Yesterday I was able to tour the Monsanto Woodland/Davis vegetable research station. This was exciting to me for a couple of reasons. Number one, I’m an ag nerd, I love to learn about all different kinds of ag, especially about plants! The second reason is I wanted some truth. So much of what I see on the internet about Monsanto is perpetuated by people who learned what they “know” from a movie they saw or book, blog or wiki article they read. Second hand knowledge can have a tendency to be less than factual. I wanted facts.
Many friends asked me how I ended up getting to be able to tour Monsanto, some acted like I had to sell my soul or my unborn children. Well, it wasn’t that hard, in fact they couldn’t have been any nicer about arranging this tour. What actually was hard was finding people that wanted to come with me! I asked several non agricultural friends if they wanted to come. Not one accepted. Finally Daniel Taylor stepped up, thanks Daniel!
This tour came about through several friends, one being Janice Person – she is director of Monsanto’s Public Affairs. Janice was kind enough to fly all the way out here to California, so we could meet (we’ve been friends on social media for at least 4 years now). Needless to say I felt pretty special. George Gough and Mark Oppenhuizen were also our tour guides, talk about a smart group of people, I was almost intimidated (I was, but don’t tell)!
The number one first thing that struck me as I walked into the station was safety. There were safety signs, what to do in an emergency sign, number to call if you needed help, I felt very safe and protected. The second thing that I noticed right off was how happy and pleasant all the employees were. These people enjoyed their jobs, they were passionate about them, I had a really hard time keeping myself calm, their joy was contagious! Mark shared with us that scientist come to work for Monsanto because they know Monsanto is on the cutting edge with science and Monsanto works hard to provide them with a creative and supportive working environment. I could see that.
During the course of our tour yesterday, we asked our hosts about their tour policy. I was shocked to find out they will give tours to those who ask. They mentioned giving tours to master gardener clubs, farmers and other organizations. To be honest with you, I was shocked how open everyone was with us. We looked at field trials, greenhouses, laboratories, seed banks and we even got to taste test melon. We asked any question we wanted to, AND I took pictures!!! It was nothing like I imagined.
I have a lot to say and share with you about the tour. But I don’t want to overwhelm you with one huge post, so I’ve decided to write several posts about my tour. Each post will cover something I thought was important, neat or relevant and if you guys have any questions or comments, please ask them and I will try and cover those too.
I learned so much yesterday. It was such a positive and educational experience. I want to thank Janice, George, Mark and all of the other speakers that blew my mind yesterday. I walked away from the tour with a level of excitement toward agriculture that I haven’t felt in a very long time. Science is amazing.