STEM and Education

Inspiring the next generation of innovators

The reality is that agriculture is undergoing rapid change. The digital revolution, climate change, advances in genetics and microbial science, changes in consumer preferences in developed and developing countries, and many other trends are all producing a powerful upheaval and need for innovation – which in turn is generating a demand for new jobs.

- Robb Fraley, Chief Technology Officer at Monsanto

To meet the changing needs of the food and agriculture industry, skills in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) are essential. Every person depends on food to survive, and without a STEM-educated workforce we will not be able to meet the challenge of making a balanced meal accessible to everyone around the world. The future of food security of which production and availability are critical components lies in the hands of students being educated today.

The Challenge:

There are not enough young people educated in the STEM fields to meet the growing demands of the industry. Between now and 2020, about 58,000 jobs are likely to open each year in food and ag, according to a study published last year by the US Department of Agriculture and Purdue University. And the strongest demand, the study showed, is for STEM dependent jobs like plant scientists, water-resource scientists and engineers, and precision ag specialists, among other positions. Despite this need, the percentage of students pursuing a career in STEM has declined. According to a report by the US Department of Education only 16 percent of American high school seniors are proficient in math and interested in a STEM career. Even among those who do pursue a college major in the STEM fields, only about half choose to work in a related career.

Taking Action:

At Monsanto we’re using our voice, resources, technology, and people through collaborations to build the STEM knowledge and skills necessary to meet the growing workforce demands of the food and agriculture industry.

Some of the initiatives in which we’re currently involved include:

FIRST Robotics – Monsanto sponsors the FIRST Championship, a high energy event where teams of young students design, build, and program robots to complete designated tasks in a field of competitor robots. FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) works to give young students hands on experience with science and technology; inspiring the next generation of young innovators.

Feed, Nourish, Thrive Campaign – Developed by the STEM Food and Ag Council, a project of STEMConnector®, of which Monsanto is a member, the campaign aims to increase the number of people working to feed the planet’s growing population through STEM careers. The campaign’s online platform connects users to STEM education resources and career opportunities.

Women in STEM - While women make up about half of the workforce in the United States, they only fill 25 percent of the jobs in STEM fields. We believe inclusion and diversity are key elements to success; great ideas and backgrounds coming together to create new innovations and discoveries. That’s why we’re working to improve opportunities for young girls to get involved with STEM education early, as well as helping to improve the visibility and availability of female role models in STEM careers.

University Outreach – We reach students by participating in science conversations at universities and partnering with student groups. Monsanto and the Net Impact student organization co-founded #Nourishing 9B Solution Labs, designed to help students work side by side with food system experts, engage on critical issues and develop solutions that could change the world. Experts include academics, industry leaders, government agencies and NGOs. 

This is an example of STEM investment in action and empowers the next generation to make a real difference in ensuring access to balanced meals.

Monsanto Beachell-Borlaug International Scholars Program (MBBISP) – This global program has helped more than 80 scholars pursue careers in plant breeding and related science fields focused on improving wheat and rice crops – the world's largest food crops. Thirty scholars have already finished the program and nearly half of those graduates are now working in the public sector. Visit our website to learn more about MBBISP.

MONSANTO FUND

The Monsanto Fund, the philanthropic arm of the Monsanto Company, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening the communities where farmers and Monsanto Company employees live and work.

America’s FarmersSponsored by the Monsanto Fund, America’s Farmers programs work to make a positive impact in rural America through the support of communities, schools and youth. The programs have awarded more than $29 million across the United States since 2010.

  • America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education encourages farmers to nominate their local public school district to apply for $10,000 and $25,000 grants to enhance math and science education. In 2015, we awarded $2.3 million to 164 rural public school districts.
  • America’s Farmers Grow Ag Leaders is a scholarship program that provides students an opportunity to earn a one-year $1,500 scholarship to help fund their education in an ag-related field. In 2015, the program awarded $528,000 to 352 deserving students.