Steve Fitch’s success in the environmental and non-profit world is unrivaled. Over the past eight years, Fitch has orchestrated the planting of more than 51 million trees in countries across the globe ravaged by massive deforestation.
Fitch, president and founder of The Eden Projects, will be the featured speaker during Central Christian College’s annual BG Products Business Lecture Series Wednesday on the college campus. College alumni and the public are invited to hear Fitch speak at one of two lecture opportunities scheduled for 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. in the Reimer Business Center, classroom 1134. There is no cost to attend and no reservations are needed.
Fitch grew up the son of missionaries and consequently spent much of his childhood in the Philippines. He loved the country’s “tropical paradise” but it wasn’t until his return to the country in the late 1990s that he discovered his paradise was gone. Deforestation had removed nearly all of the country’s forests and forced thousands of people away from their farms and rural homes to the big cities, where they became victims of slavery and human trafficking.
Realizing the massive environmental, social and economic impacts of deforestation, Fitch created The Eden Projects, a non-religious, non-profit organization that establishes nurseries and repopulates once thriving forests. The Eden Projects partners with existing missionary groups and non-profit organizations and utilize their existing infrastructure to plant trees and foster economic regrowth.
“There is a massive infrastructure already in place from the church world that has a huge capacity to deliver,” he said. “Eden ties into missionary agencies that don’t need to be convinced the environment is a disaster.”
Fitch contributes the organization’s success to its efficiency and ability to not only revive the environment but also local economies. By employing people directly impacted by deforestation, Fitch said the organization creates good-paying jobs and keeps people in their homes and communities.
“We hire those who desperately need a job to heal their environment,” he said.
Since its inception eight years ago, Fitch’s Eden Projects has assisted in replanting millions of trees in Haiti, Ethiopia and Madagascar, all of which lost more than 90 percent of their trees to deforestation. The organization receives invitations daily to move into new countries around the world.
Despite being a non-religious organization, the organization’s work allows volunteers and missionaries the opportunity to speak to villagers about Christianity and carry out Christ’s mission of caring for the poor. By planting trees, Fitch said, The Eden Projects is reviving forests and local communities.
“The Eden Projects reverses the cycle,” Fitch said. “We absolutely change local environments.”
The BG Products Business Lecture Series was established in 2002 through an endowed gift to the college. BG Products Inc., of Wichita, manufactures and distributes a broad line of specialty lubricants, greases, chemicals and service equipment throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, South America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, India and China. BG products are distributed through a network of independent distributors. Daren Greseth serves as the COO and President of BG Products, and Galen R. Myers, a 1962 Central graduate, is the chairman and CEO.
Page 2 of 2 - For more information about the upcoming lecture series, contact the Central Christian College Development Office at 241-0723 ext. 329. If you would like to learn more about The Eden Projects, log onto the organization’s website at www.edenprojects.org.