ECHO International Agricultural Conference 2014
Plenary Speakers

Biochar for Control of Trace Contaminants in Water presented by Josh Kearns
Josh is an environmental engineering PhD Candidate at the University of Colorado-Boulder. His research explores the applicability of locally produced biomass char (biochar) as a low-cost absorbent for drinking water treatment in developing communities.  In 2007, Josh founded a non-profit organization called Aqueous solutions, which is dedicated to research, development, and deployment of appropriate technologies in water and sanitation.


Custom Hay Baling as a Business for Former Street Children in the Kenyan Highlands presented by Sjoerd W. Dulker, PhD

Sjoerd is a Soil Management Specialist in the Crop Management Extension Group at Penn State University.  His work concentrates on sustainable intensification using conservation agriculture.  He has helped destitute youth in Kenya start a hay baling business using appropriate technologies and is interested in scaling this effort up.

Carbon Farming: Perennial Crops and Agroforestry for Carbon Sequestration & More presented by Eric Toensmeier

 Eric Toensmeier is the award-winning author of Paradise Lot and Perennial Vegetables, and the co-author of Edible forest Gardens.  He is an appointed lecturer at Yale University and an international trainer presenting in English and Spanish in the US, Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, and the Caribbean.   Currently he is writingCarbon Farming: a Global Toolkit for Stabilizing the Climate with Tree Crops and regenerative Agriculture Practices. He has studied permaculture and useful plants of the world for over two decades.

Intercultural Team Leadership:  Strategy for team formation, team directing; and overcoming conflict  presented by Sara Lanier

Sara Lanier, author of Foreign to Familiar: A Guide to Hot and Cold Climate Cultures, which has been published in eleven languages, grew up in the Middle East and has served in Europe for 20 years as a trainer and consultant with NGOs and other cross-cultural workers.  She is with University of the Nations.  Sarah will address opportunities, and challenges faced by international development workers in cross-cultural settings


The Sweet Spot: Bringing Together Sustainable Development, Animal Agriculture, and Ecological Restoration presented by Robert Pelant, DVM

Robert is a veterinarian with over 30 years of global sustainable development and animal agriculture experience.  He has lived/worked in Latin America, Asia, Europe, and Africa, and has established local nonprofits or trusts in a dozen countries. Robert is the founding CEO of the Pacific Rim Institute (PRI) based on Whidbey Island, WA.  PRI is gradually converting abandoned agricultural land into native prairie and forest, and also offers educational and community outreach programs.


Creation Care an Integral Part of Mission presented by David Gould

David is an architect and spent many years leading design teams working on healthcare projects. Since 2002 he as been a member of OMF International, the Singapore-based mission agency with a vision for indigenous biblical church movements among the peoples of East Asia.  David is OMF's Creation Care Advocate; he is tasked with exploring the growing ecological challenges, their impacts on the peoples of East Asia, and appropriate responses that are in line with OMF's vision. 
David's background as an architect helps him to see the inter-relatedness of different aspects of mission, and possibilities for new connections and partnerships between organizations that share a heart for furthering the Kingdom of God.


Simplified Low Pressure Drip Irrigation to Raise Small Farm Incomes presented by Brent Rowell, PhD

Brent is an extension professor of International Horticulture at the University of Kentucky.  He has worked for 33 years in small farm extension and research, 15 of which were in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Thailand, and Myanmar. He most recently worked as Agriculture Program Director with the NGO  Proximity Designs in Myanmar from 2006-2012 to develop low cost and easy-to-manufacture drip irrigation systems.


Becoming a Crop Champion presented by Penny Rambacher, R.D.

Penny discovered her passion for helping the poor while flying to Latin America as an American Airlines flight attendant. IN the nine years since she founded Miracles in Action, a non-profit, Naples, FL based charity, Penny has coordinated the construction of 46 rural schools, 20 village water systems 1000 water purifiers, over 2100 safe, fuel efficient stoves, and establishing community/school gardens to include nutrition/agriculture education workshops.


Potential of Seed Exchange presented by Laura Meitzner Yoder

Laura is Director of the Human Needs and Global Resources (HNGR) program and Associate Professor of Environmental Studies at Wheaton College.  Since 1998, she has worked with local state universities and experiential environmental programs in Indonesia, Timor-Leste, Thailand, Bhutan, and the USA.  She is co-author of ECHO's Amaranth to Zai Holes book.