred ways to prepare for drought conditions from a genetic, trait and agronomic systems standpoint. In addition to showcasing our drought-tolerant pipeline technologies derived through breeding and biotechnology, the center demonstrates a systems-based approach to help farmers manage dry conditions, the effects of planting population and row spacing under various irrigation regimes, and irrigation management options for limited water.
The center has the ability to reach a diverse group of people to demonstrate how our technologies can help farmers produce more while conserving more. In 2011, nearly 4,000 people visited the center—including farmers, dealers, retailers, crop consultants, company executives, members of non-governmental agencies, politicians, university personnel and journalists.
Research Center Tour Program: Visiting our research centers is a unique opportunity to see, touch and feel the science that is dedicated to improving the agricultural productivity of the seeds that are planted on farms around the world. In addition, visitors to Monsanto’s research facilities meet and talk with the men and women who are committed to increasing the quality and quantity of the food needed by an ever-growing global population. Monsanto has hosted visitors for two decades. In 2011, 14,302 visitors experienced first-hand the research labs, growth chambers and greenhouses, while meeting the people who are working to improve yields, control pests and improve product qualities.
Guests come from around the world and all walks of life. Growers, agri-business, students and teachers comprised 79 percent of visitors last year. Government officials, members of the media, Monsanto employees, and community and civil society leaders completed the guest list.
Experience has shown that each person arrives for a tour with their own perceptions of the world, the problems that face the planet and ideas of what should be done to ensure a positive future. As they leave, many say they have new information to think about; what seemed simple is more complex than they once thought, and that their understanding of agriculture has expanded.
This article is excerpted from Monsanto’s 2011 Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability Report. To see the full report, please visit Monsanto.com.