Volunteer teams of Cargill employees climb some of the world’s major mountains to raise money for charity.
Throughout Cargill’s 150 years, its employees have consistently donated their time, talent and financial resources to help improve their communities. In 1990, this volunteerism was unified under the global banner “Cargill Cares,” with local Cargill Cares Councils creating enrichment initiatives that aligned with the needs of their communities. Their work took many forms, from volunteering in schools and partnering with non-profit organizations to fundraising through walks and marathons.
In the early 1990s, a group of employees envisioned a new way to support Cargill Cares initiatives: climbing mountains for charity. Summit missions brought together teams of employee climbers from around the world, taking the company’s focus on community engagement to new heights.
The first peak conquered was Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa. Organized and led by Bob Sewell, manager of Cargill Africa in Nairobi, a team of eleven climbers ascended the mountain to raise funds for the 1991 International Special Olympics, a global competition for athletes with intellectual disabilities. The 52-mile journey took five days, posing challenges like altitude sickness, sub-zero temperatures and oxygen deprivation. Still, ten of the eleven climbers reached the 19,341-foot (5,895-meter) summit, well over Kilimanjaro’s average completion rate of 35%.
“I would never choose mountain climbing…as something I would do for myself, by myself. It simply would not have happened without this cause-related mission.”— Jon Yeager, Marketing Director and Photographer, Cargill
Two years after climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, expedition members Dave Rogers, executive director of Cargill Europe, and Jon Yeager, a Cargill marketing director, assembled a new team of employees from around the world to climb mountains in Latin America and collect donations for organizations promoting world literacy. Each member of the team summited at least two peaks in the Ecuadorian Andes. Together, they helped Cargill contribute more than US $127,000, with more than 80% coming from individual donations.
Additional climbs up Huayna Potosi in Bolivia and Mount McKinley in Alaska helped support Cargill Cares initiatives like literacy, farm safety and water quality. By 2003, the climbs had collected almost US $1 million in charitable donations. “It was a fascinating experience that left us with some unbelievable memories of true wilderness,” said Rogers, who participated in nearly all of the excursions. “But most importantly, an awful lot of deserving people in communities near Cargill offices and plants will benefit.”
Today, more than 350 employee-led Cargill Cares Councils implement community involvement activities in dozens of countries throughout Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America and North America. Collectively, employees donate thousands of volunteer hours and millions of dollars, demonstrating an ongoing commitment to making meaningful impact in their local communities.