ECHO Staff members strive everyday to serve the poor in their various roles!
Agricultural Training Department
Rick Burnette, Director of Agriculture
Rick received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of Tennessee in Plant and Soil Science. His involvement in Asia began in the mid-1980s when he worked with an agricultural project in the southern Philippines. Ten years later Rick and his wife, Ellen, co-founded the Upland Holistic Development Project offering agriculture and community development outreach among hilltribe communities along the Thai-Burma border. Between 2009 and 2013, he directed ECHO's Regional Impact Center in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Rick has served as Director of Agriculture at ECHO in Ft. Myers, Florida, since 2013.
Brian Flanagan, Intern Manager
Brian grew up in Haiti . He has a background in biology, international agriculture and rural development with degrees from Oklahoma Panhandle State University and Cornell University. Brian was an ECHO intern from 2002-2003 and worked in Haiti for seven years after completing his internship. Brian has been involved in various community development projects throughout Haiti and in multiple other countries.
Craig Bielema, Appropriate Technology Manager
Craig completed a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Dordt College in 2007 and joined ECHO as an intern in September 2011. He then was asked to join the ECHO staff in September of 2012. Craig has served as Appropriate Technology Manager since 2015.
Renee Gill, Agriculture Department Associate
Renee holds a B.A. in Community Development from Covenant College with a specialization in International Micro-Finance. Having worked for organizations such as FINCA International and Lionbridge Technologies, Renee earned many years of experience in training and international development.
Agricultural Operations Department
Tim Watkins, Head of Agricultural Operations
Tim has a background in biology and horticulture with a degree from Bethel University. Tim was an intern from January 2001 to January 2002 and returned to ECHO after time in the Central African Republic. Tim's interests include camping and refinishing antique furniture.
Andy Cotarelo, Farm Manager
Andy Cotarelo has been with ECHO since 2006 when he was an ECHO Intern. Andy has a BS in Biology. His background includes teaching High School science both domestically and abroad for 6 years. His overseas passion is focused in Senegal and his experience is growing as he manages the many aspects of ECHO's Global Farm.
Lydia Hofland, Propagation Manager
Lydia holds a BA in Community Development from Covenant College. During her undergraduate studies she completed a research internship with Growing Nations in Lesotho, Southern Africa, an organization focused on conservation agriculture techniques. She first joined ECHO as a Rainforest Intern and returns after working on several organic farms.
Holly Sobetski, Seedbank Manager
Holly is from Nebraska and received an AS degree in Science from York College and a BS in Agriculture Missions from Lubbock Christian University. She was an ECHO intern (Lowlands/Seedbank) from 2005 – 2006. She also served as the Assistant Seedbank Manager for a month following her internship. From 2006 – 2013 she worked in Cambodia as an Agriculture Development Worker and Consultant.
Luke Dallmann, Agriculture Operations Assistant
Luke is from Colorado but spent most of his growing up years in Cameroon. He graduated from Columbia International University with a degree in Intercultural Studies in 2012.
Agricultural Tech & Research Department
Dr. Tim Motis, Agriculture Technical and Research Director
Tim Motis grew up in Ethiopia and Liberia, and served as an agriculturalist in Ethiopia for two years before earning his PhD in Horticulture at the University of Florida. He has been on staff with ECHO since 2003. Currently, he oversees ECHO’s Agriculture Technical and Research Division. His team coordinates ECHO research activities, produces informational resources relevant to small-scale farmers, responds to inquiries from ECHO's international network, and maintains a library of resources pertaining to tropical agriculture.
Dawn Berkelaar, Co-editor of ECHO Development Notes (EDN)
Dawn came to ECHO in the fall of 1999 as an intern with a bachelors degree and masters degree in biology. She and her husband, Edward, lived and worked at ECHO for three years after their marriage. Dawn works out of her home in Canada. Her interests include running, reading, and writing.
Bob Hargrave, Technical Research Coordinator, Agricultural Consulting Services
Bob has a background of agricultural missions in Kenya, Africa, with expertise in drought resistant crops and famine relief distribution. Bob works with ECHO's Technical Response Unit answering requests from missionaries and development workers overseas. His interests include dry land and tropical agriculture.
