ST. LOUIS, June 27, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- At a ceremony last night in Tampa Bay, Fla., the Gulf of Mexico Program recognized Monsanto Company with the First Place 2013 Gulf Guardian Award in the Business/Industry Category for the company's Mississippi River Watershed Partnership. The Gulf of Mexico Program applauded the efforts of Monsanto and its partners for their efforts in environmental stewardship for the benefit of the Gulf of Mexico. "On behalf of the company, our employees and the farmers and partners involved in the Mississippi River Watershed Partnership, we are honored to receive this Gulf Guardian Award," said Jerry Steiner, executive vice president of sustainability and corporate affairs for Monsanto. "This partnership is a good example of working together to continually improve farming and conservation in the Mississippi River Watershed so that nature and people benefit from improved water quality and enhanced wildlife habitat." The Gulf of Mexico Program began in 1988 to protect, restore, and maintain the health and productivity of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem in economically sustainable ways. The Gulf of Mexico Program is underwritten by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and is a non-regulatory, inclusive consortium of state and federal government agencies and representatives of the business and agricultural community, fishing industry, scientists, environmentalists and community leaders from all five Gulf States. The Gulf of Mexico Program seeks to improve the environmental health of the Gulf in concert with economic development. The Mississippi River Watershed Partnership aimed to reduce nutrient runoff and sediment movement into the largest river system in the United States. Monsanto contributed a total of $5 million in financial support to agricultural and conservation groups— Delta Wildlife, The National Audubon Society and The Nature Conservancy—that worked with farmers and urban areas to help reduce runoff into the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. The Nature Conservancy and Delta Wildlife worked collaboratively with farmers to remove nutrients and sediment from agricultural runoff in the Mississippi River Basin. The National Audubon Society worked with homeowners and others to implement measures that can improve wildlife habitat and the quality of water entering the Mississippi River.