Monsanto tour opens students’ eyes to modern-day farming, opportunities

Farming is not what is used to be was the overall message that over 60 students and teachers from Maui High School took away with them after a recent tour of Monsanto’s Kihei farm.

The tour was the culmination of an interdisciplinary school project involving five departments – English, Science, Social Studies, Math, Business and Special Education; where students had an opportunity to learn more about Monsanto.

According to Allen Kennedy, Business Teacher at Maui High School, “Our academy of teachers set learning goals for our students all related to creating a report on this global agricultural seed company – about their work, mission, history and employees. As part of this project-based, experiential learning process, we wanted students to gain a better understanding of how and why Monsanto is such a successful business worldwide.”

In addition to touring the farm, students also learned about various tasks Monsanto’s employees do on a daily basis through interactive stations featuring DNA Analysis, Integrated Pest Management, Data Information Systems, GPS Systems and Robotics. They also heard about opportunities available in today’s agricultural industry and what it takes to be a farmer.

“We were excited to show Maui High’s students that farming is not just putting your hands in the dirt,” said Kai Pelayo, Community Affairs Manager at Monsanto Hawaii. “Today’s modern farmer needs to have a broad range of knowledge to succeed, including STEM-related skills, and marketing and business know-how.  Having our employees share about the work that they do on a daily basis and having students and teachers ask questions was a great opportunity to develop a continuing relationship within the community of Maui.”

Amongst the information Monsanto employees shared about farming today were:

  • The amount of farmers versus people in the world is just a little over one percent and this number continues to decrease due to the difficulties and pressures facing farmers.
  • Advances in technology and science enable farmers to be more productive whether they be organic or conventional farmers.
  • Monsanto provides farmers with the technology needed to help them produce more with less resources.
  • American farmers and agribusinesses receive just 11.6 cents of every dollar spent on food in the U.S., according to recent analysis from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
  • Farmers live daily at the whim of nature. One to two years of bad weather, drought or too much rain can have a significant impact on a farmer’s business.
  • Consumers are so removed from our farms that most people don’t understand where their produce and proteins come from and what’s involved in bringing these items to market.
  • We need to support our farmers. Our food supply depends on it.

“We’re very grateful to Monsanto’s employees for taking the time to host our group,” said Kennedy. “Through these types of experiential learning projects, we hope to continually encourage our students to explore. When they see first-hand that an agricultural-based business like Monsanto has many aspects to it, that it needs people with a variety of skill sets to operate the company, and that the work they do is helping farmers throughout the globe – it really opens our students’ eyes to what’s happening around them and what it takes to run a successful seed business.”