Brad Ward, Central America & Caribbean Regional Impact Team Coordinator
Brad has been working with small holder agriculture, particularly in the Central America and Caribbean region since 2006. Before coming to ECHO in 2012, Brad, his wife and two daughters lived in the highlands of Western Honduras working with subsistence farmers on an integrated development project which included intensive vegetable production, soil conservation and community scale irrigation systems. Brad also spent 3 years working on Honduras’ North coast establishing and managing a bio-diverse farm that produced income through organically produced African oil palm, and also provided staple crops, fresh vegetables, lamb and pasture raised broilers for a mission hospital and children’s home. Brad is a certified Permaculture designer and is involved in community food security initiatives throughout Southwest Florida. Brad attended Judson Baptist College and received his permaculture training through Oregon State University.
Stacy Reader, Research & Publication Associate
Stacy is from Pittsburgh and graduated from Boston College in 2013 with a major in Biology and minor in International Studies. In college, she managed the campus greenhouse and was a Teaching Assistant for several ecology courses. During undergraduate studies, she researched Switchgrass as a biofuel and the tri-trophic interactions among Monarch caterpillars, Mycorrhizal Fungi and Milkweed. Stacy has traveled to Uganda, Rwanda, Ghana and Burkina Faso for various short-term endeavors and has spent time as an agricultural consultant in Tanzania.
Patt Voorhis, Librarian
Patt Voorhis visited ECHO on a mission trip shortly after coming to the area and soon became a volunteer. She served as a volunteer in the Development Department for over a year before joining the ECHO staff as Tour Coordinator. Patt became the ECHO Librarian in 2016.
Advancement & Public Relations
Danielle Flood, PR and Communications Manager
Danielle came to ECHO in December 2007 after serving as a missionary in Niger, West Africa for two years. She has a degree in Spanish and enjoys learning languages and cultures, kayaking, picnicking and basically anything outdoors. She and her husband look at ECHO as an opportunity to serve the missionary community and want to be faithful to serve God wherever he plants them.
Amy Wiggins, Donor Stewardship Manager
Amy has a bachelors in Corporate Journalism from Auburn University. Before joining ECHO, she worked in education and corporate communications. Having a passion for making a difference in the lives of children in need, Amy has served as a member of the board of trustees for the Florida Baptist Children’s Homes. She has taken mission trips with her family to orphanages in Ecuador and a malnutrition clinic in Guatemala.
Daphne Fowler, Grant Writer
Daphne originally came to ECHO as an intern in 2004, and rejoined as Grant Writer in 2013. She and her husband served as community development advisors in Cambodia for 3 years, prior to which they graduated from Fuller Seminary in California. Daphne also served at an agriculture project in Burkina Faso for a year, and loves learning about God's world. Other loves include hiking, photography, cooking Asian food, and exploring her home in Atlanta with her family.
ECHO Asia Impact Center
Abram Bicksler, Director of the ECHO Asia Impact Center
Abram completed his undergraduate studies at Taylor University, where he was first exposed to environmental science and missions and became excited about how agricultural development can be used in conjunction with the Gospel. Abram finished his M.S. and Ph.D in sustainable agriculture at the University of Illinois, where he also met his wife, Becca. Together in 2009, they moved to Chiang Mai, Thailand, where Abram worked as an instructor at ISDSI (International Sustainable Development Studies Institute), and began to coordinate research for the ECHO Asia Impact Center.
Daniela Riley, Office Manager at the ECHO Asia Impact Center
Daniela (DJ) graduated from Texas Christian University in 2000 with a degree in Advertising. DJ first came to Asia in 2004 to serve among the people of Central Asia. Now living in Chiang Mai with her family of 4 since 2012, she hopes to complete her MBA this year focusing on Corporate Social Responsibility among foreign-owned companies in China and Southeast Asia. DJ is passionate about holistic ministry among the people of Southeast Asia.
Boonsong Thansrithong (Toh), Agricultural Program Manager
Toh holds a B.S. in Agriculture from Mae Jo University and a M.S. in Agriculture Extension from Chiang Mai University. Before coming to ECHO, Toh worked with Partners Relief and Development and has done work with aid relief and development across the Thai-Burma border, including natural farming training. Toh joined ECHO in 2012. He and his wife live in Chiang Mai.
