By Tracy Rake
I just returned from Baltimore, Maryland, and the Wildlife Habitat Council’s 25th Annual Symposium. It’s still amazing to me that there’s an organization dedicated to partnering with businesses to support conservation on corporate lands. What doesn’t surprise me is that Monsanto has a significant presence and partnership with WHC.
Part of WHC’s mission is to partner with corporations to create wild life habitats and develop conservation education programs that support a partnership with the companies and communities in which they operate. This aligns perfectly with our sense of who we are, how we want to do business, and our commitment to our communities.
The symposium offered several learning sessions over the course of the two days, exhibits from different companies and organizations and several awards highlighting companies and sites which have done tremendous work in conservation and education. It was an excellent learning and networking opportunity.
I’m a member of the Wildlife Team at Monsanto’s Luling, Louisiana, site, new to the group this year. There were other Monsanto team members there representing Soda Springs, Idaho, Muscatine, Iowa, and Creve Coeur, Missouri. In fact, our Muscatine group was a finalist in the Prairies for Tomorrow Award. It was a great opportunity to learn from peers!
At Luling, like all of our sites which are WHC certified, we are a group of volunteers. We all have “day jobs,” yet we’re drawn to give our time to this passion. I hope that my team members and I who attended together will bring back some new ideas to support the great efforts already achieved here.
At the plant, we support a variety of wildlife (yes, in a manufacturing plant). We have rain water collection canals and ponds that provide habitat for not only local wildlife but for migratory species as well. Our team has added several nesting stations for birds and bats. One of our biggest accomplishments was the creation of a nature trail and habitat near our picnic/recreation area. In the process of creating this facility, we’ve been able to partner with local school students and Scouts who have used it as an opportunity to work with us on their community service projects, host field trips for classes and provide managed habitat for land and water animals. The next project currently underway is the construction of a butterfly dome as we work to provide habitat for critical pollinators.
What we learned at the symposium supports our desire to expand our connection with the community and build stronger education programs with our local schools. In a session that connected the learning opportunities in our habitat sites to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education, we found valuable ways to help create excitement around these critical fields. Engaging young people to consider these areas for their future careers supports Monsanto’s need for talent.
Please check out the Council’s website, www.wildlifehc.org, to learn more about this organization and Monsanto’s participation. Look under certification, then registry of certified programs, and search by Monsanto, you will find 15 certified sites, Fifteen! Details are available about what each site is doing with the “learn more” links. If you check this out and don’t see your site listed, ask yourself, “Why not us?”