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Dordt College News

Dordt Ag students attend ECHO conference

November 30, 2005

Eight Dordt College Agriculture Majors recently attended the 12th annual ECHO (Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization) Agricultural Missions Conference at Fort Meyers, Florida. Accompanying them were Dr. Ron Vos and Dr. Wayne Kobes, professors of agriculture and theology at Dordt College. Students

Participating in the international conference were Jennifer Anema, Alton, IA; Leah Fedders, Ireton, IA; Dea Lieu, Madisonville, TN; Raymond Mutava, Kajiado, Kenya; Hannah Nuiver, Dyer, IN; Jami Smith, Carnation, WA; Nancy Vander Schaaf, Alton, IA; and Jill Vanderwal, Abbotsford, BC, Canada.

The annual ECHO conference provides an information network where agricultural solutions for feeding families in developing countries are shared among those working internationally with the poor.

“The conference was great for seeing what needs are out in the world,” said Jami Smith, a junior agriculture major at Dordt. “It gave me contact with several people who already work overseas and they gave me ideas on what my classes in college should be and how to get started in agricultural missions.”

Jennifer Anema, a senior ag major from Alton, said she most appreciated being able to talk to people who were working all over the world. “It was so amazing to hear about the different projects that these people were working on and how important it is for agriculture mission work in all of these countries,” commented Anema. “In regard to careers, this conference helped me to explore other opportunities that there are for me to use my agriculture degree. It also helped me to gain a different perspective on what I am working towards here at Dordt and why I am doing it.” Though at this point she doesn’t anticipate doing foreign mission work, Anema said it is important to be aware of the work that is going on and support it, even if it is simply through prayer.

Speakers at the conference covered a broad range of subjects, from animal health to growing new crops. “The morning sessions I found very interesting because most of the topics were on things I had never even thought of, like apple orchards in Kazakhstan, or growing amaranth,” said Jill Vanderwal, a sophomore agriculture major from Canada. She especially appreciated the ECHO Farm because “coming from Canada, it’s not everyday I get to see a palm tree.” Ag demonstrations were conducted at the farm, including tree grafting, beekeeping and ecological cooking.

Dordt student Raymond Mutava, from Kenya, shared information at the conference regarding his senior research project. Mutava was a food security coordinator in Kenya before enrolling at Dordt College, and is currently completing a manual that describes how to grow amaranth, a grain that is high in nutritional value, and grows quickly with very little water. Amaranth is a viable cash crop for African farmers that also adds nutrients to diets lacking in protein.

A Dordt alumni, Les De Roos, was a delegate at the ECHO conference who is a missionary in Nigeria, working in agricultural research at Laborers with Christ USA. Two other Dordt alumni, Lindsey Cameron and Carolyn Langley, are currently ECHO interns.

ECHO is a non-profit, inter-denominational Christian organization that has been assisting a global network of missionaries and development workers since 1981. It is currently serving agricultural workers in 180 countries.

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