Wenika Oimoon (Tak), Legal and Office Assistant
Tak is from Phayao, Northern Thailand. She has a degree in accounting from Payap University. Tak joined the ECHO Asia staff part-time in April of 2014 and also works for the Prosperous Youth Foundation. She has a passion for serving with Christian organizations in Thailand. Tak lives in Chiang Mai with her five dogs.
Rattakarn Arttawuttikun (Wah), Seed Bank Manager
Originally from Jamnoi village in Chiang Mai province, Wah holds a degree in management from Chiang Rai Rajaphat University. Before coming to ECHO in 2010, she worked at the Upland Holistic Development Project (UHDP) in Mai Ai, Chiang Mai province. Outside of working in ECHO's seed production plots and managing the seed bank's daily operations, Wah also likes to prepare (delicious!) food from forest ingredients.
Kitichai Sampunsinkor (Chai), Seed Production Manager
Chai is from Maejam in Chiang Mai province, Thailand. He studied plant science and holds a degree in Science / Agriculture Technology from Chiang Mai Rajaphat University. Before coming to work for ECHO Asia, Chai worked at the Upland Holistic Development Project and prior to that worked for Thailand's Royal Development Project. In his free time, Chai enjoys gardening, raising animals, and playing footbal.
Yuwadee Danmalidoi (Paw), Information and Quality Control Technician
Paw joined ECHO Asia staff in 2013 as the Information and Quality Control Technician. She is from Baan San Muang (A. Kanlayaniwatana, in Northern Thailand). Paw studied English Business as Rajaphat Univeristy in Chiang Mai. In the past, she worked at Compassion Thailand, where she did data management and reporting for their Children's Programs. In her free time, Paw enjoys playing guitar and listening to music. She can also often be seen driving her motorcycle through the countryside in Northern Thailand.
Asang Siemrai (Sang), Seed Bank Technician
Sang is from Huay Sai Khao village, Chiang Mai Province. Before coming to ECHO in 2010, he worked at an orphanage in Chiang Mai. He now lives in Mai Ai with his wife, Soi, and their three year old son.
Chaiporn Siriraksook (Earth), Seed Bank Technician
Originally from Mae Om Soon village in Chiang Mai province, Earth has a degree in Livestock from San Paa Tong College. He joined ECHO Asia's seed bank staff in 2012.
Zachary Price, Senior Technical Advisor
Zachary is originally from Littlefield TX and has worked in Relief & Development for 15 years. Zachary lived with his family in Southern Africa for 10 years before moving to Thailand. Zachary is a trained cabinet maker and builder with experience in sustainable agriculture, earthquake relief, and refugee care amongst other things. He is married to Anneke Price from South Africa and together they have three daughters, Arielle, Zoe and Charlotte Ann.
Patrick Trail, Research & Technical Associate
Patrick is originally from Louisiana, but spent most of his growing-up years overseas. He lived in Rwanda, Mauritius, and Botswana before returning to the U.S. to begin university. After completing his undergraduate degree, Patrick returned to Virginia Tech where he completed a Master’s degree in Crop & Soil Environmental Sciences. Patrick worked as a research assistant on a Feed the Future project in Senegal – Education and Research in Agriculture (ERA) – where he looked into the benefits of growing various legume crops in association with pearl millet. Patrick returns as a former Monsoon intern, and is excited about living and working on a new continent!
ECHO East Africa Impact Center
Erwin Kinsey, Director of the ECHO East Africa Impact Center
Erwin Kinsey was born and raised on a Vermont dairy and maple farm. He volunteered with the American Friends Service Committee in Mexico for two years before finishing his Bachelor of Science in Animal Science from the University of Vermont. He has worked for 35 years promoting food security of small, low-income farmers and pastoralists, first with Heifer International in Tanzania and across Africa from 1977-2007, and for Global Service Corps in Tanzania from 2007-2012. He obtained a Masters in Rural Development from the University of London SOAS in 2008 and has written numerous farmer manuals and publications.
Adivekson Harold, Demonstration Plot Assistant
Adive's family comes from Kilimanjaro, and he now lives in Ngaramtoni with his wife and young son. He has worked at the Impact Center since September 2012, and brings a light-hearted spirit to his daily tasks. Adive maintains the demonstration plots, collects and cleans seed for storage, keeps the office clean, and sells produce and seedlings to Impact Center visitors and neighbors. He has worked as a gardener for years, and definitely has a green thumb!
