The ECHO Board Alumni is composed of those former Board members who have made many contributions of time, expertise, leadership and financial support to make ECHO the important mission organization that it has become. Each Board member has brought special skills, insights and energy which have all been used by God to bless the mission, growth and impact of ECHO on poor farmers throughout the world. We continue to be grateful for their commitment and service, and for their legacy which is demonstrated daily through the work of ECHO.
Wendy was the Manager of Horticulture at Walt Disney World. She had a Master’s of Agronomy from the University of Florida with a focus on weed sciences and forages. She had the opportunity to attend the first ECHO Asia conference in 2007 and the first ECHO East Africa Symposium in 2011. Wendy passed away while serving passionately on ECHO's Board of Directors in 2016.
“The impact that ECHO has on the lives of people around the world is exciting and humbling to me.”
Ron was born in Newark, New Jersey, and raised in, then rural, Clearwater Florida. His mother instilled in him the value of all people, regardless of race, educational level and nationality. That value persisted and shaped his choice of work and passions. Upon discharge from the Air Force in the early 1970s he met his wife Ann and they married in 1973. A variety of jobs prepared them for God's call to teach a family gardening technique called the “Grow Box,” and while in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in 1978, he founded a non-profit organization to fund a mission outreach to assist Haitian families. After some time he came in contact with ECHO via a board member visiting Haiti. He and his organization benefited from ECHO Development Notes and he realized that there were other people struggling to find solutions to local nutritional and life support issues.
On a trip to Florida in 1981, he visited ECHO and met the new Executive Director, Martin Price and toured the farm. Meeting an intern and seeing the facilities, then a modest A-frame building and demonstration gardens, he knew that this organization was a great resource. Later, Martin asked him to join the Board of Directors and provide some real world input. Other Board members were also experienced in Third-World development, and Board meetings were an inspiration to Ron to continue work in Haiti. On one occasion, a decision was made to hold a board meeting in Haiti and Ron arranged visits to several agriculture development activities involving Haitian and ex-patriot development workers. This meeting may have been foundational in expanding ECHO's vision, leveraging Martin's talent in responding to international needs and developing ECHO to the status as a great agent for change in the lives of people all around the world.
In 1987 he and Ann along with their two children, Jack and Anilia, who were born in Haiti, returned to the States where Ron started a computer business to support workers in developing countries. In 1994 he went to work for Virginia Tech University, where he is now manager of I.T. systems for the housing and dining department. He is also involved in emergency management. He enjoys traveling both virtually and literally on vintage motorcycles, and he has yet to meet a stranger.
Gayle Bundschu is the CFO/Controller and a part-owner, together with her husband and another partner, of Bundschu Kraft, Inc., a real estate, construction and land development company active in Southwest Florida for over 35 years. She has a B.S. Degree in Public Relations from the University of Florida and a B.S. Degree in Accounting from the University of South Florida. Gayle is an active member of her Presbyterian church in Fort Myers, and has served as a Sunday School teacher, a Stephen Minister and as a part of the Stephen Ministry leadership team.
"I first heard of ECHO in my church and there I have come to know many of its volunteers, interns and staff members. I have seen in them a sacrificial commitment and deep desire to help others in an unusually effective ministry. It is an honor and privilege for me to be associated with the people and the mission of ECHO.”
Jane R. “Janey” Burruss has three degrees in business [BBA, MBA, Ph.D.] as well as a JD from The University of Texas at Austin, has worked in multiple disciplines recently focusing on financial and legal planning for individuals, but also has served as an educator at the university level with The University of Tulsa, The University of Texas, Wright State University and St. Edward’s University, and has worked as a consultant with firms such as Hughes Aircraft Co., the Mead Paper Co., Twentieth Century Investors [now American Century], the Ayco Company, a Goldman Sachs private wealth management division subsidiary, and as an attorney for Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld. Jane now consults individuals and their families through Jane Burruss Advisory Services and is affiliated with Paratus Financial, Inc., a fee based family advisory services firm. As important to her is service on multiple social profit boards, each of which she has served as an officer and her work with the stewardship area of her church. Although single, she is the “aunt” to numerous children and delights in time with them on a routine basis.
Thomas K. Carpenter
Board Member Emeritus
Tom Carpenter is a native of Minnesota and was educated at schools in New England. He has served on numerous boards, including multiple terms on the ECHO Board of Directors. He became interested in ECHO in the 1980s and decided to help further its mission through a number of gifts, including a new Visitors’ Center, the Technical Building, a Bed & Breakfast, married housing facility, and a several other property purchases, including the White House, where the current administrative offices are housed. He has donated a number of other valuable artifacts from his travels around the world which are displayed throughout the campus. In recognition of his many contributions to ECHO, Tom was honored at a special meeting of the Board with the title of “Board Member Emeritus,” the first such honor given to a member of the ECHO Board.
"I'm glad we are able to do more to help the world by pulling together."
Gary Cooper has served 16 years on the ECHO Board since the early 1990s, Including two terms as Board Chair. He was instrumental in helping ECHO to develop a regular Agricultural Conference in Haiti, which he has attended several times. Gary holds a Bachelors degree in Agricultural Education from Purdue University. From 1964 to 1970 he worked as a Technical Representative for Geigy Agricultural Chemical Company in Illinois and Iowa. In 1970 Gary moved to Indiana and founded Agro-Chem, distributing and manufacturing technical spray equipment for farmers and agricultural dealers. In 1987 Gary sold his business to support various development organizations with a goal to help minimize world hunger. This dream has led Gary to serve on the boards of ECHO, Heifer Project, Opportunity International, and Living Hope Mission - Haiti.
