In the early 1970s, Dick Dugger caught the vision for an organization that would “echo” solutions to hunger and poverty throughout Haiti and around the world.
Eleven years later, Dr. Martin and Bonnie Price left a familiar and very comfortable life in Ohio in a quest to combine their training in science, the Great Commission, and the needs of the poor. Dr. Price never imagined that ECHO would grow from a fiveacre farm, to a 55+ acre campus with an extensive agricultural library, a Global Research and Demonstration Farm, Seed Bank, and housing for interns, visiting missionaries, and development workers.
Even more astounding has been the growth of ECHO’s network — missionaries, mission organizations, indigenous churches, agricultural and development workers — all who work with the rural poor around the world. From a few initial contacts in a handful of countries, ECHO now extends its helping hand into almost every country of the world.
The first Impact Center was launched in 2009 in Southeast Asia; East and West Africa followed shortly thereafter. These centers contextualize ECHO resources and offer hands-on training closer to those who need it most.
ECHO’s services expanded from answering occasional agricultural questions from overseas contacts and sharing a few hard-tofind seeds — now ECHO’s global teams provide hands-on trainings in more than 15 countries, seed banks on three continents offer hundreds of varieties of seeds to help families diversify their crops and improve their nutrition, a yearlong internship prepares college graduates for international service, and vital, practical research provides relevant solutions to the challenges farming families face.
In 2011, ECHO began strategically harnessing the power of technology as a force for good — sharing reliable knowledge about plants, practices, and appropriate technologies online. Now, through our online platform, ECHOcommunity.org, more than 19,000 missionaries, development workers and farmers working in over 190 countries access this online resource each month to find proven agricultural information and seek expert advice for the communities they serve.
While the dedicated staff and volunteers of ECHO have labored long and hard, ECHO as it exists today is a testimony to God’s direction as He led this work over the last 40 years.
In 2017, ECHO’s Board of Directors adopted a 5-year Strategic Plan, focusing ECHO’s global team on two main goals — direct training and global resourcing. Every year since then, both the number of people directly trained globally and the number of ECHOcommunity members has continued to increase.
Most inspiring has been the multiplication rates — the frequency with which both direct trainees and ECHOcommunity members utilize and share what they have gained from ECHO!
Based on external assessments, ECHO’s direct training work is benefiting well over 1 million men, women, and children each year; And, ECHO’s global resources are also reaching millions through development workers, missionaries, and the communities they serve each year.
This incredible impact humbles us. Yet, the truth is that there are so many more families still struggling to know the hope of a future.
Launching a new team to serve South Asia is a key strategic step for the future. The need is extraordinary — 38% of India’s children under 5 suffer form stunting due to malnourishment, and there’s opportunity to share the gospel among some of the most unreached people in the world!
This year, our Internship Program will become even more beneficial, as we add a Master’s level certificate to the hands-on preparation for global missions that has always been key to ECHO’s equipping work.
ECHO’s knowledge resources will reach more people worldwide through the newly released ECHOcommunity mobile app — soon available in nine additional languages.
The challenges of the recent pandemic have taught us to hold our convictions and our calling tightly and our plans loosely enough to adapt to meet the current needs of those we serve. We have seen even more clearly the faithfulness of God and the privilege of serving — these core realities will guide our “today” and “tomorrow.”