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Escritor: by Dr. Martin L. Price, Scott D. Sherman & Larry Yarger Revised by Gene Fifer 2017
Publicado: 1/4/2006

There are two parts to this document; part 1 provides a brief description of the things a college student should consider as he/she chooses opportunities for learning and part 2 lists organizations that provide some practical training. The second section will be most useful for individuals applying to or who have been accepted by a mission and are preparing for service, and for missionaries that have limited knowledge of agriculture, health care, and appropriate technology yet realize their ministry has some level of involvement in one or more of these areas.


We frequently receive letters from people who sense a calling to serve the needy overseas. They ask questions such as: “How can I best use my science background to serve the Lord and the needy overseas?” “Are there viable options other than medicine?” and “I feel God is calling me to help the poor and needy feed themselves. What is the best training for such work?”

Our work puts us in a position to correspond with many agricultural missionaries. You would understand the difficulty of providing a straightforward answer to the above questions if you knew the diversity of backgrounds these folks represent. We hope the following observations and comments will be helpful.

Choose your direction

In planning your college course of study, first decide whether you want to help farmers indirectly through research or directly through extension type work. If by research, then academic training at the graduate level becomes very important. Be warned that opportunities for employment in research where the primary purpose is to help Third World farmers on small farms are strictly limited. You can talk to professors at any land grant institution for advice on how to prepare for a research career.

If you prefer to work directly with farmers in an overseas setting, you need to study as broadly as possible. Areas of study should focus on the four categories: working with plants, working with animals, working with materials (appropriate technologies), and working with people. You should also be aware that your credentials could be your way of entry into another country. If you will be working as a full-time agriculturist overseas, many countries will require evidence (copies of transcripts and diplomas) that you have educational training in agriculture or international development.

For those attending an agricultural school (by no means a must), try to get as general a degree as possible, studying such subjects as animal science, agronomy, horticulture, soil science, plant pathology, plant physiology, plant taxonomy, entomology, forestry, and plant breeding. If aquaculture is available take at least one course, if agroforestry courses are offered, take all you can. Any opportunities to take courses in international agriculture would be most helpful. In addition, courses in marketing of agricultural products and adult education (courses required of an extension agent) could also prove to be useful. If you are interested in training at the graduate level, you should give serious thought to animal science, aquaculture, horticulture, cropping systems, development sociology, ag economics, or agroforestry.

Do not be limited by the confines of the particular training you receive. Formal academic work prepares the mind with information and skills, but comprises only a small part of what you will know when you are 40 years old. A person with a well-trained mind is in a position to develop an expertise in most any area of study. Academic training should give you special freedom to pursue many directions. Do not slight the liberal arts! You are more likely to pick up the agricultural techniques on your own than you are to pick up anthropology, sociology, history, etc. At the undergraduate level, be sure to take a foreign language. Don’t worry too much at this point about which language group God is calling you to. It would be ideal to study a language that you will use, but the important thing is gain experience in learning a language. Choose Spanish if you believe God may be calling you to the Americas or French if you are considering Africa.

The following is a list of Christian colleges that have majors in agricultural fields. This information has been provided by the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities, 329 8th Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002; phone: 202/546- 8713; e-mail:; website - Other majors, such as biology and environmental sciences, can provide a good background for those working in agricultural projects. Most Christian colleges offer some major in the natural sciences so a list here is unnecessary. The same is true for secular universities and their majors in agriculture; every state has a land grant college that contains something akin to a college of agriculture.

State Land-grant Universities may offer degree programs of interest at lower prices. Virginia Tech and the University of Missouri have strong programs in agroforestry. Covenant College has a program in Economics and Community Development, Calvin College has a program in International Development Studies.

