Harry H. Stine
is a farmer and seedsman. In four decades Stine’s company has become the most renowned private soybean breeding program in the country, developing the genetics that are used on a significant portion of all the soybean acres planted in the U.S.
Stine was raised in rural Dallas County, Iowa. He went on to receive a bachelor’s degree from McPherson College in McPherson, Kansas. After college, Stine returned home to help his father Bill who, in addition to farming and raising hogs, had established Stine Seed Farm to clean public soybean varieties.
In the late 1960s Stine joined with four other seedsmen in forming Improved Variety Research (IVR), one of the first private soybean research and development companies in the nation. In 1973 IVR was dissolved, and Stine and head plant breeder Bill Eby founded Midwest Oilseeds, which today is the industry’s leading soybean genetics developer.
In 1979 Stine began selling soybean seed under his own label, Stine Soybean Seeds. In 1992, Stine began selling corn and soft red winter wheat under the Stine label.
Through it all, Stine has remained a farmer first, and seedsman and businessman second. His love for the land has kept Stine involved in nearly all aspects, even as his companies have experienced tremendous growth.
His efforts in the field of agriculture have not gone unnoticed. In 1989 Stine was named Agrimarketer of the Year by the Iowa chapter of the National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA), as well as the Ernst & Young Iowa/Nebraska Entrepreneur of the Year. In 2000 the Des Moines Register named him as one of the 50 most influential people in Iowa. In 2002 Stine received an honorary doctorate degree from McPherson College, and in 2003 Stine was inducted into the Iowa Business Hall Of Fame. Then, in 2007 the Iowa Biotechnology Association recognized Stine with its Entrepreneurial Achievement Award, while the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation honored him with its Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award.
Why do you believe STEM Education/workforce development are critical to our nation's future?
STEM education/workforce development is critical to our nation’s future because it is what drives advancement. Where there is a strong focus on STEM, there is a focus on innovation. Every issue faced by modern society – from hunger, to medicine, to energy and conservation – will require the application of STEM principles to be effectively managed.
How do you believe STEM education can improve a nation's competitiveness?
A strong country requires bright minds, minds that can work through the complex nature of the modern world and seek better solutions. Countries with an emphasis on STEM education are better able to seek these solutions, to harness the power of technology for the greater good, which ultimately makes them more competitive in today’s global environment.
Beyond Standards, what are the first steps we should take to curb the STEM education crisis?
First and foremost, we need to make STEM education accessible to all students, at all levels. A student that is eager to learn should not be denied the opportunity to study STEM subjects due to budgetary constraints. Secondly, we need to make STEM education engaging, which means gearing curriculum to be relatable to the students and the world around them. Perhaps most importantly, we need to train and recruit quality teachers who can ignite the spark for learning and keep students motivated to always remain curious.
How do we encourage students to continue their study of STEM subjects, particularly women and underrepresented minorities?
We know that the thirst for knowledge begins at an early age so, in order to maintain emphasis on STEM subjects, we must start with young students. From there we need to gear curriculum to focus on improving our students’ critical thinking, which is the foundation for STEM education. Finally, we need to encourage students from all walks of life to join the conversation, as the best ideas come when you have a wide range of inputs.
What traits do corporate leaders need to effectively support and advance STEM education today?
As a farmer, and due to my involvement in plant breeding, I would say that the area of STEM that I am most passionate about is science.