Monsanto Company donated its Leland, Miss., Agronomy Center to The B.F. Smith Foundation, a nonprofit organization in the Mississippi Delta, and at least a portion of the facilities on the site will be used by the Mississippi State University's Delta Research and Extension Center, based at Stoneville, Miss.
The 150-acre site donated by Monsanto consists of cropland and supporting infrastructure that includes offices, labs, greenhouses and shops. University researchers will use the greenhouse and laboratory space for plant breeding and other agronomic research aimed at accelerating the path toward better varieties of plants adapted for the Mid-South region. It was also announced that in addition to agricultural research, the site will also support a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education project that will be coordinated with a local school district.
Monsanto gave no reseason for no longer needing the facility but stressed how it will be an asset to the state and local communities going forward.
“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, Ph.D., 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 Chairman Travis Satterfield said the gift will help 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.
Doug Rushing, Director of Industry Affairs for Monsanto, noted that Monsanto had been part of the Leland, Miss., community for several decades. The gift will "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.