Collaborating With Others to Fight Global Hunger
By Trish Jordan, public and industry affairs lead, Monsanto Canada. Original post at Beyond the Rows.
One of the things I really love about my job is the opportunity it provides to build relationships with farmers and collaborate with external stakeholders to reach common goals.
Monsanto Canada engages in many partnerships – both in our day-to-day business activities and through our corporate engagement in the community. This week on a farm visit to rural Manitoba, I was reminded how fortunate I am to witness the benefit of partnering with others to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives.
The Canadian Foodgrains Bank is a Canadian-based non-governmental organization (NGO) that works with Canadian farmers, Canadian churches and other Canadians to end hunger in the world. They focus specifically on providing food-aid and development assistance to people in need by supporting international programs to meet immediate food needs, reduce malnutrition and achieve sustainable food security. They also focus on increasing and deepening the engagement of Canadians in the effort to end global hunger.
One of the unique ways the Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB) generates donations to carry out their mission is by working with farmers in rural communities across the country to grow a crop – wheat, soybeans, canola or pretty much any other crop – which is then harvested and donated to the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.
But this work doesn’t just involve farmers. Through Community Growing Projects, groups of people work together to plant, tend and harvest a crop. Proceeds from the sale of the crop are then donated to the Foodgrains Bank for use in its relief and development programs with resource-poor farmers and communities in the developing world.
Local businesses, as well as Canadian grain and life-science companies, also help by donating inputs such as seed, chemicals and fertilizer, and services such as trucking, insurance or promotion. Not only does this help keep production costs down, it fosters a sense of community spirit as local people work together to help others.
Monsanto Canada has been a strong supporter of the Community Growing Project program for almost 20 years, providing annual donations of seed, technology and crop inputs to farmers who volunteer their time to this important work. 2013 was the 30th anniversary of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank and in recognition of this important milestone, John Longhurst, director of resources and public engagement at the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, approached Monsanto Canada about partnering with them on a special project in its anniversary year.
It was an honor to be asked to lend a hand and after some brainstorming, we decided to seek a Monsanto Fund grant to allow for 30 new community growing projects, each of 30 acres, to be grown in rural communities across the country. A total of $100,000 was provided by the Monsanto Fund to support these new projects in 2013 and 2014.
Which brings me back to why I was at Tiny Creek Farms Ltd. this morning, on the farm of Bernie and Audrey Brandt. Joining the Brandts were Longhurst and the CFGB regional coordinator, Harold Penner, as well as Mark Reimer of Reimark Farms Inc., another long-time supporter who grew 30 acres of DEKALB soybeans to donate to the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.
The purpose of the visit was for these farmers and the Canadian Foodgrains Bank to thank Monsanto and the Monsanto Fund for our gifts and to share with me how the funds have been put to use. What was really rewarding was to hear about the impact our donation has had. The $100,000 Monsanto Fund gift that helped get 30 new community growing projects in the ground has generated 2.5 times the initial donation – all of which will go to helping feed and support hungry people in need!
As is the case in any good farm visit, we also had the opportunity to share a coffee and talk about a wide range of topics important to all of us. Things like farming, conservation, water, agricultural awareness, hunger, development and building partnerships. We also talked about sustainability and what that means to farmers versus what consumers might define as sustainable farming. It was a rich discussion with recognition that agriculture is facing many challenges and we will need all types of farming and innovative and varied ideas to help realize the Canadian Foodgrains Bank vision of a world without hunger.
On the way back to the city, we stopped off at the local project which is situated along a major east-west highway just outside Steinbach – a visible location with great signage that helps to spread the message, thank supporters and raise awareness of what the Canadian Foodgrains Bank program is all about. The winter wheat is about three to four weeks from harvest and looks like it will yield a healthy, abundant harvest.
