Locally Owned, Organically Grown

It’s time to vote for your new Board Members.

Yes, it’s that time again— time to elect your new Co-op Board Members! This year there are four open seats on the Board of Directors.

Just what do Board members do for the Co-op?  A vital, efficient, and effective Board of Directors is necessary to provide guidance and leadership to keep the Co-op healthy, active, productive, and responsive to Owners’ needs.  The Board employs the principles of policy governance to focus on big-picture issues in order to evaluate and help plan for the future of the Co-op without managing day-to-day operations.

We asked each candidate about their interest in becoming a Co-op Board member (see answers below). Information on each candidate will also be available in the store. Use the ballot (below) to select your choices for open Board Member positions.

Click here for printable ballot

Ballots must reach the Co-op by Friday, April 26th. If you happen to miss this deadline you will be allowed to submit your ballot at the Annual Meeting on April 27th. One vote per Owner number, please.  We’ll have a ballot box at the front of the store, or you can choose to mail your ballot.  New Board members will be announced at the Annual Meeting.


If you have any questions about the election process or what the Board does please contact our current Board Members at board@naturalharvest.coop.

Board Policies & ENDS

Each candidate was asked to answer a series of questions.

See their answers below:

  1. Why would you like to serve on the Board of Directors of Natural Harvest Food Co-op?
  2. Describe any volunteer or paid experiences relevant to your service as a co-op board member. What skills or experience will you bring to the board?
  3. What opportunities and challenges do you see in the future of Natural Harvest?
  4. Other Comments.


Stephen Levchak (Chisholm, MN)

1.)  The opportunity to run for a position on the Board of Directors of Natural Harvest Food Co-op is something that I am very excited about. The Co-op has given me so much throughout the years, and now I want to be able to give back by serving on the Board. I value healthy living, a sustainable environment, and being part of a community. These ideals are what our Co-op is all about. I’m ready to put in the time, energy, and hard work to govern effectively and represent every Owner.


2.) I received a Bachelor’s degree from UMD in Teaching Earth and Space Science and operated the Alworth Planetarium for four years while attending college. I did much to ensure it remained a valuable local asset through educational and community outreach work. My current work as a control room operator at Hibbing Taconite, where I have worked since 2006, involves collaborating with people from multiple departments in order to keep the production process running smoothly. In both capacities, I visualized the big picture in order to see how different actions could affect the overall results and goals. My experience and skills will be valuable as I work with other Board members to insure the Co-op’s long-term success.


3.) Speaking of success, the Co-op is well-positioned to remain at the forefront of the healthy living and organic movement in our area. More people are becoming concerned about their health, their food, and the sustainability of the planet. We have great opportunities to further increase ownership, provide the products and services our communities want, and be an educational resource for those who choose a healthy way of life. A challenge to this, however, is the wider availability and decreased prices of organic and natural food products at other food retailers. In this very competitive market, it is of the utmost importance that we use the skills, resources, and reputation of the Co-op to stay one step ahead and offer what larger stores cannot: a sense of belonging through ownership, knowledgeable staff, and great service and local product selection in a welcoming atmosphere.


4.) Most importantly, I want the Co-op to succeed. It is an invaluable asset to our community, our friends and family, and ourselves. I would be honored to be given the opportunity to serve on the Board of Directors to continue the long-standing record of excellence Natural Harvest is known for.


Robyn Athmann (Tower, MN)

1.)  I would love to serve on the Board of Directors of Natural Harvest Food Co-op! The wonderful foods and products at NHFC have been weekly staples for my family since moving to the Northwoods  3 ½ years ago.


2.) I am a lifelong student of, and lifestyle adapter to, achieving optimal health through natural organic foods and through a healthy sustainable lifestyle. I love to encourage others. I completely support the values of the Co-op and would enjoy contributing to the success of future visions and goals. I believe I bring the passion, experiences, and eagerness to learn to do so. I have had the great fortune to experience creating visions, setting goals, developing plans, and hiring, training, and mentoring employees. Most personally rewarding was achieving success as a team. I miss it! I bring 25 years  of experience working for a large healthcare company with values I also completely supported.


3.) I look forward to learning about challenges the Co-op faces and to participating on the Board and with members to overcome them. I believe NHFC has tremendous opportunity to advance its benefits more broadly to our community and I would love to participate and support this through membership on the Board of Directors.


Jenna Asuma (Gilbert, MN)

1.) As a former employee of Natural Harvest, I absolutely loved my job and being a part of something that I passionately believe in, (sustainable agriculture, organic food, local community and non-toxic living.) The first time I walked through the door, I still remember the feeling of being inspired. I signed up to be an owner that very day, and now my hope is to continue to be a part of Natural Harvest’s mission that I have believed in since the beginning. Even though an unexpected opportunity has taken me down a different career path, being able to serve on the Board of Directors would again grant me the ability to be a part of the Co-op that I love so much.


