Investor Spotlight: BASF
By: Stephanie Jensen | Director, Professional & Specialty Solutions, BASF Crop Protection NA
I joined the Wake Education Partnership Board of Directors in January 2016. It was a tremendous honor for me to be selected as the board chair for the 2018-2019 year. Serving our education community in this capacity is rewarding as a professional, but more importantly as a mother of two children in the Wake County Public School System. As a board member, it’s a privilege to help WakeEd provide additional resources to teachers and schools.
We create chemistry for a sustainable future – and we have been doing so for over 150 years. This is our BASF mission, and it requires an innovative and creative mindset. For innovation to happen, we need people who understand our customers’ needs and challenges, as well as the ability to use creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and STEM training to come up with solutions for our current and future needs. It is critical to future BASF success that we continue to have an immense pipeline of talent in the STEM discipline, be it chemists, biologists, engineers, or even finance team members (as I started out!)
The promotion of STEM interest in youth is a BASF priority. One initiative we employ is our Kids’ Lab program, an outreach effort where we put science experiments in the hands of students and teachers. Kids’ Lab showcases science in a fun and educational manner and allows our scientists and employees to directly inspire students. We have been intentional with our experiments and supply lists to ensure that all the materials needed to conduct experiments are readily available, and at a low cost for teachers to procure no matter where they live.
I have even been able to bring these experiments into my own children’s classes, where I have witnessed the excitement of the students but also the ways that teachers are able to connect the experiments back to things they are learning in their curriculum. Specifically, in our business, Agricultural Solutions, we partner with several non-profit youth organizations that bring the science of agriculture to the next generation. FFA, National Teach Ag, AFA (Agriculture Futures of America) and MANRRS (Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences) are some of the organizations we champion.
BASF also works with impactful industry partners like the Professional Pest Management, who put out resources like Pest World for Kids, which helps attract the next generation to this unique niche of science. Collaboration with partners is an important way we share our messages around science and inspire the pipeline of talent we want to build in students of all ages.
BASF is also proud to support many non-profits who drive general STEM interest in the classroom, like WakeEd Partnership. Over the years our team in Research Triangle Park (RTP) has participated in programs like SummerSTEM, where we bring educators to our site for an immersion experience. We have also participated in STEMposium and in WakeEd’s Link program with East Wake Middle School.
A highlight for me has been my personal engagement – 3 years on-site with SummerSTEM, STEMposium, and Link. I learned that our educators crave the ability to bring real-world STEM experiences to their students and that the gains that the students make from these programs go far beyond STEM learning, to all of the 4 C’s (communication, critical thinking, collaboration and creativity.) This type of engagement helps students succeed because it shows them that a successful scientist is one who can collaborate to solve problems and communicate their solutions to customers and partners.
As we celebrate Women’s History Month, I am also proud of BASF’s commitment to women in leadership and our new revised goals in this area. We are now targeting that 30% of our global leadership roles are filled by women. This new goal comes after achieving our goal of 24% by 2021 early, reaching this milestone in 2019. To build strong female senior leaders, we need great chemists and engineers – and that begins in our schools.
Women and girls in STEM fields bring a unique level of creativity to science. Recently, I participated in two of our BASF Science Club with ABC11 videos with my daughter, Delaney. In total we have over 75 science experiment videos and instruction sheets on our BASF Science Club website, for teachers, parents, and students to use at home or at school. Here’s one of the experiments Delaney and I were able to share together:
As a Cornerstone Investor of WakeEd Partnership since 2015, we recognize WakeEd’s proven history of successful unions between the business community and schools, as well as innovative and impactful programs for teachers and students. We continue to be impressed with the outcomes produced by the WakeEd team. As we face this uncertain time, know that companies, like BASF, are diligently working on research and development of future solutions and products. Also know that we will continue our student and teacher engagement to spark excitement around careers in STEM.