Moses Phineas, Accountant
Moses was born in Arusha, and completed his Bachelor's of Business Administration and Accounting in 2012. He is a freelance accountant, currently pursuing a Master's degree, and is active in the ELCT (Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania). Moses joined ECHO East Africa team in March of 2013, and works with to keep finances and official paperwork in order.
Charles Bonaventure, Technical Advisor
Charles Bonaventure (called "Bonny”), is a long-term Technical Advisor for ECHO East Africa. Bonny worked with the Tanzanian government since 1986 before joining World Vision Tanzania in 2004 as Agriculture Trainer. For eight years, he served with World Vision Tanzania in various capacities. Prior to joining ECHO, he worked with Global Service Corps. Bonny comes from the Kilimanjaro region and is blessed with three children. He holds two bachelor degrees in Horticulture (Tanzania) and Rural Development (The Netherlands). Bonny joins ECHO with a passion for agricultural development and practices that will reduce hunger, improve livelihoods, and increase community resilience.
Sophia Kasubi, Executive Assistant
Sophia received a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with specialization in social policy, planning and administration from the University of Dar es Salaam. Prior to working with ECHO, she worked with Global Service Corps as Personal/Administrative Assistant and Africa Agribusiness Academy as Project Assistant. She has also attended courses on First Aid, MBTI, Microsoft Access and Capacity Building training. She is married with two children.
Harold Msanya, Innovation Coordinator
Harold has six years experience managing programs with Catholic Relief Services and ten years managing community-based programs with World Vision –Tanzania. He holds a Bachelor degree in Civil Engineering and is married with two children. He attended several courses like project management cycles, monitoring and evaluation, integrated water resources management, sand dam technologies, and appreciative inquiry
Happy Martin, Appropriate Technology Trainer
Happy joined ECHO as Appropriate Technology trainer under IDIN project. She has appropriate technology skills and experience, acquired while working with Global Service Corps, World Vision, Farm Concern, and Mwedo. She has attended courses like capacity building training, agriculture, and carpentry. She hopes to continue with further Appropriate Technology training.
Venance Mollel, Appropriate Technology Trainer
Venance has vast skills and experience in carpentry, farming, photography and masonry. He is an appropriate technology trainer under IDIN project. Prior to working with ECHO, he worked with Global Service Corps, Kilimo Markets and Mennonite Central Committee. He attended creative capacity building and entrepreneurship courses. He is married with three children.
West Africa Impact Center
Robert Sanou, Director of the ECHO West Africa Impact Center
For over 15 years Robert has directed the work of ACCEDES, a multi-sectoral development organization in Burkina Faso. Mr. Sanou holds a Master’s degree in Project Management and a Juris Doctor degree in Law. He is a French and English-speaking Burkinabé who has served on Boards of regional organizations, consulted for European and U.S. entities, and traveled widely throughout the region and the world.
Alain Gouba, Agricultural Specialist
Alain Gouba has (the equivalent of) an Associate’s degree as an Animal Husbandry Technician, a Bachelor’s degree in Adult Development & Education, a Master’s degree in Social Change & Development Pedagogy, and a Master’s in Sustainable Agriculture. He worked 24 years for the government before becoming an independent consultant with an international NGO. Since 2013, he has been working as the Agricultural Specialist for ECHO’s Regional Impact Center in West Africa. Alain is married and the father of three children.
Noemi Kara, Administrative Assistant
Noemi has a high school specialization in bookkeeping and a university level degree in Organizational Management from the Université Saint Thomas d’Acqin in Burkina Faso. Noemi also received a Master’s in Project Management from Coventry University/United Kingdom represented by Ghana Technology University College in Accra/Ghana. She has worked for a number of companies including BICIA-B bank and media and broadcasting companies. She also had a brief stint with Compassion International in Ghana.
Bernard Sié Kansié (Promesse), Community Garden and Appropriate Technology Specialist
Bernard, also known as Promesse, has a Law Degree from the University of Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso. Working with various associations since 2011, he has a particular passion for agriculture, especially for gardening. Promesse joined the ECHO West Africa team in 2014 as the Garden Manager, and with his skills and experience, he has become a trainer in appropriate technologies and home/community garden techniques.
