The Study Program

ECHO provides opportunities for current development workers and missionaries to receive hands-on training in Tropical Agriculture.  This program combines access to ECHO's broad range of resources related to tropical agriculture with a chance to do hands-on work on the Global Farm over a short-term period. Though we are not a formal training center, ECHO provides an environment that fosters learning.

The Study Program is designed to serve active overseas development practitioners with field experience who cannot attend one of our courses and are looking for a short-term study experience. We are interested only in mature participants with a serious desire to learn, a capacity for self-directed study, and experience in development work. High moral standards and a lifestyle consistent with ECHO employees are required. Mid-career and senior missionaries should also ask about our Missionary-in-Residence program.

Program Components

The program is a split of a 40-hour work week between study and work on our Global Farm depending on learning obejctives. This allows for first-hand experience in tropical agriculture and benefits from the hands-on work it takes to maintain the Global Farm. 

Participants meet with a staff coordinator to discuss learning goals and areas of interest. Participants then receive a listing of topics related to their goals and key books and assistance in refining their study program.

Resources at ECHO include books, a large compilation of articles organized by subject, computers for database searches, videos, appropriate technologies, bookstore, farm, arboretum and tropical plant nursery. Participants are also able to take part in weekly training activities, special seminars and presentations for interns and staff.

Students have the option of spending part of each week working with ECHO interns, who are responsible for maintaining the Global Farm. Daily tasks depend on the season and needs at the time. We encourage students to value this time of work because it is a time of learning in a hands-on setting. Work on the farm involves some combination of four main activities: assisting with the establishment or maintenance of our plantings, weeding and other general farm tasks, helping feed and care for our animals, and working with appropriate technologies. Emphasis is on plant and animal species appropriate for the tropics or subtropics.

When to Apply

ECHO accepts Study Program participants throughout the year with some exceptions (November - mid-January are generally closed to Independent Study due to our annual ECHO Conference and holiday season). Participants spend one day to as long as one month at ECHO, depending on their personal goals and situation. Apply early and plan to be flexible, as the number of applicants we are able to accept depends largely on availability of housing and staff. The application for the Study Program can be found here.


ECHO's Global Farm is located at 17391 Durrance Road, North Fort Myers, FL 33917.

Program Details

Tuition Cost (Daily) 

$25.00 per person per weekday for study

$25.00 per person per night ofHousing


Transportation while at ECHO ECHO is located beyond the reach of public transportation and a mile from the nearest convenience store, so we highly recommend students have their own car. If this is not possible, students can take the initiative to arrange with staff trips to the store, church, etc. and help pay for gas. ECHO cannot provide students with a vehicle, and our ability to provide transportation is not gauranteed.
Transportation to or from Fort Myers airport MBA Airport Service Phone: (239) 482-2777. Ground transportation booth located at the lower level across from Door 5.


ECHO does not provide meals. All meals are the responsibility of the student. Students can also volunteer to help prepare meals during their stay. Housing units at ECHO include cooking facilities shared by house residents. Grocery stores are within 15 minutes of campus by vehicle. We recommend that you plan at least $50/week per person for food expenses.

Emergency Health Insurance

Proof of Health insurance is required for all participants.  If proof is not provided, insurance will be purchased on your behalf and you will be charged the total of the premium.


Childcare is not available. Children must be supervised if accompanying you to ECHO.

Tuition scholarship

Some donations are designated for this purpose; Inquire if you need assistance.


If you have questions about the study program, please contact with Independent Study in the subject line.

Non U.S. Citizens need to complete this form when applying for any program held in the United States. International Registrants Additional Information