2.) I worked at Natural Harvest for a year and half, and it was such a memorable experience. To me, it was much more than just learning the operations of a Co-op. It was being able to connect with like-minded individuals- both co-workers and customers alike, meet and get to know our local farmers, and continually refresh my own knowledge on a wide range of store products and anything pertaining to the health and wellness field.

I am a very passion driven person, which is what initially led me to pursuing a position as an employee, and now as a board member. I am dedicated, and will work hard to effectively represent all owners. I am ambitious and motivated, so my objective is to ensure the sustainability and success of Natural Harvest. I love being a part of a great team and collaborating with others to come up with innovative ideas, and ultimately put those ideas into action.


3.) It is my strong belief that the future opportunities for Natural Harvest are endless. As more research is continually being published, consumers are taking charge and educating themselves on how food impacts our health, lifestyle changes, natural remedies, the negative effects toxic chemicals have on us and our planet, and more. That leaves Natural Harvest with unlimited opportunities to learn, grow and adapt as a Co-op, to facilitate these positive lifestyle changes that we, as consumers, are making.

Of course, with growth comes challenges. Natural Harvest is still a smaller Co-op with big competitors. But, as history has revealed, Natural Harvest has succeeded again and again, despite challenges, and I am confident that will continue because we are a Co-op, and our values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity are what sets us apart.


Kelsey Gantzer (Virginia, MN)

1.)  I would like to serve on the NHFC Board because I believe in the mission and values that the Co-op promotes: creating a sense of community, access to healthy products, vibrant local economy, and informing members about both cooperative principles and personal & environmental health. The Co-op provides so many opportunities in our community for both individuals and businesses, and I want to give my time to serve the community through the Co-op.


2.)  I have experience serving on the board of a philanthropic organization, volunteering with a health-focused nonprofit for youth, and working in non-profit organizations that are board overseen, including serving as the staff liaison to the board. In both my experience on a board and as an employee, I created and managed organizational budgets, prepared audit documents, and developed strategic plans. In my current role as the Rutabaga Project Manager, I am working towards making healthy, local food accessible to everyone in the Iron Range. Through my relationships with local farmers, I understand some of the opportunities and challenges that NHFC faces in serving their members and will utilize that knowledge to help guide the Co-op into the future.


3.)  NHFC has both the challenge and opportunity of working with our local farmers and producers to provide local, healthy food to our community. While the Iron Range isn’t currently producing enough food to feed ourselves, we have in the past and can move towards that direction in the future. NHFC provides a wonderful place for people to connect with each other around health and nutrition, and has the opportunity to continue to expand as a community hub. My experience with the NHFC has been as a member, and I look forward to learning all of the challenges the Co-op faces and turning those challenges into opportunities for the Co-op to grow.


4.)  I am excited by the potential of serving on the NHFC board through the Policy Governance Model! I hope to be able to work with others to foster a healthy and strong Co-op in Virginia.


Jenna Dickinson (Aurora, MN)

1.) I would like to serve on the Board of Directors at the Natural Harvest Food Co-op for a few different reasons.

First; I am an active endurance athlete, outdoor enthusiast, and practicing yogi. These hobbies have been very beneficial to my mind-body-and soul and I would like to share these with our Iron Range Community. I would like to see Natural Harvest host more outdoor classes as am very proficient in cross-country skiing, mountain biking, and trail running. As a Division I athlete I have an extensive background in coaching and competing in these three areas. Food is the start to a healthy body and I believe adding these classes to a special place like the Co-op will help others to heal the mind-body and soul, and start them on a continuing pattern for life.

Second; I am a mother, preschool teacher, and advocate for exposing children to healthy food options. My daughter is 2 and a half and was put on a gluten free diet at the age of one and a half. It was a difficult challenge at first but with research, alternative food options, and discipline we as a family became grateful for her gluten intolerance. It has forced us to plan healthy options beforehand wherever we are going and to be very mindful of the food going into our bodies. Eisa (our daughter) has had to be an advocate for her own body wherever she is. I would like the Co-op to provide more classes and events geared to children. They are our future and if they can get a handle on their health as their mind is developing, I feel like the sky is the limit! As a preschool teacher, I see day in and day out the food we are providing for our youth and I can say “It is not great”. Let us educate our youth as they are their own biggest advocates and they can make the biggest changes in our systems!

Third; I would like to be on the Board of Directors to enhance my own health by being held responsible to educate myself through community classes that are offered within the Co-op.


2.) I have many skills that I will bring to the board. My education experience includes; Completing a Masters degree in Education, and a B.S. in human development with a double minor in exercise science and nutrition. My teaching experience includes nine years at the elementary and pre-school level. I have coached an array of endurance sports at various levels, including; high school students, college students, Duluth Nordic Ski Club members, summer camps through the Loppet Foundation based out of Minneapolis, mountain bike camps through Spirit Mountain, and was selected to coach the Midwest junior national Nordic team in Salt Lake City, Utah. This winter I have been helping out with the MYSL Nordic program. I am an avid yogi and practice yoga with my preschool students and my daughter.  As an athlete my entire life, I have been very aware of how important nutrition is. I say these are my strengths because when the body is properly fueled and in good physical health the spirit can thrive. I try every day to be an example of this to my family and students. I would now like to extend this example to the community I love. I truly believe that if we can provide our community with healthy food options and an experience in physical culture, they will have the tools to reach a more peaceful place: mind, body, soul. I would like to share my knowledge of physical and nutritional health with the community I have grown up in – The Iron Range.