David Erickson, President/CEO
David is originally from Rochester, Minnesota. From 2005-2010 David served as COO of World Hope International, a relief and development organization working with the poor in 23 countries. Prior to this, David served for 20 years as President & Co-Founder of Samaritan Inns, Inc., an award-winning community and faith-based organization providing alternative treatment, housing, and support services to formerly homeless men and women in recovery from drug and alcohol abuse. In 2001, David was named an Ashoka Fellow for social innovation and entrepreneurship. In 1999 he was recognized by The Meyer Foundation as “one of the region’s most visionary nonprofit leaders for the 21st century.” Previously he launched the economic and demographic forecasting firm Woods & Poole Economics and served as Economic & Policy Analyst at the U.S. EPA. David holds a Master of Public Policy degree from Harvard University and a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota-Morris.
Tim Albright, Chief Operations Officer
Tim joined the ECHO staff in August of 2009. He graduated from Nyack College with a BS in Missions and also met his wife, Ruth, there. He earned a Master's degree from Columbia International University. Tim, a missionary kid from Mali, worked for 23 years in community development. Based in Burkina Faso, he served as a regional consultant for CAMA Services in health, education, micro enterprise and food security.
Bruce Wilson, Director of Strategic Initiatives
Bruce is an internationally experienced leader who has served as a pastor, team leader, educational adviser, and consultant. Bruce worked in Indonesia for eleven years before returning to the US in 2002 to serve as the missions pastor at College Church in Wheaton for fourteen years. Bruce graduated from Wheaton College and has done further study at the Wheaton Graduate School and Universitas Padjadjaran. Bruce has spoken at colleges and seminaries around the world. His travels have taken him to 60 countries. Bruce and his wife, Becky, have been in pastoral and cross-cultural ministry for 28 years. They have two sons.
Leslie Tudor Kasdaglis, Executive Assistant
Leslie moved to Fort Myers in 2016. A graduate of UNC-Charlotte, she holds a BS degree in Business Administration. Prior to joining ECHO, she held administration and sales positions in the travel, entertainment, and interior design fields. She is delighted to be able to bring her skills and background to directly impact and bring the love of Christ to the lives of others.
Tina Ugland, Director of Finance
Tina joined the ECHO staff in 2008. She graduated from Edison State College with an AS Degree in Accounting and has experience working in profit and non-profit industries. She met her husband, Roy, in 1988 and they have been blessed with Bjorn, who is their only child. Her interests outside of accounting include animal rights and nature conservancy.
Bob Rainey, Accounting Clerk
Bob and wife, Kathy, moved to Cape Coral, FL in 2013. Bob has a degree in Computer Information Systems and was a technical manager in the banking industry until deciding to move to SW Florida. Bob and Kathy have 3 children and 4 grandkids. Bob served as church treasurer at his church in Wilmington, Delaware. Bob believes working at ECHO in the Finance Department is a perfect fit in his faith journey.
Woldine Gallini, Human Resources Manager
Woldine moved from Haiti to the United States in 1995 as a teenager with her family. She holds a B.S. in Finance from Liberty University. Before joining ECHO, she spent the last 10 years working in administration in the Wealth Management, Mortgage and Retail Banking industry. She’s passionate about mission, serving in the church and her community. She enjoys spending time with her husband, Jason Gallini, and family, including a son and stepson.
Ellen Burnette, Retail Manager/Administrative Department Associate
Ellen and her husband, Rick, lived in Thailand for 19 years. They co-founded a development project with outreach among hilltribe communities along the Thai-Burma border. In 2009, Rick and Ellen were asked to start the ECHO Asia Impact Center in Chiang Mai Thailand. Ellen served as the Office Manager until their return to the U.S. in 2013.
Russ Luther, Tour Coordinator
After college and seminary, Russ and his family served as missionaries in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. After their time in Africa, they were called to church ministry back in America. It was during that time Russ heard about ECHO. Aware of the needs of small scale farmers in difficult climates, when he read ECHO's Vision: Honoring God Through Sustainable Hunger Solutions, Russ gladly accepted to move to Florida and join our staff.
