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ECOLIFE Conservation 2021 Annual Report

AB Gala 1

A note from our Executive Director

2021 was a monumental year for ECOLIFE Conservation. In the midst of the pandemic, our team broke our stove-building record and simultaneously achieved Gold Standard certification, enabling us to sell carbon credits for our work in Mexico. Sale of carbon credits will provide us with sustainable income for our stove program in perpetuity.

Our aquaponics team designed and built a second greenhouse to expand our expertise in aquaculture and raise more fish. The team also finalized design and began construction on the prototype for a Mobile Aquaponics Response Kit (MARK), an aquaponics farm in a container suitable for domestic and international use virtually anywhere.

It is safe to say that not only did we keep going, we thrived. We thrived because of you, our ECOLIFE community. Everything we are able to do is because of your guidance, encouragement, and financial support. Our work is far from over, and we keep setting the bar higher. We hope to expand our team in 2022, build even more stoves than we did in 2021, and provide access to sustainably grown produce and fish to underserved communities across the world.

Thank you for your support. You have saved ecosystems and saved lives. At ECOLIFE we believe, “If you can dream it, you can do it.”

Anne Middleton

Our 2021 Impact

In the U.S.


LBS food donated


ECO-Cycles Distributed


Over $500,000 Raised at our annual gala


Aquaponics Innovation Center Tours Educating future leaders and farmers


School Children Impacted

In Mexico


Total Lives Impacted


Stoves Built


Trees Saved


Tons of CO2 reduced


Jobs created

Goals Achieved

Community-Based Conservation >

More stoves less carbon

A big accomplishment for the organization in 2021 was receiving the official designation of “Gold Standard Certified Carbon Project”. This means our Patsari Stove Program is able to generate and sell verified emission reductions, or carbon credits. Stoves built exceeded past records. ECOLIFE was certified in seven of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Sustainable Agriculture >

Modular Aquaponics Response Kit

With the continued backing of our supporters, 2021 was a year of triumph. We saw more than 270 ECO-Cycle Aquaponics Kits make their way into business, homes, and classrooms. Our Aquaponics Innovation Center (AIC) yielded more than 2,200 pounds of sustainably grown produce to community members in need across San Diego​. The AIC also served as a virtual classroom for global participants to attend virtual tours and learn how aquaponics is used to reduce resource consumption while alleviating food insecurity.

This year we also donated over 2000 pounds of produce to those dealing with food insecurity.

Utilizing grant funds from the San Diego Foundation, we began construction of the first Modular Aquaponics Response Kit at the AIC, which will more than triple our growing capability when completed.


In November 2021, we surveyed Uganda and met with leaders in the community to discuss potential applications for future installations of the Modular Aquaponics Response Kit. We hope that you will follow along as this program develops!

West GreenHouse

We completed the West Greenhouse Aquaponics system. The system is focused on breeding and harvesting fish so we will have a continual supply of fish to donate to people in need in 2022. The system is decoupled which allows us to showcase a different kind of aquaponics system and expands our ability to teach the public and our interns and volunteers. The system features large mineralization tanks where we process the fish waste before moving it to the hydroponic beds. This allows us to have water only leave the system through our plants, saving a tremendous amount of water. We are using less than a tenth of the water used in soil farming. With this system we have also doubled our grow-space and growing capability.

AIC Produce donations to our distribution partners: Interfaith, Salvation Army Escondido, Produce for Patriots

2021 Finances

["Fundraising: ${y}","Overhead: ${y}","Programs: ${y}"]
Fundraising: $342,793.63  |  Overhead: $99,835.19   |  Programs: $957,474.13
Total Expenses: $1,400,102.95  |  Total Revenue: $1,460,144.56

Grants received in 2021

San Diego Foundation for M.A.R.K.: $75,000

Escondido Community Foundation EUSD ECO-Cycles: $25,000

Kiwanis and General Atomics Sciences Education Foundation for SDUSD kits: $4,000 and $5,000

Thank you!