"It has been a wonderful experience seeing ECHO grow to serve more people with more services! My volunteer work with ECHO acting as Martin Price's assistant with the formation and continuation of the Agricultural Conference in Haiti has been very rewarding."
Gloria Crosby has a bachelors degree from Moorhead State College in Moorhead, MN and taught Physical Education and Health in Melrose, MN for three years. Gloria then served with the Peace Corps in Costa Rica for 26 months working for the Ministry of Education during the school year and with a local orphanage during the summer months. After returning to the U.S., Gloria worked at Raritan Savings Bank in Raritan, NJ, until she moved to Florida with her family in 1986. She worked as the financial officer for Goodwill Industries of SW Florida for 15 years before accepting a similar position with the Guadalupe Center of Immokalee, an organization helping to break the cycle of poverty through education in this migrant community. She has served two terms as Treasurer on the ECHO Board.
"ECHO continually amazes me when I hear stories from all over the world about the wonderful impact ECHO has made on peoples’ lives. It makes my heart proud to be a small part of such a fine agency."
Founding Board Member
ECHO was founded through the vision of Dick Dugger, who established its initial Board of Directors and its original mission. He has remained an active supporter of ECHO. Part of the story of ECHO follows:
Dick Dugger married his wife Jo during their final year of college at Iowa State University. In 1963, after gaining experience at several companies, Dick and a partner started Ristance Corp. , a business which manufactures electrical wire harness assemblies, plastic compounding and wire drawing. Dick and Jo joined a missions work team serving the youth of their church in 1973. On a trip to Haiti, their hearts were opened to the needs of local people. A Haitian minister took them to a mountain site where he wished to build a church. He expressed, “Here I can preach in the morning and the message would be echoed all day.” So, a new mission was born, and its name became ‘Educational Concerns for Haiti Organization’ (ECHO).
The next door opened as the United Methodist District of Fort Myers offered use of a five-acre piece of property in North Fort Myers with a property lease of one dollar a year. The beginning purpose was for the training of Haitians in hydroponic sea water gardening and referred to as Seaponics. Following, additional doors opened, and Dick and the new ECHO Board were led through a series of events to meet Martin and Bonnie Price. Through their passion, dedication and talents, the Lord has guided this organization to the level of excellence we recognize today as ‘Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization.’
"It is especially gratifying and a blessing to look back on the History of ECHO and see how God has brought together and used the many talents of those who contribute with giving hearts. Board directors, interns, employees, volunteers and donors, all have blended their talents and financial gifts into a cohesive union that touches lives around the World. GOD IS SO GOOD."
Dr. Jimiro Feliciano
Dr. Jimiro Feliciano serves as the Senior Pastor of the Rosa De Saron Church, a large Assembly of God church in Fort Myers, FL and he serves as the Executive Treasurer of the Southeastern Hispanic District of the Assembly of God. He has earned a Doctorate in Theology and Pastoral Ministry from Latin University of Theology. He is active in community Faith-based programs. He is also known internationally as an inspiring speaker. He has a local/international television program broadcast by the Christian Television Network. Pastor Feliciano brings to ECHO an international perspective, extensive experience in ecclesiastic team management and cultural diversity.
"It's a great joy to serve as one of the Board members and witness God's blessing through ECHO."
Rod Frank, D.V.D., Ph.D.
Rod Frank is an Associate Research Fellow with Pfizer Animal Health in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Rod has a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Illinois and a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in veterinary pathology. Rod has served on the Board of Advisors for Christian Veterinary Mission and served with that organization in Haiti for 2.5 years. He also been involved with Bible Study Fellowship for many years as a Teaching Leader and Discussion Leader. Rod has worked in private veterinary practice and has held faculty positions at Kansas State University and the University of Minnesota. Rod is an active member of Calvary Bible Church and lives with his wife, Nancy, and son Isaac in Kalamazoo. They have 3 grown children.
“I am excited about serving!"
Joseph Freeland was born and raised in Crowley, Louisiana. He received his B.S. and M.S degrees from LSU in Agricultural Mechanization and Agricultural Economics, respectively. For five years Joe was the International Farm Manager for the McIlhenny Company (Tabasco) with responsibilities in South and Central America, as well as in Louisiana. He also led a consulting team to the People's Republic of the Congo. In 1978 he established FreeIand Real Estate Services which included rural brokerage, appraisal and land management. Joe was invited by Dick Dugger to join the ECHO Board in the early 80's shortly after Martin and Bonnie Price moved into the A-frame building on the ECHO farm. He served two terms on the Board, and was blessed to be Chairman for two years.
"The early years at ECHO were very interesting and spiritually uplifting. I was surrounded by a small group of devout Christians who were trying to make a meaningful difference in relieving Third-World hunger. Martin and Dick led discussions on priorities and future directions with all board members taking an active roll in the discussions. Prayer was offered on a regular basis. Occasionally, we prayed over the $40,000 budget, and where Martin's next pay check might be funded. At times, Martin generously offered to defer payment until funds were available, The Lord has blessed ECHO, as well as, Martin and Bonnie for their faithfulness by providing guidance and financial resources to expand ECHO's ministry. When I returned to ECHO for the 25th anniversary after being away for at least 10 years, I was amazed to see a 50-acre campus with multiple structures, training facilities and a huge increase in services and training opportunities. God is good! He has blessed ECHO was excellent leadership, and exceptional staff, great volunteers, and dedicated Board members. I wish to thank the ECHO family for the opportunity to have served on the Board of Directors of this exceptional organization."
