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Letter from the Chairman
This annual report covers the calendar year ending December
2008, the tenth year of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.
Our first decade has been gratifying and even amazing to me.
We started with no staff and no building. Now we have a total
staff of 220 people in a functional and attractive facility. We are
ahead of our financial projections and our scientific hopes.
A key step was convincing Roger Beachy to join as our founding president. We owe our rapid
advances to his vision, his energy, his deep understanding of science, his entrepreneurial
insights into how our science might be funded, and his ability to attract outstanding people,
who have contributed so much toward realizing our goals.
We are indebted also to those who saw our potential and provided the funds that have
brought us thus far as well as to our many enthusiastic volunteers who have given us their
time and energy as well as their treasure.
While we can point to many triumphs in our first decade, there have also been challenges.
The fall in value of our endowment due to the economic downturn has been a setback that
we did not foresee. Thus, our current endowment is behind our expectations of two years ago,
but still on-track with my expectations when founding the Center 10 years ago.
I am comforted and pleased that there are financial bright spots. We continue well ahead of
projections for grant income. Even more encouraging is the generosity of our donors, who
participated in record numbers in 2008. We are in this for the long haul; markets will go up
and down; persistence in the pursuit of our mission will be our constant.
This letter is written in the beginning of the third quarter of our 11th year, a time of great
expectations about which I look forward to reporting next year.
Letter from the President
As we begin the second decade since the founding of the
Danforth Center, it is tempting to look back and talk about what
has been accomplished and take some degree of satisfaction from
doing so. Assessment of past accomplishments is important, but it
can have greater value when the outcome is used to look forward
to where we want to be in 10 years.
It is certain that the need for even more and better plant science will be critical to meet the
challenges of a growing and hungry population, to protect the environment in a changing
climate while building a renewable future based on plants and agriculture, and enhancing
Midwest economic competitiveness through new enterprises.
Danforth Center scientists are meeting these challenges through their work. In 2009 and
in the coming decade you and others that participate in our Mission will see the outcomes
manifested through breakthrough research discoveries; in field trials of disease resistant and
bioenhanced crops in Africa; in finding new uses for plants and algae and the products that
they produce, among others.
The first decade has been exciting to be a part of – the next decade is, however, even more
promising as we work to achieve the Mission and Vision of the Danforth Center.
2 2008 Annual Report
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