Jeff Seale: An Anti-Poverty Activist Working in Sustainable Agriculture

Jeff Seale discovered the ONE Campaign like so many of us did–by clicking on something that caught his attention on Facebook. His interest in poverty dates back to the Ethiopian famine of 1984, though at that time, he didn’t know how to get involved.

He went off to college, eventually earning a Ph.D. in biochemistry. As he began working as a scientist at Monsanto, his interest in poverty surfaced again.

John Edwards ran for president and started talking about poverty in America around the same time Jeff started reading books about Bobby Kennedy. His company, Monsanto, held an awards ceremony where they gave out six different awards for sustainability. One of the awards was given to a project that brought drought tolerant corn to Africa.

“It was this weird conversion of events,” Jeff recalls. Before this ceremony, “I didn’t even know we did this type of work.”

He wanted in.

He began applying for jobs at Monsanto that more closely aligned with his passion of fighting poverty, but he was passed over for every position. “They were like we love your passion, but when it came time to find a job, it never happened,” he says. “I just didn’t have the background or the experience.”

So Jeff took his passion to the ONE Campaign. “If I can’t do this type of work for my job, then I’ll just do it somewhere else.”

He started signing petitions, then writing letters and making phone calls, and eventually going to Capital Hill to lobby as the Congressional District Leader for St. Louis.

Through his work with ONE, Jeff learned that democracy is an action word. “It’s not enough to go vote and then go back home and sit in your comfortable chair and complain about the government,” he says.

He became extremely active with ONE and says the passing of Electrify Africa was a defining moment for him. “We worked so hard both here and on Capitol Hill to make that happen.”

Jeff’s work with the ONE Campaign and his passion for fighting global poverty didn’t go unnoticed. “I got a call from one of my old bosses, and he said there’s a job and it’s perfect for you, and if it’s not, then it doesn’t exist here.”

Turns out that the job was perfect. Jeff applied and has been working in sustainable agriculture ever since. Much of his current work focuses on combating climate change. “Climate change and global hunger are two of the biggest challenges that the world faces and agriculture has a piece to play in both of them.”

There are almost a billion people who don’t have enough to eat and most of them live in places negatively affected by climate change. “Almost half of these people are farmers. They’re farmers in Sub Saharan Africa. They can’t grow enough food.”

Jeff is committed to fighting poverty. He’s made it his life’s work. In addition to making changes to agriculture that positively impact poor farmers, he will continue lobbying his political leaders to do their part to affect change.

“Thousands of dedicated people can use their collective voice and make a huge difference for people that don’t have a voice. ONE has shown this time and time again.”

He shares the following tips on how we can do our part:

  • Eliminate food waste; it’s one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gasses, so eat your leftovers, friends.
  • Grow some of your own food.
  • Be more cognizant of your food/diet and educate yourself on the environmental impacts of how your food is grown so you are making informed decisions.

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