Theodore J. "Jim" Goering, Ph.D.
Dr. Goering brings some 37 years of international agricultural development experience to ECHO, following his professional work at the University of California, Berkeley, the US Peace Corps, the US Government/DC, Harvard University, the World Bank and World Vision. Jim holds a PhD in Agricultural Economics. He and his wife, Shirley, lived and worked abroad for 17 years, included residencies in Colombia, Guatemala, Ethiopia, Malaysia and China.
“I have great personal and professional satisfaction in serving on the ECHO Board because of its mission of helping the world’s disadvantaged by increasing their food production through good science."
J. Kirk Gulledge, EdD
Past Chair of ECHO Board
Kirk Gulledge has masters degrees from the University of North Texas and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Doctorate in gerontology from Arizona State University. During his professional career, he worked as a retirement community consultant and assisted in the development of approximately 30 major continuing care retirement communities around the country. He and his wife Jan live in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where they are active in the Cathedral Church of St. John. He and Jan are deeply committed to sharing God's love through direct ministries in developing countries which improve the lives of the poor, and they have made numerous mission trips to Asia, Africa and Central America where they have helped to acquaint mission field staff with ECHO resources.
"I am deeply impressed with the ECHO ministry and how God is using ECHO's training, seeds, and agricultural consulting to impact the lives of so many people around the world ."
Floyd was born on a farm in Indiana and spent his eight grades of grade school in a one-room red brick school house. Through his early years and young adulthood, he tried many jobs and developed several businesses, including bulldozer work, mechanical repair, laundry and dry cleaning operation, refrigeration repair, real estate development, and rental apartments.
He first retired at the age of 40 to help a Pit Crew for a national Top Fuel Dragster which took him all over the USA and Canada. During this time his spiritual life had been neglected, and with four children, he needed to spend more time at home. During this time he become an instrument rated, multi-engine, commercial pilot and also purchased his first plane, an A36 Beachcraft Bonanza, which he used to fly the dragster crew around the US and Canada to the many national drag racing events.
Floyd’s wife Esther had become involved with Stonecroft ministries, Christian woman's clubs of America. As he flew her around the country and attended some of the meetings he became more involved in spiritual events, and later served on a board for Stonecroft ministries.
Later, he became interested in the Tool & Die business, bought a small operation and grew it to a 65-man operation, and expanded it to include a 20-man office in India. After several years of developing plastic extrusion dies and complex crossheads for the plastic extrusion industry he started a plastic extrusion Company called Omega Plastics.
It was during this time that Floyd became acquainted with Dick Dugger, the owner of Ristance Products a company that was making some innovative automotive products. Floyd went with him to the Dominican Republic several times and during one trip Dick told Floyd about ECHO, a small research farm that he had started in Florida. After visiting ECHO, Floyd was asked to serve on the Board as a trustee. Floyd still remembers the modest A-frame building which served as seed bank, conference center and campus for ECHO.
"From those early days until now, God has surely blessed ECHO as they have reach into many countries and touched the lives of thousands."
Bill Hutchison, Ph.D.
Bill Hutchison is a Professor and Extension Entomologist with the Dept. of Entomology, University of Minnesota. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1984), M.S. from Mississippi State University, and B.S. from the University of Arizona. Since coming to Minnesota, he developed a regional Vegetable Research and Outreach program for Integrated Pest Management (IPM) methods that rely on less insecticide use, and minimize economic risk to growers. He created the VegEdge web site to rapidly deliver IPM information to crop consultants. Bill recently served as President of the Plant-Insect Ecosystems Section of the Entomological Soc. of America, and serves as an Editor for the journal, Crop Protection. He has visited with scientists in Kenya, South Africa and Columbia, about priorities for IPM research on maize and vegetable crops, and is part of the Harvest Choice program at the UofM. With two children transitioning to college life, Bill and his wife Margo are anticipating opportunities for more international work.
“Ever since my agricultural missions experience in Honduras (1980), I have had a strong desire to deliver long-term solutions to hunger and poverty in developing countries. With ECHO, I see unique ways to meet the challenge. We spent part of our 25th wedding anniversary touring the ECHO Farm in 2009—well worth it! I am excited about serving on the board, and learning more about the connections ECHO has established with community development professionals worldwide.”
Dr. Patricia R. Johnson
Dr. Patricia R. Johnson has developed a rich tapestry of skills and experiences that she seeks to use to inspire personal, professional and spiritual growth in the lives of others. She is an associate professor of organizational leadership at Indiana Wesleyan University, with an interest on the intersection of leadership, faith, authenticity and personal and organizational transformation.
Dr. Johnson’s academic background includes a PhD in Organizational Leadership, a law degree and a bachelor’s degree in English and in Theology. Prior to her entrance into academia, she served in a variety of arenas including in the legislative and executive branches of government. She worked on domestic and international hunger and poverty issues as a professional staff person on the U.S. Select Committee on Hunger, and on rule of law issues at the US Agency for International Development (USAID), respectively. Dr. Johnson has worked in the non-profit arena, and also in international organizations. In May of 2013, she completed a ten month term as a US Fulbright Scholar in Uganda, East Africa, where she taught university courses in organizational leadership, conducted seminars for faculty and NGO staff, and engaged in research on issues related to faith and decision-making.
