In Love With Volunteering

Photo courtesy of Rachel and Jared Scoville

Photo courtesy of Rachel and Jared Scoville

What’s not to love about a honeymoon in Florida? Newlyweds have enjoyed lounging at the beach, touring Disney world...and now volunteering at ECHO! Just four days after their wedding on April 15th, Rachel and Jared Scoville dropped by ECHO for a day of volunteering and a tour.

When Jared went to school at Gordon College, he went on the school’s annual spring break trip to ECHO. He had the opportunity to become fully immersed in the experience of working there, including reinforcing the Global Classroom for hurricane protection, tending to the rabbits and working in the fields. Jared had so much fun, he started growing a Moringa tree in his dining room.

“I told everyone I knew about the Moringa tree just cause it was fun to talk about. Even to this day it's in our garden right now. I’ve gardened ever since.” Jared said.

When the Scoville started to plan their honeymoon, they thought Florida would be a good chance to go to the beach and visit ECHO.

Rachel had heard all about Jared’s fond memories from the farm, but didn’t quite know what to expect when she arrived. After taking a tour, she understood Jared’s excitement.

“It was truly an amazing experience. I was really blown away by ECHO and the impact they have around the world,” Rachel said.

Today, Rachel is working as a behavioral analyst in their town of Bristol, Connecticut. Jared is working toward his doctorate degree in physical therapy at the University of Hartford in Connecticut. In their free time the Scovilles tend to their 50x50 garden plot where their Moringa trees are growing.

If you are passionate about ECHO’s mission, sign up for a volunteer position on ECHO’s volunteer page.  

Training Trainers: ECHO West Africa 2015 Networking Forum

“Hungry to learn” and “excited to share” are only some of the phrases used to describe attendees of ECHO’s third biennial West African Networking Forum. But you would have to say “soif d’apprendre”, and “heureux de partager” because this forum was held entirely in French to better meet the needs of practitioners across Francophone West Africa. A complimentary English Forum was held in March in Accra, Ghana. (For more on that Forum, see pages 7-8)

Held this January in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, the Forum offered large-group presentations, hands-on workshops, and smaller breakout sessions for in-depth coverage of various topics. 

128 participants came from the following countries: Burkina Faso, Mali, Benin, Togo, Chad, Senegal, Niger, Nigeria, Ghana, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and the USA. 

Every attendee went home with their own special memories. Here are a few of our favorite highlights of the event: 

•    Jean Apedoh, who first learned about the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) through an ECHO Forum in 2010, was this year’s SRI Specialist presenting at the 2015 Forum. Through ECHO’s introduction of the topic and support, collaboration with other organizations in the region, and his own personal initiative, Jean says, “ECHO made me a champion and regional specialist in SRI.”

•    Emile Sanou and Josué Baya are also learners-turned-trainers who shared their experiences implementing Foundations for Farming (FFF) in a large group presentation and a hands-on afternoon workshop. 

•    The session on Biogas production presented by ECHO’s Alain Gouba was the most popular afternoon workshop with over 40 attendees. Alain was able to share a biogas system that was made completely with locally available materials. 

•    One attendee who at the 2010 and 2012 Forums learned about Moringa, paid for a display table and sold at least ten distinct Moringa products that he and his wife are now producing. These ranged from Moringa powder capsules and shampoo to dehydrated food packets that can be added to sauces.

•    Before the mid-morning break on the first day of the Forum, the French version of Agricultural Options for Small-Scale Farmers book from ECHO was introduced, and it literally took two minutes to sell out. Others have signed up on the waiting list so that when a new stock is available they will be able to receive one. 

We are thrilled that these individuals are taking the education and training available through ECHO and multiplying it far beyond ECHO’s reach. Together, we are truly training trainers.