By Milton Stokes, PhD, MPH, RD
Director, Global Health & Nutrition Outreach
(Originally published in Discover Monsanto)
Most people know dietitians work in hospitals, outpatient clinics, and public health settings. I’ve done all those myself. Dietitians also work in communication, and often we specialize.
But many people wonder, “What’s Monsanto doing with dietitians?” I receive this question from time to time, especially since Monsanto is an ag company, focused on providing sustainable solutions for farmers. Why is a dietitian working at Monsanto? Furthermore, why is Monsanto participating in conferences with food and nutrition professionals?
Monsanto greatly values the dietetics profession. We have a registered dietitian on staff because we recognize that food, nutrition and agriculture are very connected, in the U.S. and around the world. Monsanto has a long-standing commitment to advancing food and nutrition security as demonstrated by the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) program, among others. Monsanto aims to elevate the profession of dietetics as critical to improving public health and solving hunger challenges globally.
As part of our commitment to dietetics, we engage at conferences, including the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo. Recently, I attended the Florida Academy meeting, which was spectacular. Next up, I’m traveling to Spain for the 17th International Congress of Dietetics where the theme highlights sustainability in food and nutrition. I’m looking forward to reconnecting with friends and colleagues from the Philippines and the U.S. as well as making new acquaintances from India.
Before Monsanto, back when I was working on my doctorate at the University of Connecticut, I focused on health communication and studied Hispanic female body image as well as the persuasiveness of nutrition symbols in the grocery store. Merging my food, nutrition, and health background with communication opened many doors over the course of my career. In fact, it led me to shift focus from a tenure-track professorship in nutrition to expanding opportunities in agriculture with Monsanto.
I’ve written about my career journey before, and occasionally I speak at dietitian conferences on the topic of careers. I love to intertwine advice from Amy Poehler’s book, Yes Please (Dey Street Books, 2015). Just saying “yes” is an important start and may result in an exciting job opportunity in unexpected places.