Learn by experimentation, by conversing with others working in the same area, and by reading widely

This is the only way to become a “true expert”. Too often we wait for someone who can tell us just what will and will not grow in a particular soil and climate or we do not try gardening because we have no training. The best way to learn gardening is by doing. Go into each new situation as a learner. For beginning gardeners that hope to work overseas, we recommend a subscription to Organic Gardening magazine. This publication is helpful as it provides many useful insights into gardening techniques without the intensive use of inorganic chemical fertilizers and pesticides. In a sense this mimics the type of production common in developing countries where many farmers are unable to afford these agricultural inputs. Although farmers in these countries will be growing crops you are not familiar with under conditions you are not accustomed to, it will be your task to learn from them and work with them to come up with new techniques and/or plants better suited to their changing situations.

Supplement your education.

No matter what courses you take, you will need to supplement your formal education by self-study. What you study independently will depend in a large part on what you have not studied formally. For example, if you have had no courses in botany, you may want to read an introductory book on botany and plant physiology. There is nothing to keep you from reading the textbook for any course you choose.

The following is a short list of suggested reading for the potential agricultural missionary:

  • Amaranth To Zai Holes:Ideas For Growing Food Under Difficult Conditions
    The first 51 issues of ECHO Development Notes were revised, updated and compiled into this book. It is currently available digitally on ECHOcommunity.

  • Agricultural Options for Small Scale Farmers features selected content from the first 100 issues of ECHO Development Notes, a quarterly technical bulletin targeted towards ECHO’s international network of development workers. It is a book filled with practical options for helping resource-poor, smallholder farmers and urban gardeners--in the tropics and subtropics--to produce the food they need under the difficult growing conditions that they often face. Agricultural Options for the Small Farmer also contains material written by experienced practitioners on agricultural systems they have implemented in the field and that have been adopted by thousands of farmers.

  • Growing Vegetables In Fiji
    This book is a great starting point for individuals new to the tropics who find themselves called upon to do vegetable gardening under tropical conditions. We have found this book helpful in teaching basic gardening techniques and bridging the gap between temperate experience and tropical realities.
  • People In Rural Development
    Peter Batchelor, a veteran agricultural missionary in Africa and founder of Faith and Farm Mission, wrote this book. It is an excellent book on Christ-centered agricultural development and recommended reading for any Christian considering a career serving the Lord in Rural Development.
  • Servanthood: The Vocation Of The Christian
    This book was written to encourage a group of Christian high school students from the States as they pre- pared for a work project in the Dominican Republic. While serving as an excellent guide for personal study, it lends itself exceptionally well as a text for a course on servanthood. Food for the Hungry uses it in all their training programs. “Consistently over five years, students later list the servanthood course as the single thing from their training that helped them most.” Available from: Food for the Hungry (1224 East Washington Street, Phoenix, AZ 85034, Phone: (480) 998-3100, (800) 248-6437, Fax: (480) 998-4461,, for $10.00 plus shipping.
  • Techniques and Plants for the Tropical Subsistence Farm
    This monograph provides an excellent introduction to a wide variety of food plants adapted to hot, humid regions. Its scope is broader than just gardening, dealing with such topics as vegetables and cereals, trees, forage crops, pest control etc. Copies are available from ECHO.
  • Two Ears of Corn: A Guide to People-Centered Agricultural Improvement
    Highly recommended for those with minimal experience in areas of community development, one missionary in Zambia had this to say about it: “I don’t think I have ever read anything that had such a practical grasp of both village problems and solutions. I can already see that the book will make a difference in the way we carry out our program.” Rather than outlining any particular technology, the book talks about how to get started, choosing the technology to introduce, and thoughts on administration, expansion and consoli- dation of projects.
  • Walking with the Poor
    In this revised and updated edition of a modern classic, Bryant Myers shows how Christian mission can contribute to dismantling poverty and social evil. Integrating the best principles and practice of the interna- tional development community, the thinking and experience of Christian nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and a theological framework for transformational development, Myers demonstrates what is pos- sible when we cease to treat the spiritual and physical domains of life as separate and unrelated.
  • When Helping Hurts

Make use of the resources that ECHO provides

Ask us to send you Echo Development Notes. ECHO’s quarterly technical bulletin is sent to thousands of folks in over 160 countries. These are written for the person working directly with the small farmer, whether they have a lot of agricultural training or none at all. They are intensely practical and will give you not only new ideas and information, but a “feel” for issues of importance to those working with subsistence farmers. All EDN issues (past and forthcoming) are avaiable on ECHO Community. The first 100 issues were reorganized into the book Agricultural Options for Small-Scale Farmers (see above). EDN is now available in English, Spanish and French.

