Growing up, Keith Cain endured hot summer days detasseling corn for the Pioneer Hybrid seed plant in Princeton.
Now the mayor of Princeton, he officially declared Aug. 21, 2012 DuPont Pioneer Day in celebration of the Princeton location's 75th anniversary. Cain was just one of several high-caliber guests for the momentous occasion.
Undoubtedly, the headliner was Ellen Kullman, president and CEO of DuPont. Kullman took to the podium to reassure the audience that DuPont is committed to Pioneer's legacy of providing top-notch agricultural products.
Approximately two-thirds of DuPont's research and development budget goes toward ag, food and nutrition. Kullman notes that's a commitment of $1.2 billion each year. Biotechnology advancements are necessary to feed a growing world population, she says.
Of course, biotech advancements will come to a standstill without the proper scientific personnel. DuPont Pioneer president Paul Schickler notes the company is committed to engaging the youth of America in an attempt to sway them to a career in ag technology. By 2020, DuPont Pioneer hopes to engage 2 million teenagers on the topic of pursuing a career in ag.
"The farmer who will feed the world in 2050 is 13 years old today," Schickler notes.
The feeding-the-world topic is a perfect fit for the Princeton seed facility. What started as a typical seed production plant in downtown Princeton in 1937 is now an international seed production hub, located less than a mile from I-80.
Plant manager Thelma Holmbeck says the proximity to Chicago made Princeton a natural fit for an international production plant. Each year, the plant processes and packages anywhere from 40 to 80 different hybrids and ships them to 24 different countries. Believe it or not, Pakistan is the location's largest shipping destination.
Throughout the ceremony, dignitaries thanked DuPont Pioneer for their commitment to the local community. When Holmbeck started at Princeton in 1993, the location had 13 full-time employees. Today, they're up to 56. The location sources seed from growers in the surrounding six counties. Indeed, it's an economic impact worthy of its own proclamation.