3.)  I see many opportunities and challenges in the future for Natural Harvest. Here are some opportunities: First; I think more and more people are realizing the importance of eating local and organic food. People are healing their bodies with their diets and are vocalizing that. Second; people are wanting to become more physically fit and are wanting to do this in different ways. Families are looking for activities to do together out in nature. Third; there are (and will be in the future) mountain bike trails being built all across the Iron Range, and endurance sports are becoming more popular with high school kids. I say these things are opportunities for Natural Harvest because as people look to heal their bodies with nutrition and get more physically fit, Natural Harvest could provide more family classes, kid friendly classes, and build a stronger community. Mountain biking changed the Crosby-Ironton community for the better, and they have benefitted as a result. I believe this type of change will benefit our community too. If we provide the community with resources to venture out onto the trails, they will likely venture back to the Co-op to shop.

4.) Some challenges that I see Natural Harvest facing; Most grocery stores now provide an organic food section, there are more stores coming into our community, and people are more and more interested in gardening on their own. If Natural Harvest engages the community in mind, body, and soul; people will have the opportunity to bypass the grocery store chains and select a place where not only healthy food is sold, but where the members actually care about their well-being. If we educate our youth on the importance of nutrition and a fit body they will hopefully become lifelong Co-op members!


John Byers (Side Lake, MN)

1.)  I’m a big fan of the Co-op and its mission. Over the past few years, through my own personal experiences and studying food and lifestyle, I’ve learned just how far diet and lifestyle choices go in terms of preventing and even reversing chronic disease, including heart disease, the leading cause of premature death. This topic has become an area of passion in my life. When the opportunity arises, seems appropriate and welcome, I enjoy engaging in conversations related to this topic with hopes of inspiring others to take an interest and start, or accelerate, their own journey to improved health. Like many of us, I feel better about my own life when I’m able to add value to the lives of others. I feel like I have a lot to offer the members of the Co-op by sharing my passion and knowledge in the area of diet and lifestyle and its power to positively affect health. There are a lot of different schools of thought on the optimal diet and over the course of the past few years I’ve decided for myself the foods and lifestyle choices which seem optimal. However, I also recognize that the members of the board serve the members and not themselves. As such, the opinions of the board members have no place in governing the Co-op or dictating the direction of the Co-op. In fact, the members/owners have this power. However, the board can help build member engagement, inspire a curiosity amongst members to learn, and provide opportunities for healthy conversation and education to its members. Together, we can build a healthier community. I would like to be part of that mission and serve the members of Natural Harvest Food Co-op.


2.) I have previously served a two-year term on one board for a non-profit enterprise engaged in the business of counseling and mediation. I completed an MBA from the Carlson School of Management and in 1996, founded Byers Media, a web design and development agency, and continue to serve as its managing director. I’m well-versed in Policy Management which serves as the guideline for boards to follow. I have a passion for, knowledge of and practical experience with diet and lifestyle interventions to improve health and wellness.


3.) To continue and build member engagement, as well as members’ food and wellness knowledge, and to inspire members to play a more active role in their own health and wellness journey.


4.) I’m excited to be considered as a board member and to help direct the Co-op which provides a vital role in our area.


Kristin Dosan (Eveleth, MN)

1.) I would like to be on the Board of Directors at Natural Harvest Co-op because I feel that the Co-op is a vital part of our community. I love to see the excitement of new members as they discover all that our Co-op has to offer, and I would love to be a part of what that represents. My family greatly benefits from our Co-op, and I would love the opportunity to help keep the Co-op growing and improving for our members, old and new.


2.) I feel that I would bring a balance between family and business perspectives. For many years I have served on booster groups at my kids’ high school. I am currently the vice president on both the Eveleth-Gilbert high school football and softball parent boosters. I have helped hold several fundraising events, as well as help build community support.

I am a supervisor at Blue Cross Blue Shield, and have participated in many work groups collaborating with others on projects with a common objective. I believe in gathering many different perspectives before coming to a solution to give the most thought out and well- balanced result.


3.) A challenge that I see in the future of our Co-op is continuing to engage members. I feel that valuing member feedback and input will help the Co-op grow. Our members have some great thoughts, and fresh ideas and if we can try to incorporate those as much as possible I feel members will feel even more connected to their Co-op.

View All Events »
The Harvest Beet Spring 2019 What's Inside?

Time to Vote! Board Member Election ❦ From a Handful of Owners to Almost 4,000 – 40 Years of Growth! ❦  Board Report ❦ Change Within Reach Report ❦ Spring Classes at the Co-op ❦ Pioneer & Long Term Owner Gathering ❦ Owner Appreciation Day

... and much more