Have you ever taken an opportunity to step out of your comfort zone? I can think of many times where I have taken opportunities like this, and they’ve always ended up being significant growth experiences with lasting benefits. I remember the first time I went to a livestock judging contest when I was 7 years old – I was terrified because I wasn’t fully prepared for what I was getting into, but after 12 years of livestock judging I had countless experiences that taught me critical thinking, confidence, hard work, and a love for challenge. The skills I learned back then continue to serve me well as I continue through college and into the workplace. I had a similar experience this summer in my internship as a regulatory food/feed composition and nutrition intern at Monsanto in St. Louis, MO.
Although I have a strong agriculture background, it is primarily in livestock so I knew very little about crops before working at Monsanto. As the time came for me to move to St. Louis, I was excited to learn more about crops and biotechnology and learn more about how a company works from the inside, but to say the least, it was out of my comfort zone. Because Monsanto is a large company I was nervous about my contributions, what I would learn about Monsanto, and how people would see me after having worked for Monsanto, a company that some equate to evil. Regardless of your own views on biotechnology, I’m happy to say that I have been impressed by the integrity of Monsanto since day one.
In the two-day orientation, I learned that Monsanto utilizes breeding and biotechnology along with agronomic solutions to develop products that help farmers throughout the world produce more while using less land, water, and pesticides. After orientation I was soon assigned projects to work on throughout the summer. Although my projects were a huge part of my time spent with the company, I learned so much more away from my desk.
You know the idea that “agriculture feeds the world?” While my generation of agriculturalists has gravitated towards that mantra, the majority of farmers don’t really set out to feed the world when they wake up each morning. They love farming and seek to provide for their families. Since the global food system is so complex, individual agriculturalists aren’t the ones strategizing how they can “feed the world.” Luckily, there are people who want to support farmers in their efforts and can work together to facilitate increased agriculture production so that we can benefit society by feeding more mouths around the world in a responsible way.
I view Monsanto as one of the team players in this effort to help agriculture feed the world and their commitment to this effort has been the most impressive thing I’ve gained from my time with them. They have the ability to organize science, technology, business and communication experts in a way that supports farmers in producing food more efficiently, while ultimately benefitting society.
While I was continually reminded of this commitment in conversations with people throughout the company and tours of the facilities, I realized the tangible outcomes of this commitment when I attended the Sustainability Yield Pledge Awards one morning. The ceremony recognized contributions made by Monsanto employees around the world to support communities where Monsanto is involved. Efforts that were highlighted included helping farmers increase their yields in Hungary; re-establishing underground water levels in Peru; helping a community in India improve their quality of life by providing better nutrition and nutrition education in their schools, hosting education programs for farmers, and getting clean water for families; making sure farmers in the U.S. have the right tools to better manage tough weeds; enhancing technology in rural America’s schools; and collaborating with others to provide solutions for honey bee health. I was completely blown away by this snapshot of the ways Monsanto employees were contributing to their communities around the world to support the overall goal of sustainable agriculture.
This experience really made me think about the teamwork that must exist within and outside of the agriculture industry for us to move forward in feeding our growing population in a responsible manner. From consumer to farmers and ranchers and everyone in between, we must all be on this team together. Not a single person or even a single company can achieve the feat of feeding the world – no, we must work together and respect the work that each teammate contributes.
During my time with Monsanto, I worked on projects that analyze and explain nutrient composition of genetically modified crops, including sweet corn. I attended the farmer’s market on Monsanto’s campus where farmers who grow Monsanto products, including genetically modified sweet corn come to sell their vegetables. Every time I went, there were so many people waiting in line to get these delicious items. I had the very best tomato I’ve ever had and the tastiest sweet corn too!
I could go on and on about the awesome work going on throughout the various teams at Monsanto, it’s an impressive organization. After my experience, I am confident that my experience with this agriculture company will continue to yield benefits for many years to come. It was a privilege to contribute to their vision through my projects and I am proud that I was able to work for a company dedicated to progressing sustainable agriculture through its commitment to producing more, conserving more, and improving lives while maintaining integrity and stewardship with its practices.
I hope that we can all work together to continue making improvements to agriculture and learn to appreciate the diversity that each team member brings to the table whether from seed production to livestock or anywhere in between that supports them.
Go Team Agriculture!