For nine years, Dr. Johnson assisted in providing leadership to the Washington, DC campus of Nyack College, where she directed the graduate program in organizational leadership and was an assistant professor. One of the highlights of her time at Nyack was her development of several national level symposia which addressed the role of the faith-based community on critical societal issues such as poverty alleviation and immigration reform.
She is an author, speaker and minister. She has served for several years as part of the pastoral ministry of her non-denominational church, located in Maryland. Dr. Johnson is a native Washingtonian, and the mother of two wonderful young adults.
James D. Jones
Jim Jones was deeply involved in developing the vision and the incorporation of ECHO in 1973. As a youth pastor in South Bend Grace United Methodist Church, he met Dick Dugger, and found that they shared an interest in Haiti. Together, they took several youth groups on mission trips to Haiti, and as a result of those trips, they felt that a separate organization was needed to focus its work on Haiti. Jim provided leadership in organizational development, creating the legal framework for the ECHO corporation which was incorporated in Indiana, securing the sponsorship of the United Methodist Church, and a location for ECHO in North Fort Myers, Florida, which was provided to ECHO for $1 lease per year. From 1975-1979, Jim served as the Executive Director of the Board.
He has been a lifelong pastor within the Methodist Church, serving congregations and in district offices throughout Indiana. He has also had responsibilities for youth ministry, mission involvement in several states, Haiti and Africa, as well as the Conference Board of Global Ministries. He has served on a number of boards and foundations, including Parkview Memorial Hospital, University of Indiana, Franklin Home, Wesley Manor, Asbury Towers, Indiana Children’s Home, Clarian Healthcare System, and Indiana Area Foundation. He has also taught in a number of schools and seminaries. In addition to several undergraduate and graduate degrees, Jim was awarded Honorary Doctorate by the University of Indiana in 1997, and was awarded the Sagamore of the Wabash, Indiana’s highest recognition) in 2004. He married his wife Judith Ann in 1961, has two children and three grandchildren.
“It was my privilege to assist Dick Dugger in the founding of ECHO. I served as the first Executive Director of the board from 1975-1979. I am sure the vision had been in Dick Dugger's mind and heart for some time, but the dream was born in terms of my involvement with Dick at Grace United Methodist Church in South Bend, Indiana. From a shared vision we put flesh and blood into our dream and today the world has been touched in a significant way. Thanks be to God for all that has been and will be.”
David Kearns, M.D., J.D.
David Kearns is a retired pathologist with subspecialty certification in dermatopathology (skin biopsies). David has served as President of the Georgia Association of Pathologists and is on the board of the George Faile Foundation which supports the Baptist Medical Centre of Nalerigu, Ghana. He is also a principal supporter of the Bombay Leprosy Project of Bombay (Mumbai), India where he lived for two years as a child. David, his wife Jennifer and son Patrick live in the country outside Rome, Georgia. Together they are hay farmers and run a small cow-calf operation. David attends First Baptist Church of Rome, Georgia where he is a substitute Sunday School teacher.
"I believe that the only sustainable way to help the poor is to help them help themselves. ECHO shares that approach in its unique ministry to those working to improve the food supply for the poor."
Donald L. Lantz
Dr. Donald Lantz has had a life-long interest in missions. He and his wife, Marilyn, raised his children to be concerned about the world and to have an interest in people from other cultures. He and Marilyn welcomed many missionaries and international students to their home. Don received his bachelor's degree in zoology from Wheaton College, and a doctorate in educational psychology from the University of Minnesota. He was a professor of Educational Psychology and Childhood Development at the University of South Florida from 1961-1995. Don also reached the rank of a colonel serving as a chaplain in the United States Armed Reserves. He spent a sabbatical year in Kenya (1974-1975) working with the National Christian Council of Kenya (NCCK). His hobbies have always included plants, experimenting with tree seeds and a hobby farm of goats. He even has a baobab at his home in Florida that he nurses through the winter.
“I felt privileged to serve on the board of ECHO, which combined my long-term interest in mission and hunger issues with my interest in plants.”
Chris is an attorney and presently the Deputy Director of Florida Rural Legal Services, Inc., a non-profit organization that serves the civil legal needs of indigent families in thirteen counties. She is a member of Buckingham Presbyterian Church, where she serves as the Clerk to their governing body, as well as on several committees. Chris has served on a number of local non-profit boards and organizations, including Educational Concerns for Hunger, Inc. (ECHO), in North Fort Myers, Partnership in Housing in Bonita Springs, and the Community Cooperative Ministries, of Fort Myers. While on the Board of ECHO, Chris served as the Secretary to the Board and enjoyed entertaining the ECHO interns for dinner at her home. She and her husband Matt Smith are the parents of three children, all graduates of Fort Myers High School: Ben, Tim, and Hannah.
“I am thankful for the work that God has done through ECHO, and grateful for the opportunity to have served for several years on the ECHO Board.”
M. Hershey Leaman
Hershey Leaman represented the Mennonite Central Committee on the ECHO Board from the late 1980s until 1997. At the time he was functioning as the Director of MCC’s Food and Disaster Response of its International Programs. Prior to that he served more than nineteen years with Eastern Mennonite Missions and Mennonite Central Committee in the countries of Tanzania, Somalia, and Kenya. His area of administrative responsibility also included Ethiopia, Uganda, & Sudan. While his work with local church groups covered the general field of “development,” his primary focus was in the area of food security and food production. This experience fit well with ECHOs mission and service and gave Hersh the opportunity to bring some valuable insights to the ECHO from the mission field and from those who could best benefit from the programs being developed by ECHO.