Our Sponsors

Corporations & Organizations

  • Badger Controls
  • Calsense
  • CannonDesign
  • EMPAC – Risk Retention Group
  • Escondido Sunrise Rotary
  • Farm Fresh to You
  • Frize Corporation
  • La Monarca Bakery
  • Maya Moon
  • MC2
  • Morgan Stanley
  • Musick Davison LLP
  • Schoolfield Properties
  • SDGE
  • Spotlight Energy
  • Valencia Reserve Women’s Club
  • The Village Garden Club of La Jolla
  • Torrey Pines Law Group
  • Visceral
  • Wollman Wealth Designs
  • Wyvern Guild


  • Community Foundation of Broward
  • Escondido Community Foundation
  • The Leslie and Bernard Bonar Family Foundation
  • Orndorff Family Foundation
  • San Diego Foundation
  • Westreich Finaly Foundation

Our Board of Directors

  • AJ van de Ven, Board Chair
  • Daryl Williams
  • Eleanor Musick
  • Erin Grey
  • Fred Wollman
  • Jaime Gabriel Paramo Ramirez
  • Jesse Eisner
  • Joseph Orndorff
  • Juan Carlos Jaimes Arteaga
  • Paul Bernstein
  • Ricardo Cervantes
  • Steve Shultz
  • Taylor Holland
  • William Toone, Founder

In 2021 Paul Bernstein and Jesse Eisner joined our Board of Directors

Paul Bernstein

Dr. Paul Bernstein, former Medical Director, San Diego and Regional Coordinator for Telehealth and Virtual Care for Kaiser Permanente Southern California, was a Physician Lead for Innovation and Patient Transformation. Under his leadership as Medical Director, he won the California Award for Performance Excellence (CAPE) and the National Malcolm Baldrige Best Practice Award for leadership and innovation. He was also instrumental in donating a community garden in East County to the International Rescue Committee.

Dr. Bernstein is a Head and Neck Surgeon and was the chairman of the Head and Neck Division of the American Cancer Society (ACS, 1987-2007) and a member of the organization’s Board of Directors. He has written 7 novels, including Courage to Heal, the winner of the San Diego, New York, and London Book Awards, based on Sidney Garfield, the doctor who, along with Henry Kaiser, changed American Medicine.

Jesse Eisner

Jesse is the Corporate Operating Officer and co-owner of Spotlight Energy in Orlando, Florida. Spotlight is trading and transporting physical natural gas across the entire continental United States as well as Canada utilizing over 70 interstate pipelines and storage facilities. Spotlight’s core focus is providing value to our customers and maintaining relationships driven by trust and dependability, while at the same time creating a culture of passion, dedication, and creativity from its employees. In just over 5 years Spotlight has grown to approximately $900mm in annual revenue and approaching 40 full-time employees. Mr. Eisner holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Florida.

Our Staff

U.S. Team

  • Anne Middleton, Executive Director
  • Chris Goering, Operations Manager
  • Connor Leone, Director, Sustainable Agriculture Program
  • Katherine Splane, Administrative Assistant
  • Kaitlyn Murphy, Project Coordinator
  • Martin Niwinski, Aquaponics Engineer

Mexico Team

  • Andrés Alonso, Creador Audiovisual
  • Victoria Alvarez, Recursos Humanos
  • María Castañeda, Coordinadora Departamento de Difusión
  • Adrián Catana, Jefe de Construcción
  • Alejandro Tavera Durán, Director General
  • Francisco “Paco” Catana, Coordinador de Construcción
  • Bárbara Escobedo, Jefa de Educación
  • Yolotzin “Yolo” Martínez, Asistente de Monitoreo
  • Karen Mondragón, Auxiliar de Promoción
  • Brenda Pineda, Jefa de Monitoreo
  • Eduardo “Lalo” Ramírez, Coordinador General
  • Luz Valencia, Jefa de Promoción

Uganda Team

  • Simon Kwikiriza, Uganda Program Coordinator

Volunteer Highlight: Liz Davis

Liz Davis is a southern California native, lifelong nature lover and has run her home organizing business since 2003. She lives in Escondido with her husband, Jim, who works in sustainable agriculture.

When asked why ECOLIFE? Liz responded, “ECOLIFE combines environmental and humanitarian solutions in a way that few other organizations do. Their work provides benefits that are clear, immediate, and permanent…it is inspiring to be a part of it!

Our Mission

Our mission is to protect wildlife, natural resources, and the people who depend on them.