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 full time a long-term interest in Agricultural Development. Leaving a successful career in Finance behind, Michael undertook and received a MSc in Natural Resources/Agroforestry from the University of Missouri.
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 local ministry has little in the way of finances but may have access to land. Michael has also worked in Malawi, KwaZulu-Natal South Africa, and Kenya.
Michael appreciates working with smallholder farmers, on land which is often degraded. Along with the assets and knowledge of local agriculturists, Michael finds reward in designing the land into a financially productive property that supports the ministry and also bring benefit to local livelihoods and nutrition, which can be very seriously lacking.