“ My eight to ten years of involvement with ECHO were memorable for a number of reasons: ECHO’s clear mission to people and people’s food needs; its Christ-centered commitment to its mission; the creative and visionary leadership by Martin & Bonnie Price; and ECHO’s collaborative relationship with reputable agencies & persons.”
Wayne Maley is an agricultural engineer who has worked with design of farm buildings and livestock systems, including farm development with an REA financed electric company in southern Illinois and work with the American Zinc Institute trade association from a field office in Lafayette, Indiana, to advance the use of zinc coated steel (galvanized) for farm structures. Later working with U.S. Steel, he developed markets for farm fencing and galvanized steel from a field office in Des Moines, Iowa, and then from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, development of machines for harvest and handling of fruits and vegetables across America. In 1981 he became Director of Member Services and Public Relations for the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers located at their world headquarters in St Joseph, Michigan. After retiring in 1992, he has worked with several international small farm assistance projects, with waste reduction programs and encouraged biosystems development. During the 1980s, Wayne served on the Board of ECHO—serving several terms as President—during a time of critical development for ECHO. During his service on the Board, he encouraged ECHO to move from seaponics (using solutions of sea solids for agriculture) to hydroponics and demonstrating farming/gardening techniques; to include interns as a regular part of the ECHO program and budget; and to experiment in and demonstrate appropriate technology. Wayne interviewed and recommending Martin Price as Director, encouraged the change in ECHO’s name from “Health” to “Hunger,” handled the paperwork to transfer the ECHO corporation from Indiana to Florida, recommended “networking” as the unique way of describing how ECHO served missionaries, helped refine the policies for missionary housing, developed the program for conducting public tours, led the initiative to purchase the initial five acre campus from the Methodist church, and held the first international Board meeting in Port Au Prince, Haiti. His service to ECHO and his contributions to the Board of Directors will be long remembered.
“I became involved with ECHO as the best way to help hungry people. I am committed to providing tools for people to help themselves improve their food supply. Through ECHO God has opened many doors for service and opportunities to share his love with others.”
Having retired from a career in insurance brokerage, Jim has a second calling to missions where he came across ECHO. He serves on the Board of New Harvest Mission International, an African led church planting ministry in West Africa. He also serves on the Board of Remember Nhu, a ministry dedicated to preventing young people from the horrors of human trafficking. He is also the Mission Team Leader for Crossgate Church.
"ECHO embodies the values I search for in mission organizations in that they seek after excellence, are cost effective and reflect the heart of Jesus in serving the poor and afflicted".
Wilbert Merzilus is the founder and Executive Director of Living Hope Mission in Haiti, which provides support and assistance to local churches and church leaders, including agriculture, medical services, education and water projects. He is a native of Haiti, and he has attended Eastern University and Temple University. Wilbert has previously worked with Mission Aviation Fellowship and has assisted projects in conjunction with Mennonite Central Committee and Heifer Project. His wife Meg, is from Ohio, and they work together in ministry with Haitian people. They have two children: Katie and Christian.
DeForest "Woody" Metcalf, M.D.
Woody Metcalf is a retired physician from Youngstown, Ohio. After finishing Medical school, Woody served in the Army Medical Corps before going into private practice. He practiced medicine for 40 years before retiring and moving to Fort Myers, FL.. During his career, he was the Chairman of the Anesthesiology Department of a 1,000-bed hospital for 25 years and President of the Ohio Society of Anesthesiology for two years. Woody has been active in church related activities on both the local and national levels and has served on various university, church and foundation boards. Serving as a regular volunteer at ECHO, Woody has encouraged and recruited many other colleagues and friends from Shell Point Village in Fort Myers to become regular volunteers.
"It is overwhelming to realize we are helping feed the hungry in some 190 countries. What a blessing to be part of ECHO!"
Gerald R. Miller, Ph.D.
Gerald Miller is Professor Emeritus and Retired Associate Dean of the College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Sciences at the University of Minnesota. He earned a B.S. Degree in Agricultural Education and an M.S. Degree in Agronomy from the University of Illinois. His Ph.D. was earned in Crop Science at Michigan State University. At the University of Minnesota and Purdue University, Dr. Miller served as Extension Agronomist for twenty years. He was the Associate Dean for Extension Education Programs in Agriculture for eighteen years. His responsibilities included administering an international student work-study program that annually involved about three hundred students from sixty countries. For the last fifteen years, Dr. Miller has worked with Shepherd’s Foundation and his church on agricultural mission projects in Ukraine. He currently is collaborating with Heifer Project International on an agricultural development project with an orphanage in Ukraine. For three years he led Sowing Hope, Inc. in developing an agricultural training center with a mission in Oaxaca, Mexico. He is an active member of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN.
"ECHO provides a wonderful privilege to be actively involved with dedicated Christians in demonstrating our love for God and love for our neighbors, especially those who are hungry and poor. ECHO is creating opportunities for many people by providing appropriate science and technology to improve their nutrition and health."