Plan to visit ECHO either as a student or an intern. Undergraduates can take part in the study program that allows students to come, study, work and experience hands-on learning at ECHO. A credit option is available for those that can arrange it through their college (e.g., independent study or internship requirement). The intern program at ECHO provides an opportunity for college graduates to work and study (a small salary is paid) at ECHO for 14 months.

Attend ECHO’s annual agricultural conference. It is held each November in Ft. Myers and draws over 200 missionaries and internationals working in agricultural and community development in over 30 countries. You will hear speakers talk about project work as well as how they integrate evangelism and works of help into their ministries. Student registrations are limited.

Visit ECHO’s website. It contains many of the documents that we make available to practitioners in our overseas network. See and ECHO Community.

Find a mission that works in agriculture

A small number of groups have full-time agricultural missionaries; however the majority of people we correspond with do not work primarily in agriculture. Rather, they are Bible translators, church planters, nurses, teachers, pilots, etc., who have seen the need for agricultural assistance among the people they serve and have responded to God’s call to spend a portion of their time in agriculture.

Mission boards, like people, are a diverse group. They almost always have a written statement of faith to which they expect all staff to agree. The importance of selecting a mission board you can live with should not be underrated. Here are several resources to learn about mission opportunities:

  • Intercristo
    Intercristo (P.O. Box 33487, 19303 Fremont Ave N., Seattle, WA 98133; phone: 800/251-7740 or 206/546- 7330; website –, e-mail: has developed an extensive computer database of missions opportunities. If you apply with Intercristo they will conduct a “job search” for you based on your qualifications and desired type of work.
  • MARC Mission Handbook
    This handbook lists hundreds of mission agencies located in the U.S. Each entry includes a brief description of the mission’s work, budget, overseas personnel and contact numbers. It is published by MARC (Division of World Vision International, 121 East Huntington Dr. Monrovia, CA 91016-3400).
  • Urbana
    InterVarsity’s Student Mission Convention is held every three years between Christmas and New Year. It provides college students (and others) with the opportunity to meet mission agency representatives from hundreds of organizations. InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, P.O. Box 7895, Madison, WI 53707-7895; Phone: 608/274-9001, fax: 608/274-7882; Urbana website:
  • Vocational Mission Opportunities
    Here is a helpful website which, like Intercristo assists in finding organizations which employ agricultural missionaries. Web site:
  • Food for the Hungry

Get some practical agricultural experience

Get a summer job on a farm, university experiment station or research center. Use the following resources for finding a job in sustainable agriculture. Farmers that practice forms of sustainable agriculture more closely approximate farming systems used in developing countries.

  • Internships, Apprenticeships, Sustainable Curricula including On-Farm Experience and Working- Farms Programs in the U.S.
    A resource list from Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas (ATTRA) gives addresses and brief information about internships, apprenticeships, and sustainable agriculture learning opportunities. The twenty-one page list includes on-farm experience and other training programs in the USA.
    ATTRA, P.O. Box 3657, Fayetteville, AR 72702, USA; phone 800/346-9140; e-mail: askattra@ncatark.uark. edu; publication website:
  • Educational and Training Opportunities in Sustainable Agriculture
    The USDA educational booklet lists over 200 programs for those interested in studying or gaining experi- ence through university programs, farms, and other organizations in the U.S. and Canada. The institution, contact person, and a brief description of the programs offered are listed. The booklet is available at no cost from:
    Alternative Farming Systems Information Center, USDA, ARS, National Agricultural Library, Room 132, 10301 Baltimore Ave., Beltsville, MD 20705-2351; phone: 301/504-6559; e-mail:; publi- cation website -
  • ECHO Agricultural Internship
    ECHO’s 14-month internship is one of the best possible ways to prepare for agricultural missions. In most cases, what you learn “hands-on” will be of more practical value to you than what you learn in a university. There is probably not an intern who has left ECHO who would trade what they learned in their year here for a year’s worth of graduate study. Write for an application.
  • World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms

