Question: When have you spoken up on behalf of Modern Agriculture, or helped to correct someone’s misperception? What was their reaction?
It was a fun day in second grade – hands-on science experiments always get the kids excited. As the students were working with “harvesting” soybeans and cutting them up to look at the plants’ parts, the teacher made a comment. “Since these beans are organic, you won’t have to wash them like other beans.” Klaine Friend’s hand shot up. “Excuse me Mr. X, but I don’t think that is right about organic beans, and you are going to get an e-mail from my Mom.”
Yes, Klaine Friend is my daughter, and yes, the teacher DID get an e-mail from her mom. How do we help educators who are strapped for time and resources understand modern agriculture? I appreciate the many industry programs that are reaching out to teachers to provide curriculum and hands-on events, and we should not underestimate the power of personal interaction.
I did indeed send the teacher an e-mail, after really thinking about my tone. The last thing I wanted to do was lambast this hard-working teacher for “not knowing the facts.” Instead, the approach I took focused on the positive. I wanted this teacher to know I appreciated the fact that the kids were exploring science. Many of these Indianapolis school kids had never even seen a soybean before, so touching one was a good thing! I then went into some key sound bites about Modern Agriculture. I started with the fact that organic farmers use pesticides, too. They apply non-synthetic crop protection products, such as sulfur and copper, to protect crops from pests and increase yields. (So washing all fruits and veggies is a good idea.) I then elevated to the big picture – the huge advances that have been made by agriculture, and the many more that are needed which are enabled by crop protection products. The world population is over several billion, making technology essential to the future.
Because the teacher knew I worked at Dow AgroSciences, I also pointed out that companies like mine have made tremendous advances in modern-day crop protection products. Our products are extensively tested and continue to focus on the target weed or pest. I also sent a few links for information.
His response? Appreciation. As a busy educator, having resources and facts shared from an informed parent makes his life easier, not harder. This lesson reinforced for me the importance of dialogue – and of talking at home with our own families so they know what our industry is about. You can be assured we continue talking about modern agriculture around the Friend dinner table so Klaine will continue raising her hand and speaking out.