Anil John, System & Network Administrator
Anil has a BS in Chemistry and an AS in Computer Networking and Administration. He moved from India to the United States in 2006, with his wife, Susan, and daughter, Dona. Before moving to the U.S., Anil worked in India for more than ten years with various digital publishing companies. He believes the only reason he came to ECHO is God’s plan. His role at ECHO includes supporting everyone on campus with their IT related technical issues which facilitates their role in ECHO’s Mission of equipping people with agricultural skills and resources.
Nate Flood, Digital Media Specialist
Nate Flood is from suburban Detroit and is a graduate of Cedarville University. With a background in broadcast management and production, he came to ECHO after 10 years with WAY MEDIA, where he first served as Director of Marketing, and later as the Director of Operations for the Southwest Florida market. Nate specializes in software development with an emphasis on real-time systems integration, but is truly passionate about the outdoors.
Pete Singer, Physical Plant Supervisor
Pete joined ECHO in 2010 after spending 35 years in a construction and property management career. He attended Northwestern Bible College in Roseville, MN. Pete enjoys spending time with his wife, Sandy, and family, including his seven grandchildren. He loves reading and working with exotic woods, creating furniture pieces for family and friends. He enjoys leading small-group Bible studies and serves on the Vision Team for his church.
Jhon Ayazo, Assistant Physical Plant Supervisor
Jhon joined Echo in 2012 after spending 20 years in construction and landscape maintenance. Jhon came from Columbia in 1998 and enjoys spending time with his wife, Sandra and family. Jhon has recently become a grandfather and he and Sandra enjoy helping with their new granddaughter. Jhon is the leader of the Hispanic Ministry at his church and serves on the church board.
Trish Ward, Hospitality Coordinator
Trish, Brad, Sydney and Sammey are originally from Oregon but lived six years in Honduras before coming to ECHO in 2012. While in Honduras, Trish worked in the eye clinic, as well as ran the guest house. She likes gardening and is excited to see what can be grown in Florida. She is glad to return to the country of libraries and air conditioning.
Letty Florian, Housekeeping
Marta “Letty” Florian, married her childhood friend, Edgar Herrera. Letti has 2 daughters. She and Edgar moved here from Brooklyn, NY though they are originally from Guatemala. Over the years they have cared for 2 grandchildren as well.
Helen Fraelich, Housekeeping
Helen was an ECHO volunteer for years before she was hired with housekeeping. Born in Michigan, she moved here in 1997. Helen lives in Lehigh Acres and has 3 children and 6 grandchildren. She was laid off from her job in 2008 and began volunteering at ECHO. In January 2009 she started her own cleaning business.
Debra Johnson, Volunteer Coordinator
Deb was led to ECHO initially as a volunteer in January 2013 and quickly realized she needed to be more involved with the amazing work being done at the Global Farm. She holds a BA and pursued her love of gardening and farm life in beautiful Eastern PA. She has over 27 years of experience in the manufacturing world.
Carolyn Gullett, Retail Associate
Carolyn and her husband are native Floridians. She has spent many years in the Banking Industry. They both serve as Care Pastors of Life Church and are establishing a safe house for minor female girls who have been victims of sex trafficking. She is enjoying every minute at ECHO and appreciates what ECHO stands for.
Dakota Struense, Retail Associate
Originally from Greensboro, North Carolina but now is a proud Florida resident, Dakota is currently enrolled in her last year of undergrad at FGCU focusing on Marketing and Advertising. Her love for the poor, impoverished, and under-educated led her to obtain a position at ECHO. Dakota is thrilled to be serving a ministry that incorporates missions into a world-wide educational relief effort.
Aaron Lynch, Retail Nursery Coordinator
Aaron Lynch, a true Floridian, has a passion for vegetable gardening, fruit trees, and sustainability. Married to his high school sweetheart, Aaron serves as an active member in the community, having organized several local initiatives such as Neighborhood Watch Group and an Adopt-A-Road.
Lindsay Passaro, Retail Associate
Lindsay Passaro is enjoying her new position at ECHO as Retail Associate and is excited to be a part of making a difference in the world. Prior to ECHO, she has worked in various customer service related positions. Lindsay has received her Associates degree in Music Performance, specializing in classical vocal studies and opera. Currently she is working towards a Bachelors in Business Management and is looking forward to seeing what God has planned for the future.
