Michael and Holly Cooley
Michael and Holly met at Liberty University where Michael received a BS in Business Administration and Government and Holly studied Sign Language. Both were blessed to grow up in Christian Homes and made personal decisions for Christ as children.
With Holly’s constant support, Michael followed successful careers in Executive Management and Finance, settling in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, while they raised and homeschooled two sons who are now grown, with families and successful paths of their own.
In 2015 Michael was led to pursue a long-term interest in Agricultural Development. Leaving a successful career in Finance behind, Michael undertook and completed a Graduate Certificate in Agroforestry from the University of Missouri. He is on-track to receive the MSc in Natural Resources/Agroforestry in May 2020.
After teaching the Permaculture Design Certificate course at a local college in the fall of 2018, Michael attended a program in Tropical Agriculture Development at Echo Global Farm, Ft. Meyers FL, where he met Rick Renninger, a faculty member at ELI and Sierra Leone project director. Through providential connections, Rick asked Michael to act as agricultural director for the ELI work in Sierra Leone, where, as in many instances, the work has little in the way of finances but may have access to land. Michael has also worked in KwaZulu-Natal South Africa, and Kenya.
Michael appreciates working with the land available, which is often degraded, and along with the assets and knowledge of local agriculturists, designing it into a financially productive property that supports the ministry and also benefits local nutrition, which can be very seriously lacking.