Grace Ju Miller
Grace Ju Miller is a professor of Biology at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, IN. She was the Director of the ECHO Seed Bank from 2002-2006. She was on the faculty of Gordon College from 1991-2001. From 2006-2008 she and her husband and two children lived in Morocco. She has been teaching a college course called Sustainable Tropical Agriculture since 2002, this class spends 9 days at ECHO and 10 days in either, Haiti, Honduras or Nicaragua. She has taught Tropical Marine Biology courses in Belize, Kenya, Venezuela and Malaysia. She was a past Board member for HAFF ( Haitian American Friendship Foundation). She was born and raised in the Philippines and speaks Mandarin.
Jeff Morgan served several terms on the ECHO Board beginning in the mid-1990s. He owned a truss-building company in Georgia at the time, and he used his resources and talents to build a covered Pavilion for ECHO to help expand its ministries. Jeff was deeply interested in the type of resources and technologies that ECHO offered to farmers in developing countries, and during his term on the ECHO Board, he felt called to begin a personal mission outreach to the country of Peru. In 2000, Jeff and his wife Carol launched "Change A Life, Inc" and moved to Peru to start a demonstration farm for local farmers. Subsequently, the ministry has expanded to include medical outreach, soy milk production, earthquake assistance, and a variety of other needed programs to help families living in extreme poverty achieve a more self-reliant lifestyle.
"We are living and working full-time with Change-A-Life in Lima, Peru, teaching drip irrigation, rabbit-raising, worm beds, moringa farming, appropriate technology, health, and nutrition. Just think, all this started with ECHO!"
John Mulder has exhibited his commitment to ECHO through donations of his time and financial resources. John has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Davenport University and over 30 years of experience in the technical/research sector of the automotive industry. John retired from GENTEX Corporation in 2002 where he had worked 15 years as Vice-President of Marketing. He has served on the GENTEX Board of Directors since 1991 . He has also served on the Board of Trustees for Davenport University, the Regional Board of Southeast Michigan for Boy Scouts of America and is an active member of the Reformed Church of America.
"I am extremely proud to be part of ECHO. I find ECHO’s purpose to be unique to other charitable organizations. It is an organization of wonderful, committed people dedicated to making a difference in the world."
Claude Nankam, Ph.D.
Dr. Claude Nankam, as a native of Cameroon and an international consultant for several organizations, brought an important international perspective to the ECHO board during the time he served in the early 2000s. He began his career in 1981 as plant pathologist in the USAID funded National Cereal Research and Extension project of the Agronomic Research and Development Institute of Cameroon (IRAD). From 1981-1995, he identified and studied diseases of maize, sorghum and millet in Cameroon, and worked with breeders, to select/develop varieties resistant to major diseases. From 1988 to 1991, he also had the responsibility of testing and recommending to the Ministry of Agriculture, fungicides that were effective in controlling coffee berry disease on Arabica coffee. From1995-1999, Dr. Nankam managed the World Vision agriculture program in Angola. In 1999 he accepted the position of Agriculture and Food Security Team Leader for World Vision, Inc. in Washington DC, USA. Dr. Nankam later held the position of Director of the Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture Division at Counterpart International form 2004-2005, before becoming independent consultant in Food and livelihood Security. In 2007 he incorporated his consulting business in Virginia (JBARCK Consulting, Inc.) and he is the Chairman of a consulting firm he co-founded in Cameroon (www.sigmaed.org) that deals with social infrastructure, food & livelihood security, environment and safeguard policies, and professional training and capacity building. His academic background includes an Ingenieur Agronome Degree from the University of Dschang, Cameroon (1981), an MS in Plant Pathology from Iowa State University (1986), and a PhD in Plant Pathology/Breeding from the University of Illinois (1995).
“Researching and bringing appropriate solutions to main production constraints of the small farmer in developing countries is what makes ECHO’s ministry unique in the development arena. By serving on the Board of Directors of ECHO from 2003-2006, I was blessed to be part of that noble goal.”
Edgar G. Nesman, Ph.D.
Edgar Nesman served several terms on the ECHO Board in the 1990s, and during that time, he was the Board Secretary. During the ECHO Agricultural Mission Conferences, he often assisted in Spanish translation, and he has often represented ECHO in presentations in the Tampa area. Edgar has served as an agricultural missionary at the Methodist Agricultural and Industrial School in Cuba and the Methodist Rural Center in Costa Rica. He was a member of the National Board of Global Ministries of the Methodist Church. He has served on a number of boards in the Tampa District and Florida Annual Conference and he is currently serving on the Cuba/Florida Covenant task force for the District of Tampa and for the Florida Conference. Edgar is Professor Emeritus of Sociology, retired from teaching at the University of South Florida in Tampa where he was was Coordinator of the Latin American Certificate Program and Director of the Center for Community Analysis of the Human Resource Institute, which was responsible for projects in Guatemala, Paraguay, Honduras and Costa Rica. More recently he has worked on projects in Egypt, in Uruguay, and in Peru in the design of monitoring and evaluation systems. He has published three books and other articles related to leadership training, program evaluation and community development, and he has participated in many workshops in the United States and overseas. He has been inducted into numerous professional and honorary societies and he remains active in training, consulting and volunteer activities.
“I believe that the best evaluation of an organization is to see the impact at the grass roots level. While working at the University, I often traveled in Latin America as part of technical assistance teams working with rural development projects. On one occasion I attended a farmer’s field-day visit with a local extension agent. As we walked the farm, the farmer was particularly proud to show us and tell us about his Moringa plantings, which he had learned about from ECHO Development Notes. I found out that the ECHO circle of influence went way beyond anything that I had imagined.”