Tackling the issue of hunger, nutrition and development is a huge challenge. I am thankful Monsanto and the Monsanto Fund is willing to seek out partnerships and share our resources with those who can make a difference. Seeing a respected and effective NGO like the Canadian Foodgrains Bank produce such noticeable and measurable results with the help of farmers and knowing we had a part to play in “improving lives” makes for a great day at the office… or in this case, a great day on the farm.
Program gets students “curious” about science
A Monsanto Fund grant provided to Let’s Talk Science is strengthening teacher and student science and technology learning in farming communities and getting them curious about science and its prevalence and impact on our lives.
Let’s Talk Science creates and delivers unique learning programs and services that engage children, youth and educators in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). While based out of London, Ontario, this organization is national in scope. With the support of the Monsanto Fund, its goal is to better engage students in science and technology conversations by providing quality instructional and assessment materials and access to professional learning for teachers and students through an interactive, online learning center called CurioCity.
“The Monsanto Fund grant enables us to build educator confidence in science, engineering, technology and math (STEM),” explains Sara Steers, director, external relations with Let’s Talk Science. “Through the enhancement of our online CurioCity resources, educators gain access to valuable resources and learning strategies that allow them to explore STEM topics in the classroom that are relevant and important to students’ everyday lives.”
The Monsanto Fund initially supported the CurioCity program in 2012 with a grant of $77,000 and extended additional funding of $159,000 to the organization in 2014 to continue to enhance the web-enabled program CurioCity/CurioCité. The project includes the development of teacher resources specific to biotechnology and builds student engagement by offering opportunities for youth to become directly involved in generating content for the CurioCity and participating in citizen science action projects.
“The CurioCity program is terrific because instead of just thinking about how to get kids excited about science, which is obviously important, it also focuses on the teachers and gives them the support, training and tools they need to incorporate complex and complicated scientific subjects into the classroom,” says Trish Jordan, public and industry affairs director at Monsanto Canada. “It’s fine to say, ‘let’s get kids excited about science’ but who is on the front lines trying to do that? It’s the teachers and they need our support. And because CurioCity is an online tool, it reaches those rural teachers and rural students who don’t always have access to resources that expose them to scientific learning.”
Since 1993, Let’s Talk Science has been developing and delivering innovative, hands-on/minds-on learning programs that get children and youth excited about STEM. Every year, Let’s Talk Science mobilizes thousands of university and college students and other science and technology professionals across Canada through the Let’s Talk Science Outreach program. Free of charge, this program reaches students in rural areas with trained volunteers regularly visiting rural classrooms, community groups and hosting large events or summer day camps in many communities across Canada.
Helping students pursue their dreams and explore careers in agriculture
The Monsanto Fund Opportunity Scholarship program gives students from farm families across Canada the chance to secure financial support to help fund their post-secondary education in agriculture or an agriculture-related field.
Each year, 65 scholarships valued at $1,500 are awarded to deserving students from across Canada. And each fall, Monsanto Canada hosts those students, their families and their friends at a recognition banquet were we acknowledge and celebrate their accomplishments.
Students from farm families often have a longer commute to school or have to leave their rural communities altogether to pursue post-secondary education. The scholarship program is just one way the Monsanto Fund can help offset some of the costs associated with housing, transportation, tuition, books, food, supplies and more.
“The Monsanto Fund Opportunity Scholarship Program allows us to give back to farm families and support rural youth who want to pursue an education in agriculture,” explains Trish Jordan, public and industry affairs director with Monsanto Canada. “Agriculture is an exciting and rewarding industry and students are increasingly making the smart choice to pursue a career in agriculture. There are endless and diverse opportunities in the industry and we are happy to support and encourage students who have a passion for agriculture.”
All student applications – which typically number about 200/year – are reviewed by an independent panel of judges who rate each student’s academic record, leadership capabilities, involvement in their community, and the quality of the essay they submit that answers the question, “What area of agriculture do you want to work in and why?”
An additional requirement is a farmer nomination/reference letter that gives a local farmer from the student’s community the chance to speak to the student’s character and why they deserve to be selected as a Monsanto Fund Opportunity Scholarship winner.