Get some first-hand, cross-cultural experience

We recommend going overseas for a short-term experience (of up to 3 years) before doing graduate work. This not only makes you more aware of the stresses you will experience in cross-cultural living, it also provides you with a focus you might not otherwise have. It may even lead you to choose a different field of study. Finally, it decreases the chance you will become lured away from your original goals. Up to 80% of all full-time missionaries have had a prior short-term experience, but not all those who go short-term decide to go long-term.

Doing agricultural missions is not an easy task. Many mission agencies with projects in evangelism, health, education, water, sanitation, etc. hesitate to add agricultural projects to their program. Why? Because it is often much less clear what they should do to have a major impact in agriculture than it is in these other areas. It has been said that if you can provide clean drinking water and build latrines you take care of up to 80% of a village’s health problems. Likewise, medicines already exist to treat most of the diseases in the developing world. But, if a community is “sick” because of the poverty of its farmers, it is much less clear what should be done. While overseas, look for successes in agricultural projects and try to determine why they have succeeded. We have found that successful agricultural projects often have one or more of the following characteristics: a new technology, new farming system, new plant species that involves no additional risk to local farmers, a ready market for a new product, and innovation so significant that farmers readily adopt it.

Be committed to the people and the work. Effective change takes time. Get to know the people and their “felt needs”. Live with them; learn their language and culture. Earn the right to help them. Be a learner; see why they do things the way they do (there’s usually a reason for everything, even if it seems foolish at first). Be flexible. You may become involved in more than you’d expected (e.g., reforestation, sanitation and health). Start small and be an experimenter. Identify naturally innovative farmers in the community and help them develop a vision to pass information on to their neighbors. Keep things simple; pick a few important technologies and promote them until they are recognized as an improvement. Be patient. Nationals must own the project. If they are not involved in every aspect from start to finish, it won’t work. Use local resources and appropriate technologies. Teach folks to teach others and don’t make yourself indispensable. All these help people to keep their dignity, avoid dependency, and help assure sustainability.


We are frequently asked where someone might go for practical training that would help in working with Third World farmers. God seems to be laying it on the hearts of a number of groups to meet this important need. Each group has a different approach and different strengths. A common shortcoming of most is the limited number of permanent staff that has practical Third World experience. The range of technical skills is likewise limited. Some of us are exploring ways to add depth to our programs by more closely coordinating our efforts, sharing resources, etc

We do not presume to offer an adequate summary of the efforts of each group, or to have included all groups that should be included. Neither are we offering an evaluation of their relative strengths and weaknesses. Costs for many of these programs are similar to those for college credit. Because costs change on a regular basis they are not included here.

