Monsanto Company has announced the donation of its Leland Agronomy Center to The B.F. Smith Foundation, a nonprofit organization in the Mississippi Delta. The 150-acre site consists of cropland and supporting infrastructure that includes offices, labs, greenhouses and shops.
Mississippi State University’s Delta Research and Extension Center, based in Stoneville, will use the greenhouse and laboratory space for plant breeding and other agronomic research aimed at accelerating the path toward better varieties of plant material adapted for the Mid-South region. In addition to agricultural research, the site will also support a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education project, which will be coordinated with a local school district.
“The STEM Project is a collaborative effort that will focus on promoting careers in science, engineering and math, particularly among elementary and middle school students in the local area,” said Leeson Taylor, superintendent, Greenville Public School District. “It’s important that science curriculum is engaging and allows students to envision themselves as problem solvers. Field trips and classroom lectures by public and private-sector researchers will be enhanced as a result of Monsanto’s gift to The B. F. Smith Foundation.”
Stoneville researchers said they are looking forward to supporting the STEM project’s curriculum through teaching and lectures on exciting new breakthroughs, as well as discussing the challenges ahead for plant science and its role in global food production.
“We are grateful to The B. F. Smith Foundation for its longstanding history of supporting agricultural research and education programs located at our Stoneville Campus. Our expansion into these neighboring facilities will help us tremendously in meeting the challenges in agriculture, which can only be addressed through new innovations and technologies, and by engaging the next wave of talent that will address tomorrow’s challenges,” stated Jeff Johnson, head of the MSU Delta Research and Extension Center at Stoneville.
“The B. F. Smith Foundation is ecstatic about the new opportunity to advance one of the Foundation’s primary missions, which is to advance science and education in a way that holds promise for improving the quality of life of the citizens in this region. It was due to the generosity, strong corporate citizenship and Monsanto’s commitment to this region that the Foundation is able to further develop the purposes for which it was founded,” said Travis Satterfield, chairman of The B.F. Smith Foundation.
Doug Rushing, Director of Industry Affairs for Monsanto, said the gift demonstrates both the company’s commitment to “support the communities where our customers and employees live and work,” as well as Monsanto’s efforts to engage young people in STEM subjects and introduce them to science and math-related careers in agriculture. “Monsanto is proud to have been part of the Leland community over the last several decades and we are thrilled that this gift will continue to advance both agriculture and education in the Delta, and benefit our friends and neighbors in the region for years to come,” said Rushing.