Now entering, its 24th year in Canada, the Monsanto Fund Opportunity Scholarship program has awarded well over $1 million to thousands of deserving students since it was first introduced in 1991.
To find out more about the Monsanto Fund Opportunity Scholarship program, check out our Scholarship video or our visit our scholarship page at the links below:
Scholarship page: http://www.monsanto.ca/ourcommitments/Pages/OpportunityScholarship.aspx
Canada’s Farmers Grow Communities
Canada’s Farmers Grow Communities, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund, was introduced in June 2012 to help Canadian farmers support charitable and not-for-profit organizations in farming communities. The program gives eligible farmers the opportunity to register to win $2,500 for a charitable or not-for-profit organization in their community.
While most Canadians are aware of the multitude of large, high-profile charitable organizations doing good work to help those who are less fortunate, the same is not always true in smaller, rural communities.
Local not-for-profit groups and charitable organizations that target specific unmet needs in rural communities often operate with volunteers and they don’t have the same access to financial resources and donations as larger charities. That puts a lot of pressure on local residents to help fund the programs and services offered by these charitable groups.
That’s where Canada’s Farmers Grow Communities is making a difference. And who better to know what community groups could benefit from help than the farmers and their families who live and work in these rural communities?
“Monsanto is committed to helping farmers grow their communities and improve the lives of rural residents,” said Trish Jordan, Public and Industry Affairs Director at Monsanto Canada. “This program allows us to shine the spotlight on farmers and recognize them for the important contributions they make to the quality of life in their communities.”
A unique aspect of the program that encourages broader engagement and participation from other rural residents is an option that allows non-farming community members and potential recipient groups the opportunity to suggest ideas farmers can consider using in their applications. These ideas are posted to an on-line “Idea Map” where farmers can see what groups need help.
Feedback from rural residents indicates the program can make a noticeable difference in the lives of rural residents. Sabrina Aitchison, a farmer from Manitoba, is a previous winner who submitted an application to help support their local nursery school.
“This sort of funding really means a lot to our little nursery school,” said Aitchison. “As farms get larger and small towns get smaller it is hard for little organizations to function but with farmers and others like the Monsanto Fund giving back to the community, it can be done!”
How the Program Works
From January through September annually, farmers across Canada have the opportunity to nominate a local charity or not-for-profit group in their community by visiting www.CanadasFarmers.com. Two $2,500 grants are awarded in each of 30 different territories across the grain growing regions of northeastern BC (Peace River district), Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.
For complete program details, visit www.CanadasFarmers.com
Dateline Canada: Learning Where Food Comes From
The Made in Manitoba Breakfast program is organized by Agriculture in the Classroom (AITC) – Manitoba, Inc., a non-profit charitable organization that works to connect Canadian teachers and students to agriculture.
The Made in Manitoba Breakfast program travels across Manitoba feeding students full, hot breakfasts made with products from Manitoba farmers. Before each breakfast, the students take part in an education program that helps them explore the agriculture industry and learn where their food comes from.
“The Made in Manitoba Breakfast program is an exciting and engaging way to connect students of all ages to where their food comes from and help them appreciate the fact that farmers in Manitoba are producing a delicious, abundant supply of safe and nutritious food right here in Manitoba,” Trish Jordan, public and industry affairs lead, Monsanto Canada said. “It is a celebration of food, farmers and agriculture!”
Students also learn about possible careers and job opportunities in agriculture. The program changes depending on the grade level, but kids are shown how almost every possible job has a connection to agriculture. AITC works with Faculty of Agriculture Outreach personnel to tailor a program specific to agriculture related careers for high school students, helping them understand the entrance requirements and skills sets required for a career in their chosen field.
The Monsanto Fund has contributed $137,000 to the Made in Manitoba Program, and thanks to a recent grant, AITC was able to expand the program to 30 new rural communities.