Ashley Muscarella

I have lived in Montpelier for four years. I have been a Hunger Mountain Co-op member for the last year, but I have belonged to other food cooperatives in New Hampshire and Kentucky. 

I am a middle school Social Studies teacher at Waits River Valley School. This August is my fifth year of teaching and exploring the world with students. I value teaching students to be curious about the world around them and to ask meaningful questions. 

I have served on multiple Boards of Directors as a teachers union member. While I attended college at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, I was the Student President for the Pennsylvania State Education Association. Among various responsibilities, I represented the interests of about 6,000 aspiring educators throughout Pennsylvania on the PSEA Board of Directors of roughly 50 directors.  

From 2016–2018, I served the National Education Association (NEA) as the Aspiring Educator (AE) Chairperson for two years. I represented the interests of around 50,000 future educators from across the US. I worked on the NEA Board of Directors, on Capitol Hill, throughout the country, and at the 10,000 member annual meeting. I worked with NEA leadership and staff to represent the interests of future educators, students, and best practices within education. Among many responsibilities, I chaired the Advisory Committee of Student Members, comprised of 12 members from college campuses throughout the US. This committee planned the annual AE Conference, facilitated leadership development, social media strategy and communication, and much more. 

I am interested in serving on the council because I believe food cooperatives are the sustainable grocery option for local communities. Agriculture is integral to Vermont’s economy and I believe co-ops can be an essential connection between farmers and community members. I believe that food cooperatives are the future of grocery in communities and I would like to serve on the Hunger Mountain Co-op Council to ensure that. 

I believe the Co-op can further its commitment to making space for low and moderate income families to become the central grocery provider in Montpelier. As an educator, I serve students and families of many economic backgrounds. I witness the positive impact of local foods on communities and consumers of free and reduced lunch and fresh foods at schools. Fellow educators and moderate income friends in the community have shared with me that they want to belong and shop at the Co-op, but voice concern of financial strain. I believe central Vermont should not have to choose between the quality agriculture and local products sold at the Co-op and their bottom line and I would like to bring that perspective to the Hunger Mountain Cooperative Council. 

Further, Hunger Mountain Co-op can work towards promoting zero-waste and reduced waste grocery shopping. I have been working toward a zero-waste lifestyle for the past 10 years and Hunger Mountain Co-op has been an essential component of that transition. I see opportunities for Hunger Mountain Co-op to reduce single use plastics and paper products in the deli and bulk sections. I believe reduced waste needs to be normalized in the American grocery experience and Hunger Mountain Co-op has an unique opportunity to lead that in central Vermont. 

My strengths and skills include: passion serving nonprofit, mission based organizations; knowledge and experience serving on Board of Directors; direct, non-confrontational communication; commitment to reduced waste lifestyles; experience teaching and navigating digital literacy skills; passion for Robert's Rules of Order; commitment to reducing human impact on the natural world; and much more.  

The council would benefit from me joining because I am authentic and passionate. I bring my heart to the work that I do and I feel driven by those I work with. I give my best effort to meet others’ where they are and listen to other perspectives with an open mind and gentle heart. 

I think the most important challenges in the Co-op's future are environmental sustainability and moving towards community based agriculture. I believe Hunger Mountain Co-op has a unique opportunity to ensure low and moderate income families can belong and sustainably shop at Hunger Mountain Co-op. I believe Hunger Mountain Co-op has an opportunity to promote and incentivize reduced waste shopping. 
To view Ashley's introduction video, click here.

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