Inspiring a passion for science in the next generation
December 17th, 2015
With the “ Explore Agriculture Science” program, the KWS Gateway Research Center (GRC) started a new and exciting initiative to promote students’ interest in science and agriculture.
With the opening of the GRC in early 2015, Derek Bartlem and his team sought an opportunity to make a difference in the local community. To meet that goal, the GRC team built a three-session program, where high school students could actively participate in panels, exercises, and discussions, while getting to know the industry and some KWS professionals. The program aims to help students from diverse backgrounds in the St. Louis community learn more about, and be inspired by, science and agriculture.
The KWS GRC team took on a mentoring role and explored the St. Louis bioscience ecosystem with the students through hands-on exploratory activities. In the final session on November 12, students worked on the KWS “Agriculture Sciences Innovation Challenge,” in which they applied their new skills to solve problems that are regularly encountered by Plant Science researchers. All of the GRC scientists contributed to the Challenge by creating scenarios that described problems they had actually experienced in their own careers; these scenarios were compiled into a game by Lorelei Davis. To play the game, the students needed to work with each other and consult with the GRC scientists in problem-solving and team-building activities.
The program allowed KWS to engage with the community in a way that was exciting and meaningful for KWS professionals both in St. Louis and, via teleconference, in Einbeck. Not only did this program meet the needs of 16-, 17-, and 18-year-olds looking for real-world experience in the science industry, it also engaged KWS employees who want to share their passion and spark an interest in the next generation of researchers.
To implement the program, KWS partnered with Diversity Awareness Partnership, a leading non-profit organization, and BioSTL who supported KWS’ establishment in St. Louis and work to create and reinforce strong business-to-business connections. This initiative follows the KWS core mission and promotes engagement between KWS and the community. The “Explore Agriculture Science” program is a celebration of KWS’ first year in St. Louis and highlights how the GRC is making an impact through the way KWS does business. KWS GRC plans to offer the program on an annual basis.
KWS is one of the world’s leading plant breeding companies. In fiscal 2014/15, 4,700 employees in 70 countries generated net sales of € 986 million and earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) of € 113 million. A company with a tradition of family ownership, KWS has operated independently for some 160 years. It focuses on plant breeding and the production and sale of seed for corn, sugarbeet, cereals, potatoes, rapeseed and sunflowers. KWS uses leading-edge plant breeding methods to continuously improve yield and resistance to diseases, pests and abiotic stress. To that end, the company invested € 174 million last fiscal year in research and development, 17.7 percent of its net sales. For more information: http://www.kws.com/
*All information without the inclusion of KWS’ 50/50 joint ventures
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