ECHO's Mission and Vision
ECHO's Mission is to equip people with resources and skills to reduce hunger and improve the lives of the poor.
Education and Training
In the early 1970's Indiana businessman Richard Dugger led a group of high school students on a visit to Haiti and was deeply moved by the plight of people in developing countries. He and others made personal commitments to share their time and resources, they prayed and dreamed of ways to help meet the needs that they had seen. Other Christian laymen and clergy from Indiana and Florida caught the dream, and ECHO (Educational Concerns for Haiti Organization) was born. Until 1981 ECHO worked on various projects in Haiti. ECHO's role in international agricultural development was more clearly defined with the arrival of Former Executive Director, Dr. Martin Price, in June of 1981. The work in Haiti was closed, and all of ECHO's resources were directed towards strengthening the work of other organizations. Under his direction ECHO has become an ever growing pipeline for sharing information, ideas, techniques, methods, plants, books, materials, solutions ... whatever has potential to ease world hunger.
ECHO's primary functions are providing agricultural information to overseas workers, distributing seeds for promising food plants, and offering training opportunities at the Florida farm. ECHO's role and purpose as conceived in the early 1980's endures today, and as a result, ECHO's "history" is mostly a story of the expanding ministry.
One of Dr. Price's first decisions was to select a recent college graduate with an interest in international development to serve for a year as an ECHO intern. Interns are responsible for managing the farm and seedbank, giving tours, and much more. A second intern position was added in 1985, and by the fall of 1989 a new high of six interns were on staff. Additional personnel were necessary to handle the expanded seed bank and seed requests, growing farm duties, and the increasingly popular public tours.
The first issue of ECHO's highly regarded ECHO Development Notes(EDN) was published in 1982 and mailed to 36 interested individuals. This mailing list has grown steadily over the years. The most recent edition went out to over 3500 agricultural workers in 180 countries around the world.
ECHO began using computers in 1985. Now, all our correspondence, accounting, publishing, and record keeping is done with the help of computers. They have become an indispensable tool allowing us to work on a limited budget. The addition of e-mail and ECHO's web site greatly increased access to resources and the speed of response time to the overseas network.
During 1987 the office activities moved from a room in the lower level of the A-frame dormitory to a large rented office trailer, but by 1991 the "spacious" office trailer was badly crowded. ECHO purchased a 7 1/2 acre adjoining farm to provide housing and expansion space and the A-frame was remodeled to provide additional office space.
In 1998, a generous gift made it possible for ECHO to construct two large buildings, a visitor reception building and a technical resource building. The addition of these beautiful buildings has allowed for an expanded bookstore, tour reception area, and an expanded library as well as elbow-room for the office staff and volunteers.
In 2001, ECHO received a grant to develop the Global Village and Research Center in which 6 separate areas of third world climates are simulated. Each of the six agricultural interns takes care of his or her own climate zone. Currently featured on the farm are the tropical lowlands, tropical highlands, monsoon, semi-arid, rainforest clearing and urban garden. The global village is not only a hands on training ground for those searching for help in tropical agriculture, but also an educational tool to make the public aware of hunger related issues and the answers there are to alleviate malnutrion and starvation.
The view of the main office building, holding the Bookstore, Visitor Reception Center, and Front Office.
Nearly every aspect of ECHO's ministry has experienced substantial growth. The permanent staff is still growing with over 35 members. Volunteers give over 75,000 hours of work yearly. We now have 8 interns who reside, work and receive training for one year on the farm followed by three to six months in an overseas setting. More than 10,000 visitors toured our experimental/demonstration farm last year. Each year, agricultural development workers from around the world spend from a few days to a few months at ECHO where they use the library, attend seminars, and work alongside the interns in their projects for practical, hands-on experience. We now operate a resource center that contains over 4000 books and articles on agricultural for the Third World tropics. We also operate a nursery focused on rare tropical plants.
In 27 years of existence ECHO has matured from an idea into reality. In the future ECHO plans to continue to help meet the overwhelming need of small farmers around the world through the resources we are able to provide.