Opportunities in North America

  • Equip International
    They offer 10-week training modules at Providence Farm in North Carolina. This ministry of Equip, Inc. offers cross-cultural and technical preparation for overseas living in the areas of appropriate technologies, food production, community health systems, and development of both the missionary and the community. Instructors are highly qualified, and the learning is largely hands on. In addition, they offer an intensive 2-week medical missionary course several times per year.\
  • Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems
    Center for Agroecology, UC Santa Cruz, 1156 High Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95064 USA; website – https://
    Each April through October, the Center for Agroecology at UC Santa Cruz offers a training course in organic gardening and farming. This 6-month residential “Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture”, held at the UCSC Farm and Garden, emphasizes hands on learning, working side-by-side with instructors, and classes in organic horticultural methods. Cultural requirements for vegetable, herb, flower and fruit cultivars are covered, including the specifics of soil preparation, composting, sowing, cultivation, propagation, irrigation, and pest and disease control. Marketing efforts include an on-site Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) project. This is a full-time program involving strenuous field and garden work five days a week.
  • Eden Valley Institute
    6263 North County Road 29, Loveland, CO 80538 USA; phone: 970/667-1770; website – http://www.eden-
    This farm specializes in small farm operation for schools, missions and family-based market gardening.
    They offer a course “designed especially for small farm management, with emphasis on food production for schools and market gardening through an apprenticeship experience for one full growing season. Class- room instruction and field application are blended together. The course trains individuals in the science of biological gardening so they are prepared to instruct others.” The program is run by Seventh-Day Ad- ventists, but open to all Christians interested in agricultural missions (US or overseas). The main focus is commercial-scale, hands-on organic and vegetarian market gardening.
  • ECHO
    17391 Durrance Road, N. Fort Myers, FL 33917 USA; phone: 239/543-3246, fax: 239/543-5317; e-mail:; website -
    The purpose of ECHO’s study program is twofold. One goal is to acquaint those preparing for or interested in overseas service related to agricultural development with some of the techniques, problems, and resourc- es for the small farmer or urban gardener struggling to make a living under marginal conditions. We intend that this experience will give the student an understanding of Third World agricultural development as a career opportunity. The other purpose is to provide missionaries and others already working overseas with an opportunity to delve deeper into topics of concern that pertain to their work and introduce them to useful resources. ECHO is committed to experiential learning and “self-directed” study.
    There are two options: 1) full-day study after an orientation to our facilities and resources, or 2) half-day study in conjunction with half-day hands-on learning working with ECHO’s interns. Although we do not plan regular courses at set times, ECHO does schedule weekly seminars and times of training for the interns and encourages visiting missionaries to participate in these learning opportunities. ECHO is usually able to provide short-term housing to individual development workers. Calling or writing as much in advance of your visit as possible is recommended. While an afternoon visit to ECHO can be beneficial, we have found that most folks get more from a longer stay.
  • Heifer Project International (HPI)
    Headquarters Office: P.O. Box 8058, Little Rock, AR 72203 USA; phone: 800/422-0474; website – http://
    HPI has three learning centers - Heifer Ranch, Rt. 2 Box 33, Perryville, AR 72126; Overlook Farm, 216 Waschusett St, Rutland, MA 01543; Ceres Center, 3906 E. Don Pedro Rd, Ceres, CA 95307.
    Heifer ranch, officially known as the International Learning and Livestock Center (ILLC), has a wide array of experiential education opportunities. These include a “Global Village” experience, a ropes course, work camps, day field trips for children and youth, organized workshops and seminars. A “Maymester” program is available through an arrangement with the Associated Colleges of the South, which includes time for students at both the ILLC and in village level situations in Honduras. HPI has developed a model for holistic development known as the Cornerstones Model. This is a participatory approach to working with people in many settings, and includes situation analysis, visioning, planning, monitoring and evaluation. Workshops in the participatory approach to planning and evaluation are available to other groups and organizations, and can be arranged upon request. Many opportunities exist for short and long term volunteers and interns, which provide ongoing learning experiences in many areas, including organic gardening, sustainable agri- culture, animal care and husbandry, and experiential hunger education.
  • Hope International University
    School of Graduate Studies, 2500 E. Nutwood Ave., Fullerton, CA 92831 USA; phone: 714/879-3901; web- site –
    Hope International University has an MBA program and a MS program in Management both of which have concentrations in International Development. These programs have a field-based, task-oriented compo- nent in collaboration with Food for the Hungry International. In addition, they have the distinction of being Internet-based programs. This is a new opportunity for Christian workers to continue graduate studies while in the field.
  • HEART Institute (Hunger Education And Resources Training)
