(Published in La Perla del Sur)
February is known as the month of love and friendship, and these feelings can be manifested in many ways. As the love between couples, between parents and children, between friends and family, but also as the love of our community. One of the principles of employee work philosophy at Monsanto, besides developing innovative and sustainable agricultural products, is to support the communities where they live and work. That is why Juana Díaz employees have been involved in multiple community activities throughout the year, not only during the month of February, and the company has supported them, giving them the space and financial resources for some donations.
In January, just a few days before Three Kings Day, Juana Díaz employees organized their own gift-drive for the children at the Manzanilla and Arúz communities. They gave away presents for each of the 50 children, aged 1 to 10, that live in this community. They also delivered food to the Paz de Cristo Home in Ponce. This is the fifth year in a row that the Juana Díaz employees organize this type of event. Each year they select a shelter or community in need that will benefit from this initiative.
In early February, the “Off-the-Job-Safety” Committee in Juana Díaz gave a helping hand to the Santa Marta minor baseball league. The committee donated uniforms for all team members plus a first aid kit. The team was very happy about the donation and they dedicated the baseball season to Monsanto. One of our employees, Yadisha L., who represented Monsanto during the first game of the season, had the honor of throwing the first ball of the season.
In March, the Women’s Network Committee organized an event to offer information and guidance to abused women. The seminar, ‘Domestic Violence and Resiliency’ took place at Barrio Arenales Altos in Isabela and was attended by 16 people. Attorneys Migdalia Rosa Olivo and Carlos R. Ferreri, experts on domestic violence issues, offered the seminar. Personnel from Casa Protegida Julia de Burgos, a shelter for abused women, also participated at the event. The committee also offered information about the zika virus. Also during this month, Monsanto employees visited the Liceo Ponceño and offered the students lectures on agricultural technology and safety.
During the month of April, two community initiatives were carried out to address two very different needs: on one hand, a tree pruning in the communities of Galicia and Manzanilla, to maintain the proper functioning of the electrical infrastructure of these communities. On the other hand, Monsanto became one of the sponsors of the amateur Double-A baseball team, the Juana Díaz Poets.
Other donations that were also given during the spring/summer of 2016 were for the Puerto Rican Society for Deaf Children in Ponce, and for the Carmen Flores School in the Rio Cañas Abajo Neighborhood under Juana Díaz.
Inspired by a 34-year-old college tradition and in keeping with the company’s commitment to support local communities, Monsanto employees across the United States, Hawaii and Puerto Rico have designated August 12th as Monsanto Gives Back Day. The Monsanto Gives Back Day event was inspired by The Big Event, a one-day community service project started by Texas A&M University students in 1982. Monsanto employees Hannah Neuenschwander and Fernanda Cabrera participated as undergraduates at the school and decided to start something similar at the Monsanto Company.
In Puerto Rico, employees of the Monsanto Juana Diaz manufacturing division and the Women’s Network gave their support to residents of the Community Santi, also located in Juana Diaz. On the evening of August 11, employees offered a talk and printed educational material on natural disaster safety and prevention, with emphasis on the current hurricane season, in collaboration with Ricardo Negrón of the Juana Diaz Municipal Emergency Management Office (OMME). Employees also distributed LED flashlights, tote bags and printed material about the company. During the day of August 12, Monsanto Company’s staff removed debris and solid waste, in addition to painting speed bumps on the road that leads to and areas around the Santi Community.
In September, coinciding with the celebration of Biosciences Week, Monsanto made an alliance with the Sor Isolina Ferré Centers, to expand the range of the Science Mobile, the centers’ traveling laboratory. The Science Mobile offers science workshops at four public housing projects or marginalized communities in the towns of Juana Diaz and Santa Isabel. This initiative is possible thanks to a $10,000 donation from the Monsanto Fund to the establish the Science for All Program.
The first workshop, which offered the theme of agricultural biotechnology for the first time in the Science Mobile, was offered to students living in the Leonardo Santiago Public Housing Project in Juana Díaz. Ten students from various public schools in the area worked for two hours on various topics, such as basic laboratory rules, and explored topics in the areas of chemistry and physics.
They also learned basic concepts of agricultural biotechnology or the application of genetic improvements to agricultural products, which Monsanto uses in Puerto Rico in various research projects related to the development of cotton, soy, and corn seeds.
“Thanks to Monsanto’s investment, we have been able to expand the range of the Science Mobile workshops with a subject as current as agricultural biotechnology. We hope that students who participate in our Science for All Programs in these four public housing projects will rediscover science as a door that opens many opportunities for their future,” said CSIF chief executive officer José Luis Díaz Cotto.
During 2017, Monsanto will continue to implement initiatives that will help improve the quality of life in Juana Díaz and support agricultural education activities in the Southern Zone of Puerto Rico.