Russell Powell served on ECHO's board from 2000 to 2006. He graduated from Western Michigan University. During World War II, Russ was stationed in Calcutta as the Division Ordnance Officer for the Air Transport Command. It was his job to see that the vehicles at bases in China, Burma, and India were on the road and running. His outfit sent supplies to China by flying over the "hump." For 37 years, Russ and his wife Eunice—who was a first-grade schoolteacher—owned the largest sporting goods store in southwest Michigan. For about 12 years he taught marketing and retail sales classes in the School of Business at WMU. In 2002, Russell provided a generous financial contribution in memory of his wife Eunice to enable construction of a large Farm Resource Building which facilitates many critical functions of the ECHO Farm in North Fort Myers. Several years later he provided major support for the construction of several houses for interns and visiting missionaries at ECHO. These buildings also were dedicated in memory of Eunice. Russ and his wife Mary volunteered for ECHO during the winter months, and during the summer months they volunteered at a camp for underprivileged children located at their lake in Michigan. Russ passed away February, 2011 in Mattawan, MI.
“It was a privilege to serve on ECHO’s Board and to be a small part of the organization.”
M. Thomas Ridington
As an ECHO Board member for six years in the late 1980s and 1990s,Tom Ridington brought some important capabilities to the ECHO board from his background in fund-raising and strategic planning. He is currently the Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Eastern University. He has served Eastern University in many capacities including Vice President of Development, Director of Foundations & Corporations, Acting Dean of Admissions and Interim Dean of the International School of Leadership and Development. Mr. Ridington has completed Doctoral coursework towards a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Administration from the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa. He has assisted in the advancement and development of several Christian organizations, including World Vision, Christian Community Development Association, Wycliffe Bible Translators, and Beyond Borders. He left an important legacy with the ECHO Board with his recommendation and example that "Board members recruit a replacement for themselves" when they complete their term on the Board.
"ECHO is a ministry devoted to serving 'the least of these' with missional integrity and financial responsibility. The humble spirit of Martin Price lives on in a corps of committed volunteers who selflessly serve the faceless poor by providing seeds and disseminating understanding that often prove to be the missing elements leading to fruitful and productive lives."
Benny is the President/Owner of Circle of Business LLC & Panamerican Flooring Services, Inc. He resides in Orlando, Florida.
Brenda Tate is a community volunteer in SW Florida serving as a Student Advocate and Fund Raiser for the Take Stock in Children Scholorship Program: Founding Member and Chair of the SW Florida Community Foundation's Women's Legacy Fund; Board Member of Global Partners for Development (East Africa); Member of ECHO's Community Garden Advisory Committee; Gulfshore Life 2009 Philanthropist of the Year - Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser. Previously she served as Georgia Department of Transportation's Enhancement Activity (TEA) Advisory Panel Chair and Founding Member. She was the Trust for Public Land's Coordinator for the Ocmulgee Heritage Greenway in Macon, GA and other community based land conservation initiatives in Georgia.
“I'm honored to support ECHO's mission of providing resources and skills to reduce hunger and improve the lives of the poor. With our time, talent, treasure or touch, we can make great strides to reduce hunger and enhance nutrition. Witnessing ECHO's impact around the world convinces me of the power of a hand up to sustain lasting change.”
Tom Thorburn, Ph.D.
Tom Thorburn is retired and has served in the private, public and non-profit sectors. He has taught high school, managed a corporate farm, served for eighteen years with Michigan State University and the University of Minnesota in Extension program and administrative roles. Most recently, he served with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and The Ford Family Foundation in their grant programs focused both domestically and internationally. Tom has served as a volunteer on numerous boards including: Philanthropy Northwest and Michigan Partners, has taught Sunday school, has been a 4-H leader and served on volunteer missions.
“It is a blessing to be a part of ECHO solving hunger and nutritional issues by making practical sustainable food production information available to those working with the less fortunate in many other countries.”
Harold is a native of Grand Rapids, Michigan. After graduating from high school, he enlisted in the Army Air Force where he successfully completed flight training and served as a single engine fighter pilot. After the war, he attended Purdue University where he received a degree in Horticulture and did advanced work in Agricultural Economics. After a short period of self employment in landscape design and construction, he moved to Terre Haute where he eventually became owner of a successful landscape construction and garden center business. After over 50 years in the landscape industry, he retired and moved to Bradenton, FL, where he and his wife Rosemary had wintered for several years.
He and Rosemary have 4 children, 11 grandchildren and 6 (and still counting) great grandchildren. In addition to his 6 years on the ECHO board, he organized several volunteer work groups to ECHO from the Bradenton Christian Reformed Church where he is a member. He has been active in the CRC in Lafayette, IN, Terre Haute, IN, and Bradenton as deacon, elder, Sunday school teacher and administrator. While in Terre Haute, he helped organize and direct a Youth for Christ program. Perhaps his greatest contribution to the ECHO program was to instruct the staff of a far more efficient system of installing plastic covering over the greenhouses than had been previously used.
"While I have been deeply impressed with the volume and quality of ECHO's ministry to the hungry in our world, I think the greatest impression, for mw, has been the efficiency of this organization. No money was ever spent that did not wring out the maximum value in service. And Martin's vast knowledge and administrative genius were humbly committed to the goals and purposes of doing God's work of caring for the needy."