    c/o Warner Southern College, 13895 U.S. Hwy. 27, Lake Wales, FL 33859 USA; phone: 863/638-1188, fax: 863/638-1172; e-mail:; web site
    The HEART Institute is a unique, interdenominational training center designed to prepare people to serve effectively in the Third World. Located in subtropical Florida, HEART operates a professionally staffed com- munity that simulates many aspects of Third World living. Students reside in the village and are provided the opportunity for hands-on application of the many valuable skills integrated into HEART’s curriculum. In addition to practical and technical training skills, participants acquire problem-solving skills that will enable them to adapt more readily to the challenges they will face both at home and overseas. Areas of training available at HEART include; Appropriate Technology, Cross-Cultural Communication/Community Develop- ment, Intensive Gardening, Food Technology, Primary Health Care and Small Animal Husbandry. HEART has convenient short-term training programs (3 weeks) as well as longer programs, lasting up to 15 weeks.
  • Youth With A Mission (YWAM), School of Environment and Resource Stewardship
    13410 Highway 12, Weston, CO, 81091 USA; phone: 719/868-2700; fax: 719/868-2111; e-mail: registrar@; website –
    Weeks 1-13 involve classroom learning and applied practicums at Ponderosa Ranch in Southern Colorado. Some topics covered are: Agroforestry, Soil Conservation, Appropriate Technologies, Survival Skills, and Water and Health. Weeks 14-16 are spent applying the material in the Western US. Weeks 17-24 conclude the program with overseas outreach in teams to locations in East Africa, Central America, and South Asia.
  • Tillers International
    10515 OP Ave. E., Scotts, MI 49088-9307 USA; phone: 800/498-2700 or 269/626-0223, e-mail: Tillersox@; website –
    Tillers strives to offer the highest quality informal training in rural skills. They provide a farm-like atmosphere to enhance the experience. Their mission is to preserve low-cost, historical rural skills, to find contemporary refinements within low-capital constraints, and to share this information with those interested in small farms both in America and around the globe. Short courses in animal power, blacksmithing, and woodworking are available. They are committed to international rural development and the small-farm. Small class sizes ensure a warm and flexible learning environment.
  • University of Florida
    International Programs, 2039 McCarty Hall, P.O. Box 110282, Gainesville, FL 32611-0320, USA; phone: 352/392-1965, fax: 352/392-7127; email:; website – This program of the university sponsors one to three week courses in international development and technical assistance. Recent course offerings included: Agroforestry Systems: Design and Management, Vegetable Production and Management for International Markets, Embryo Transfer in Cattle, Post-Harvest Technology for Horticultural Crops, and a series on Farming Systems Research and Extension.
  • University of Guelph
    Office of Open Learning, 160 Johnston Hall, Guelph, Ontario N1G 2W1, CANADA; phone: 519/767-1114;
    email:; website –
    Guelph offers complete diplomas, certificates, and individual courses in horticulture and agriculture via independent learning. These are oriented for temperate climates. Some course titles include: Principles and Practices of Soil Science, Livestock Production Systems, Business Management, Weed Control, Advanced Beekeeping (Includes Tropical), Soil Conservation, Energy on the Farm, Forages, Field Machinery, Animal Diseases And Parasites, Dairy Goat Production, Meat Technology, Managing Small Rural Enterprise, Urban Tree Management, Safe Pesticide Handling And Storage. Many of the horticultural courses are related to landscaping.
  • William Carey International University
    Division of International Development, 1539 E. Howard, Pasadena, CA 91104 USA; phone: 626/398-2141; website –
    William Carey International University is the training arm of the U.S. Center for World Mission. Individu- ally designed M.A. and Ph.D. programs with on and off campus components (including field projects) are offered. A one-year, certificate program in Community Development exists. The four primary areas that are covered are economic self reliance, community health, appropriate technology, and teaching aids.
    On-campus courses are also available for B.A., B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. candidates. The library resources of the International Development Center are available to both enrolled and independent investigators. These holdings are “designed to provide a comprehensive, updated collection of information resources pertaining to third world community development as specifically related to urban and rural development.” The library contains over 1000 highly selected books and 400 periodicals as well as an Appropriate Technology micro- fiche collection. There are also many IDRC and USAID publications on microfilm. The holdings are particu- larly strong in forestry and agroforestry as well as arid area issues. In addition, there are approximately 500 uncatalogued books in community health care.
  • World Hunger Relief, Inc.
    356 Spring Lake Rd., PO Box 639, Elm Mott, TX 76640 USA; phone: 254/799 5611; website – http://world-
    The hands-on farm training opportunities at WHRI vary from short, informal courses to three-month cours- es. Emphasis is on a set of technologies that will enable third world villagers to be self sufficient where they are. At the simplest level, a missionary in transit might stop by for a short time. Mission sending organiza- tions sometimes arrange with them for a special training session for some of their members. There is also a three-month training course that is located in Ferrier, Haiti and includes working with an agroforestry project. Training is open to any Christian group that can benefit from it.
  • AgriCorps

