Seed World

Seeding Experiences for Teachers, Making an Impact on STEM Education

Syngenta bolsters its support of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education in North Carolina and at the national level by enhancing its summer fellowship program and partnering with the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture (AFBFA).

This is a step that will align program participants’ lesson plans with national standards to broaden their accessibility, according to the company.

Additionally, Syngenta is donating $10,000 to the Kenan Fellows Program for Teacher Leadership, a professional development program for educators in North Carolina.

“Innovation in agriculture is vitally important, especially in the face of a growing global population and dwindling natural resources,” says Lisa Zannoni, global head of regulatory and stewardship for seeds at Syngenta. “At Syngenta, we strive to inspire bright young minds to learn about the importance of agriculture in society. We also are proud to support teachers in North Carolina and to be a part of national efforts to improve STEM education.”

As a result of the AFBFA partnership, the Syngenta Summer Fellowship program was recognized by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Rural Council as part of its ‘America the Bountiful’ initiative. America the Bountiful is a national collaboration of federal agencies and private-sector stakeholders to raise awareness and foster innovation in the U.S. agriculture industry.

“Our industry is steeped in science and technology,” Zannoni says. “We are so excited that this new partnership with AFBFA will help our Fellows reach more classrooms to educate the next generation about the boundless opportunities available in agriculture.”

The Syngenta Summer Fellowship program immerses North Carolina STEM teachers into the world of agricultural biotechnology to help them develop lesson plans they can provide to schools across the state. During a two-week externship, the program takes teachers on an interactive experience that explores the process of developing a biotech product from discovery to commercialization. The Summer Fellows work in laboratories alongside Syngenta researchers in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, before traveling to the Midwest to visit farms, and then to Washington, D.C., to gain insights into the regulatory process.

“I would recommend this program to teachers who are looking to grow. This has a way of renewing your teaching energy, just to see another world,” says Megan Bennett, a biology teacher who graduated from the 2015 program. “I can talk to students about farms, about seeds, about genetically modified crops, and I can talk to them about careers in agriculture.”

To help continue expanding and improving STEM education to more classrooms, Syngenta also supports the Kenan Fellows Program for Teacher Leadership. The Kenan Fellows program addresses the critical need for high-quality professional development for educators, and is the largest STEM-focused teacher leadership program in North Carolina.