Charles Thibodeau, Retail/Nursery Associate
A native Floridian and hobbyist gardener, Charlie and his family recently moved over from the Fort Lauderdale area. With a background in education and health science, he was attracted to ECHO for their commitment in developing sustainable agricultural practices in poverty stricken areas of the world. He is a firm believer that optimal health begins with what you eat thus the importance of having a reliable and nutritious food source.
Melissa Larson, Lowlands
Melissa graduated from Iowa State University with a BS in Global Resource Systems and Environmental Science. She has worked in Uganda with the Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods, helping develop school gardens in rural communities and conducting research on local water resources. Melissa has also worked as an undergraduate research assistant, collecting and processing data related to agriculture water usage in Iowa.
Meg Robel, Urban Garden
Meg graduated from Lenape School of Practical Nursing in Kittanning, Pennsylvania and is a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). She has experience both domestically and internationally using her nursing degree. Meg has worked in Guinea-Bissau with the Eastern Mennonite Mission Clinic co-running a health center and in Cambodia with the organization, Mission of the World, training community based health workers and nurses in ways to decrease infant mortality.
Hannah van der Vorst, Monsoon
Hannah grew up mostly in Denver, Colorado. She graduated from Calvin College in May 2015 with a bachelor's in environmental engineering. In her last year at Calvin, she was part of a team that designed a solar powered ultraviolet water disinfection system for a rural community in Nicaragua. After graduation, Hannah spent a year gallivanting around the mountains of Colorado. She worked as an outdoor education instructor at the YMCA of the Rockies during the summer and fall, and as a ski instructor at Breckenridge during the winter. Hannah hopes to use her degree and love of the outdoors for international development work focusing on issues such as water conservation, food scarcity, and environmental sustainability
Eleni Patitsas, Mountains
Eleni has grown up in multiple states ranging from Pennsylvania to Texas. She earned her B.S. in Horticulture from Texas A&M University with an emphasis in Viticulture and Enology. While attending Texas A&M, she helped develop and manage the Howdy Farm, the school’s organic student farm and CSA. She has sailed and traveled extensively on various spiritual and personal trips, including the Semester at Sea program, in which she circumnavigated the globe in 4 months aboard a ship. She has staked her claim in the Texas Wine Revolution, working as Assistant Vineyard Manager of a winery in the Texas Hill Country and at a pair of beloved Greek Orthodox Christian Monastery vineyards on weekends. Eleni aspires to use her education, talents, and love of agriculture in the Mediterranean.
Sarah Garrison, Appropriate Technology
Sarah graduated from John Brown University (in Arkansas) with a Bachelor’s of Science in Renewable Energy and a specialization in International Development. Sarah, a missionary kid, lived in Burma and Thailand. In college she completed an internship in Thailand, where she learned to use natural farming methods and taught others to build bio digesters. After college Sarah completed Youth With A Mission’s Community Technology: Food Security program in Hawaii.
Ashley Crockett, Rainforest
Ashley graduated from Toccoa Falls College (GA) with a Bachelor’s of Science in Sustainable Community Development. She grew up as a Missionary kid in Papua, Indonesia. Since moving back to the United States, Ashley has completed several short term trips back to Papua where she has worked on various community development projects. During college Ashley interned in Sumatra, Indonesia, where she worked on a farm that raised cattle and grew coffee and citrus.
David Kusserow, Semi-Arid/Nursery
David graduated from Dordt College with a BS in Agriculture and a specialization in Plant Science. David, was raised in Niger. He spent a gap year working at an SIM hospital in Niger, improving landscaping, developing a small nursery and researching methods for the hospital to better manage their water supply. In college he has involved in Navigators, spending two summers in Jacksonville, Florida.
Kelly Wilson, Community Garden
Kelly graduated from Wheaton College with a B.S. in Environmental Science, a minor in Spanish and a certificate in Human Needs and Global Resources (HNGR). Kelly is from Overland Park, Kansas. During college she spent time throughout Latin America spending time in Nicaragua, Honduras, Ecuador, and Panama supporting various agriculture and community development work. She currently has been working as the interim Communications Specialist for HNGR.