Opportunities outside North America

  • CATIE (Tropical Agriculture Research and Training Center)
    7170 Turrialba, Costa Rica, CENTRAL AMERICA; phone: 506-55-66-431; website – CATIE focuses on generating and disseminating knowledge aimed at accelerating agricultural development, developing sustainable agricultural systems for the smaller farmer and designing and utilizing integrated natural resource management techniques. CATIE accomplishes this through its research, graduate educa- tion, training and technical assistance activities that are conducted in close collaboration with the research, education and development institutions of the countries it serves. The center’s primary service region is Central America and the Caribbean.
  • International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR)
    YC James Yen Center, Silang, Cavite 4118, PHILIPPINES; phone: 63-46-414-2417, fax: 63-2-886-4385; email:; website – (Regional offices in Manila; Quito, Ecuador; Nairobi, Kenya; New York, USA.)
    The International Institute of Rural Reconstruction offers short courses for rural development profession- als. IIRR trains leaders in participatory, people-centered, sustainable approaches to solving the problems of the world’s poor. The courses are repeated annually, but you should allow plenty of time for registration, as they tend to fill quickly. They run 2-4 weeks at their campus in the Philippines. Participants must be profi- cient in English, willing and able to participate in intensive training, and have rural development experience (3 years or more) related to the course of interest. Recently held short courses have covered the following topics: Development Communication, Environmental Management, Rural Development Management, Gender Analysis in Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources, Systems in Community-Managed Health, Training of Trainers on Sustainable Agriculture, Regenerative Agriculture, Applying Indigenous Knowledge in Development, Development Approaches in the Third World, and Household Food Security through Home Gardening.
  • Natural Resources Institute (NRI)
    Central Avenue, Chatham Maritime, Kent ME4 4TB, UK; phone: +44 1634-880-088, fax: +44 1634-880-077;
    email:; website –
    NRI is an internationally recognized center of expertise in the natural resources sector in developing coun- tries. Their training courses are practically based and are run either at NRI’s base in Chatham or in the client’s own country. Some courses can lead to a Master of Science (MS) diploma qualification (accredited by the University of Greenwich) with the opportunity for students to undertake further research (supervised by NRI) in their own country in order to obtain a MS qualification. MS degrees are offered in Grain Stor- age Management, Natural Resources, Post-Harvest Horticulture, and Sustainable Agriculture. The Institute can also provide tailor-made training programs in any of its fields of expertise. Short course certificates are offered by NRI in: Community Based Forestry & Resource Management, Farmer Participatory Research, Participatory Rural Appraisal, Pesticide Management, Post-harvest Horticulture, and Handling and Quality of Fish in the Tropics.
  • New Dawn Center
    AP 372-8000, San Isidro del General, COSTA RICA. Website – html
    New Dawn programs in Costa Rica are as follows: 1) Ecological Agriculture for the Tropics - a one month course that demonstrates how to grow nutritious food in an ecological way (students learn principles of ecological and sustainable agriculture for home and community food production in Latin America), and 2) Natural Health Care with Tropical Medicinal Plants - a one month course which covers natural health care therapy, along with some of the most valuable medicinal plants of the tropical rainforest (particularly valu- able for medical missionary work in Latin America).
  • PELUM Association
    P.O. Box MP 1059, Mt. Pleasant, Harare, ZIMBABWE; phone: +263 (1) 431-0763; fax: +263 (1) 431-0765;
    email:; website –
    Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM) offers short courses throughout eastern and southern Africa. Recent course titles have included: Integrated Land-use Design, Farmer to Farmer, Article Writing, Holistic Management, Participatory Monitoring, and Be a Better Trainer in Sustainable Agriculture. They advertise their workshops as being intense and participatory with an emphasis on practical and expe- riential learning.
  • University of East Anglia
    School of Development Studies, Norwich, Norfolk NR4 7TJ, UK; phone: +44 (0)1603-456-161, fax +44 (0)1603-458-553; website –
    UEA offers diplomas, Masters, and Doctoral programs in various fields related to development. Some mem- bers of ECHO’s network have been able to stay on the field while completing Ph.D. degrees in the school’s “overseas-based research program,” in which the university supervisor visits the student’s site.
  • Water, Engineering, and Development Centre (WEDC)
    Loughborough University, Leicestershire LE11 3TU UK; phone: +44 (0)1509-222885, fax: +44 (0)1509- 211079; e-mail:; website –
    The Water, Engineering, and Development Centre (WEDC) is a self-funding unit within Loughborough University devoted to training, research, consultancy and other activities related to the planning, provision, operation and maintenance of water supplies, sanitation and physical infrastructure in developing countries. They offer Master of Science (MS) programs, diploma and short courses. Course titles have included: (MS) Technology and Management for Rural Development, Urban Engineering, Water and Environmental Man- agement, and Waste and Water Engineering; (Diploma) Community Technology for Rural Development, Groundwater Development, Irrigation and Water Resources, and Urban Water Supply; (Short Courses) Community Water Supply and Sanitation, Practical Water Supply and Sanitation, Practical Groundwater Exploration and Water Analysis and Quality.
  • Wye Campus, Imperial College London
    Ashford, Kent TN25 5AH UK; phone: +44 (0) 20-7594-2617, fax: +44 (0) 20-7594-2669; website – http://
    Master of Science and postgraduate diplomas are offered by distance education in agricultural develop- ment, environmental management, agricultural economics, food industry management and marketing, sustainable agriculture and rural development and more.
  • Zamorano (Pan American School of Agriculture)
    Office of External Relations and Development, 1010 Vermont Ave. NW, Suite 510, Washington DC 20005 USA; phone 202-785-5540, fax 202-737-3539; email:; website – http://
    Zamorano is a Pan-American center of higher learning, whose mission is to prepare leaders for the Ameri- cas in sustainable agriculture, agribusiness, natural resource management and rural development. All programs focus on training the farmer. At Zamorano, students from more than 15 countries interact with a teaching staff representing more than 20 nationalities in a unique educational system based on the princi- ples of learning-by doing, academic excellence and character and leadership formation. Classes are taught in both Spanish and English.
  • Asian Rural Institute
  • Earth University




