Posted by Keith Reed

There were 18 members present at the meeting. Guests were Carolyn Kambich (wife of Tony); Melvina Lube (Rotarian from Vernon Hills and International Service Chair); Eric Birkenstein’s daughter Leslie; and four guests of Ned Meisner from Ecuador—Dr. Maritza Guilten, Dr. Cealia Espinoza, Maria Emilia Pavon and Ana Crishra Pavon. Carl Yudell was celebrating a birthday and it was mentioned that long time member David Abell has been a member of our Club for 43 years.

Patti announced that her membership committee will be meeting January 14th at Liz’ bank at 8:30 am.

HAPPY BUCKS: Tony and our guest speaker, Marc Baclin, both contributed to honor Ned Meisner’s hospitality to his Ecuador visitors and the wonderful Christmas Eve they all spent at Ned’s house. Patti contributed due to her husband’s successful knee operation.

Heather Higgins’ “dig n grin” was an example of the old adage “things aren’t always what they appear to be on the surface”.

GUEST SPEAKER MARC BACKLIN: Ned introduced Marc who had a successful career in the military service and as an industrial engineer. He was originally from Minnesota, but has been a world traveler in recent years heading up his own “Adopt a Village Foundation” and living in Quito, Ecuador. He also partners on projects with other foundations to provide medical services, clean water, electricity and books to people in need. He said that Ecuador has about 15 million people and a land mass the size of Colorado. He said that it’s government structure is a form of socialism but that it is a safe and secure country, which helps with the “sustainability” of the projects he works on there. He introduced Ned Meisner to the agricultural project in Ecuador, Province of Pichincha and Parish of Esperanza, which has about 4000 inhabitants with their main economic activity being agriculture. Up until now the main crop raised in this area was flowers, but that such crop has caused some environmental problems with an impact on the health of local residents as well as the condition of their soil -- primarily because flowers are chemically produced. The purpose of the project GG 1981369 that our Club is sponsoring along with the local Rotary Club in Quito Equinoccio, is to organize, systematize and implement an Agroecological and Marketing Program to improve the overall quality of life among the local people of La Esperanza. The farm is already implemented, and has trained people from the communities on agro-ecological methods and techniques. Now the project will focus on implementing a post harvest management system of the products (mostly food products such as tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, onions, green vegetables, etc.), developing market strategies for the commercialization of organic products, establishing a transportation system using refrigerated equipment, organizing store and ambulatory markets in Quito and developing educational programs for consumers on the benefits of organic products. The annual budget for such project has been set for about $140,000 which includes necessary equipment, store rental, personnel, laboratory and marketing expenses, but there is presently a short fall of about $40,000 to sustain this budget. Much of the work will be done by volunteers from the area as well as many college students from all over the world who know about the project.

Mark presented a very informative powerpoint, which is available by email.  Keith Reed will be happy to send you the powerpoint if you email him at:

The International Rotary is trying to recruit other Clubs to participate in this project. Ned Meisner is also contacting other Clubs to join this effort.