Editor’s view

I never play favorites in my columns, especially with industry companies. So please understand that this column isn’t about Bayer CropScience. It’s about the people who work for Bayer CropScience, specifically its Environmental Science division, which serves the golf course maintenance industry.

This column is about those Bayer people caring about other people, something we don’t hear enough about these days.

Amidst all the bad news you hear and read about every day – some of it so disheartening that it’s hard to fathom – I want to tell you about what the more than 200 Environmental Science people did to celebrate the parent company’s 150th anniversary on Aug. 1, all in the name of caring and helping others.

To celebrate the anniversary, the Bayer group could’ve gone on a golfing trip at a lavish resort, which would’ve been perfectly fine. But that’s what makes this story even more inspiring.

The Bayer Environmental Science team – including Jose Milan, head of turf & ornamental business operations, and Scott Welge, head of turf & ornamental marketing – traveled to the Denver area to work – as in getting down and dirty – on a ranch.

The ranch, Zuma’s Rescue Ranch in Littleton, Colo., is an animal-assisted learning center that pairs rescued horses with at-risk children. They come together at the ranch to bond with one another. By helping the horses in their healing process, the children realize they can be worthwhile contributors to society – that they can make a difference through love and care.

But the Zuma Ranch itself needed some love and care, too. The sprawling property had been neglected for a few years because of budget cuts. It had become rundown and overgrown with weeds. The idea was that if the ranch received a makeover, the improved habitat would boost the enthusiasm and morale of the children. Nobody knows better than golf course superintendents how nice it is to spend your days working in beautiful surroundings.

Enter the Bayer folks, who separated into 12 teams, each with eight to 12 members. They went to work to beautify the ranch, doing landscaping, construction and other maintenance updates. Welge, who did some construction work during high school and college, helped build a pergola (arbor).

In his 27 years at Bayer, Welge has attended many company meetings and gatherings, but nothing like this.

“If you look at what we do every day, it’s not about killing an insect, a turf disease or a weed,” Welge says. “That’s easy to do. It’s about providing a better place for people to live, work and play … about fostering a healthier environment. That’s the value we bring. This was a perfect choice for our organization.”

When the day was over, and Welge and his colleagues had the chance to literally look back and see what the team had accomplished, they saw a place that sparkled. Everyone, including Zuma Ranch employees, was proud.

But personally, Welge also felt more grounded, even humbled. He gained a better perspective on his life. He spoke of a higher purpose, of wanting to do more to help his own community.

Although Welge and the Bayer team visited the Zuma Ranch in August, I chose to write about their experience now during this season of giving. It is also my final column of the year, and I like to end on a positive note.

But this isn’t about my columns or me. It’s about the column’s message – evoked through the Bayer team’s generous undertaking – to help others in need.

One last note, I sought out Welge to hear about his experience at the Zuma Ranch; he wasn’t seeking any publicity. Welge told me the story because he wants his experience to inspire others to do something similar.

Listening to the news every day, I have a gut feeling that there’s more need in this world than there has ever been, at least in my lifetime. I will continue to be inspired by the Bayer’s team mission.

I hope you are, too.