Camp Correspondent Blog – Day 1, Week 1

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DREAM BIG Kicks off at Bayer Crop Sciences

Check back for daily blog posts by our Camp Correspondents, Annie Donnell and Dylan Farmer, both former DREAM BIG participants who graduated college in 2019!

On June 3, 2019, the third annual DREAM BIG Career Camp from the Starkloff Disability Institute began with a visit to Bayer Pharmaceuticals, formerly Monsanto. Eight participants excitedly arrived to begin learning about the technology, philosophy, and people behind Bayer for an exciting first day.  The DREAM BIG Program aims to provide an opportunity for high school students with all types of disabilities to think about possible careers, learn about companies in the St. Louis area, gain hands-on experiences while visiting each company, and participate in Starkloff programming in the afternoons discussing topics including yet not limited to personality types, goal-setting, elevator pitches, self-advocacy, financial literacy, independent living, and assistive technology.
The day began with an experiment in which students crushed strawberries and then extracted the DNA from those strawberries. Rachel, a student who is interested in advertising, said she liked this particular activity because of the DNA extract necklaces created by the students to take home “as a souvenir.” They then explored Bayer’s facility by navigating through growth chambers and had an opportunity to see seeds growing in different controlled environments. During the tour, students learned about how Bayer genetically engineers plants and selects specific seeds that are more efficient. They also got to see what a controlled environment for a plant might look like by entering rooms meant to mimic a particular climate. Students touched soybeans from the North Brazilian climate and examined a soybean seed compared to a fully-grown soybean. One take-away shocking to most is the statistic that 95% of the world is made up of insects, and .3 percent of the world is humans.
Afterward, students learned about personality types, elevator pitches, and goal-setting. Students learned how elevator pitches are used to explain in thirty seconds who they are and their goals for what they wish to accomplish. This can be presented to an employer or someone who asks you to talk about yourself.
Next, Tim Boeker and Barry Jacobson gave a presentation on Bayer’s mission: Science is LIFE. LIFE stands for Leadership, Integrity, Flexibility, and Efficiency. Bayer focuses on crop sciences at the Chesterfield location and employs over 100,000 people across the world.  They also explained Bayer’s opportunities for students with three-month internships and Co-Ops, in which a person works in a specified area for six months.
Finally, students were able to meet and network with various Bayer employees in a rotating networking session. A brief activity about goal-setting concluded the busy first day. During the networking and mentor session, some mentors I talked to want to mentor younger students because they think it is a great forum to learn about job opportunities. Another mentor explained how she wanted to talk to students because she had a learning disability in high school and wanted to share resources with students with disabilities today. A program called Enable through Bayer helps the company continue to increase accessibility for employees.

More fun experiences are sure to come!

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