Ron earned his bachelor’s degree from Bethel University in psychology and social studies education. He and his wife joined the Peace Corps and served in India beginning in 1966. He then did additional graduate work at the University of St. Thomas and was awarded an honorary doctorate from the College of Charleston. Along with his successful career in the investment industry, Ron joined ECHO’s Board of Directors in 2010 and served as ECHO’s Board Chairman in 2012-2014.
As a former Peace Corps Volunteer and Director of the Peace Corps, Ron understands the reality of food insecurity in the world today. His recognition of these needs, coupled with his deep faith, have fueled Ron’s passion to advance ECHO’s impact, reducing hunger and improving lives worldwide.
Barb Van Schoyck
Barb is a former employee of ECHO who helped its growth through her responsibilities in development and fund raising. Later she served on the ECHO board for several years, including a term as President. In 1994, she and her husband Greg accepted a call to serve as missionaries with the Haitian American Friendship Foundation, a mission in the Central Plateau of Haiti. She are her husband are now co-directors of the mission. She is responsible for non-formal education and also teaches English in the Bohoc Training Institute, in addition to various mercy ministries. Barb and Greg's two children, Gabi and Zach, have grown up in Haiti and are now preparing for the future.
"I have always felt so blessed to have been associated in some small way with ECHO. God's hand has always been on this wonderful ministry and it has been wonderful to see how He has blessed, grown, and used ECHO to be a blessing around the world. May His hand always be on ECHO, the staff, and those they serve around the world, to the glory of God."
Melvin E. West
Mel West grew up on a dairy farm in Missouri, received a BS degree in Animal Husbandry from the University of Missouri, and taught agriculture courses. Later, he received theology degrees from Southern Methodist University and pastored churches in Missouri and Texas. For 20 years he directed the Office of Creative Ministries in the Missouri area, developing and directing projects such as the Missouri Heifer Project, the Prison PATCH program, The Festival of Sharing, the Singing Missioners, several homes for abused women and children, and a variety of others, including starting three new church congregations. Before and after his retirement in 1985 he served on a number of mission boards, including ECHO, Heifer Project, Habitat for Humanity, SIFAT, the National Board of Global Ministries, Alfalit and Rainbow project. In 1995 he started the PET (Personal Energy Transportation) project which builds and distributes low-cost hand-powered vehicles to individuals worldwide who cannot use their legs. (His picture shows him in a PET vehicle.) Because of his interest in such projects, Mel was very influential at ECHO in helping to create a department of Appropriate Technology which is now assisting many people and groups in developing countries. Mel and his wife Barbara have two children and two grandchildren.
"I grew up intellectually and spiritually with leaders such as Martin Price, who helped me to understand issues of hunger and world poverty as we sat at Board tables tackling these issues. I shall go to my grave thanking my God for the opportunity to share life with those who have used their talents to make such a large difference in the world."
"ECHO has a family heart and reaches out to help people with a combination of science and technology. Volunteering and serving on the Board is a satisfying learning experience, and I have great respect for ECHO Staff and those they serve."
Gerri Westlund, M.A.
Gerri Westlund served on the ECHO board from 2001-2008, and for five years she served as Board Secretary. She has a Bachelors of Arts in Elementary Education from Macalester College and a Masters in Special Education from St. Thomas University, both in St. Paul, Minnesota. She was a teacher and church choir director for 24 years, and was a member and soloist with the Valley Chamber Chorale of St. Paul, Minnesota. She has served as the Program Director for the annual Minnesota U.N. Rally and as Program Planner for the International Relations Program of the St. Paul Branch of the American Association of University Women. Gerri currently serves on the Mission and Justice Committee of the Peace River Presbytery, sings with the Southwest Florida Symphony Chorus of Fort Myers, Florida, and the Faith Presbyterian Church Choir of Cape Coral, Florida. She also volunteers at ECHO.
"ECHO's mission to help people by providing sustainable agricultural training, resources, seeds and information is truly worthy of support."
Calvin Yoke served on the ECHO Board in the early 2000s. He brought some outstanding management skills and perspectives from several high leadership positions, and while on the Board, he made presentations to the international ECHO agricultural conference on leadership and management topics, including a video “Management Can Be Learned,” which has been requested by organizational leaders around the world. He also helped provide Board leadership in the process of selecting a new ECHO CEO after Martin Price announced his intention to retire. Professionally, Calvin served for 16 years as the General Manager of Shelby County Farm Bureau Co-op, President Wood-Mizer products in Indianapolis for 7 years, and is currently President of Chem-Cast, Ltd. in Illinois.
“My strong interest in ECHO is in the fact that its mission is compounded many times over through other missions throughout the world, and the potential impact it can have on so many lives. Furthermore, its focus on world hunger seemed to be the absolute perfect starting point for bringing souls to Christ.”
David W. Unander, Ph.D.
Dave Unander received a Ph.D. in Plant Breeding from Univ. of Minnesota, worked in research for Univ. of Puerto Rico and Fox Chase Cancer Center (Philadelphia), and now teaches Biology at Eastern University. He has served on ECHO's Board 1987 to 1995 and 2006-2011, and also on other Christian mission boards. Dave is professor of record for “Tropical Agriculture and Missions,” taught at ECHO through the AuSable Institute.
"I've been involved with ECHO since I was a graduate student in Plant Breeding in the early 1980s and have watched it grow from a tiny beginning to an organization well-known for quality information, training and seeds among both agricultural scientists and Christian missionaries around the world. One of the greatest privileges of my life has been to serve on ECHO's Board, and, like most fellow Board members, when possible to volunteer on-site as well."