Donor Story

Cooperative Spirit Soars

La Montañita Co-op Creates Memorial Scholarship for UNM Sustainability Studies Students

By Anna Adams

Posted October 16, 2017

“So much of sustainability studies aligns with what we’re about,” said Karolyn Cannata-Winge, marketing and communications director of La Montañita Co-op, who previously taught for eight years in UNM’s Communication and Journalism Department. “It’s a critical area of study.”

The co-op, New Mexico’s largest community-owned natural/organic food market with locations in Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Gallup, has established the La Montañita Co-op Marshall Kovitz Memorial Scholarship for UNM students minoring in sustainability studies. Marshall Kovitz, a founding member-owner of the co-op, passed away this past spring.

La Montañita Co-op’s location at the UNM Bookstore was made possible by the recruiting efforts of UNM Sustainability Studies students.

“Marshall truly embodied the cooperative spirit,” said Cannata-Winge. “We are absolutely excited to be funding this annual scholarship in his memory.”

“We’ve always been extremely grateful for our long-term relationship with the co-op,” said Dr. Bruce Milne, director of the UNM Sustainability Studies Program. “It’s a match made in heaven.” The program, available as a minor since 2007, is open to students of any major.

“The theory is sustainability complements any major,” said Milne. “Our program is really very interdisciplinary, with one or two students of almost every background. It’s a strategic way of getting this knowledge into society.”

The program offers multiple opportunities for students interested in local food systems, including volunteer and paid positions. Students may work on various projects, including within the co-op’s distribution center, which delivers food to grocery stores and restaurants all over New Mexico.

“The co-op makes organic food accessible to everyone,” said Milne, who explained that UNM Sustainability Studies students helped recruit the La Montañita retail location at the UNM Bookstore a few years ago.

Students have gone on to pursue many different paths, including working for nonprofits and local food systems. “We have students who have gone all over North and South America and Europe,” said Milne.

Sustainability in New Mexico, however, is the ultimate goal of both the program and the co-op.

“It’s great to be focusing on New Mexico, since our landscape poses so many challenges for agriculture,” said Cannata-Winge. “But I hope students find success in whatever endeavor they pursue. Sometimes we start out in one place and end up in another. It’s important to us that students can concentrate on studying and find happiness in who they are.”

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