Christian Colleges and Universities

Council for Christian Colleges & Universities

Abilene Christian University

College of the Ozarks

Dordt College

Eastern Mennonite University

Tabor College

Huntington University

Covenant College

Calvin College

Hope International University

William Carey International University

State Universities with Alternative Agriculture Programs

UC Santa Cruz – Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems

Virginia Tech – Agroforestry

University of Missouri – The Center for Agroforestry

Evergreen State College – Sustainable Agriculture Lab

University of Florida – College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

SIT Graduate Institute

Ministries with Agricultural Programs

Christian Jobs

Mission Handbook 21st Edition


The Alliance

Food for the Hungry

World Hunger Relief

Internships and Practical Experience

ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture

USDA Sustainable Agriculture Education and Training Directory

ECHO Internship

World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF)

Eden Valley Institute

Heifer Project Global Village

Hunger Education and Resource Training (HEART) YWAM School of Environment and Resource Stewardship

Tillers International


International Training Centers

CATIE – Tropical Agriculture Research and Training Center

IIRR – International Institute of Rural Reconstruction

University of Greenwich – Natural Resources Institute

The New Dawn Center of Costa Rica

PELUM Association

University of East Anglia – School of International Development

Loughborough University – Water, Engineering, and Development Centre

Zamorano – Pan American School of Agriculture

Asian Rural Institute

Earth University

Cite this article as:

Price, M.L., S.D. Sherman, and L. Yarger 2006. Preparing for Agricultural Missions. ECHO Technical Note no. 54.