The University of Illinois announced Wednesday that Monsanto Company pledged a $250,000 grant to be put towards an initiative between the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) and the College of Media to help establish an Agricultural Communications Program endowed chair that will strengthen communications for agricultural and rural development.

"With the population expecting to reach nine billion by 2030, farmers from Illinois and beyond will be asked to produce more crops while using fewer resources. At Monsanto, we are committed to bringing farmers advanced ag technologies to help them meet this challenge," said Tami Craig Schilling, vice president of technology communications for Monsanto. "Effectively communicating farmers' efforts to feed, clothe, and fuel a rapidly growing population is a major part of the solution."

The James F. Evans Endowed Chair in Agricultural Communications will provide leadership for the joint program between the College of ACES and the College of Media by serving current and future agricultural communicators through courses, service initiatives, research, and relationship building.

"We appreciate Monsanto's support in this effort," said College of ACES Dean Robert Hauser. "It would not be possible without the generosity of Monsanto and others who recognize the importance of informing students, the private sector, policy makers, and the public in general --  here and worldwide -- about the role of agriculture in addressing many of society's most pressing issues." 

"The rising importance of new media channels combined with the rapidly changing agriculture landscape indicates it is more important than ever that we talk about ag in ways consumers want to hear about it," said Craig Schilling. "The University of Illinois is taking a positive step toward strengthening an already strong media and agriculture communications program and helping all those in agriculture become more effective at sharing their story."

Monsanto and the U of I have a long history of collaboration on efforts to advance learning and research in agriculture. Most recently, Monsanto funded eight Monsanto Fellows in Plant Breeding representing support of $500,000.