Welcome to our series, #WHYoming, brought to you in partnership by Kaumo Law.
We are highlighting people from around our communities and asking them a few questions. We want to learn a little about them and see why they chose this great state to raise their families, start their businesses, or simply to ask — Why Wyoming?
For this week’s #WHYoming, I had a chance to sit down with Laurie Carollo, an instructor of College and Career Readiness at Western Wyoming Community College in Green River. Laurie is also the Board Secretary for the Wild Sage Market, a natural food co-op with the goal of bringing a second grocery store to Green River.
Laurie has lived in Green River for 20 years and raised both of her children here. Her husband, Marty, is a Green River native, while Laurie is originally from California. At this point in her life, she can’t imagine living anywhere else.
This community series is brought to you by:
Laurie, what do you do for a living?
I’m an instructor of College and Career Readiness at Western Wyoming Community College in Green River. I assist students who want a High School Equivalency Certificate by helping them prepare for the HiSET test and for the next steps after graduation.
How did you get into this field?
I truly lucked into this field when a friend in my current position was moving and suggested I apply. Even though I didn’t major in education, I had some skills and experience that fit nicely with this position. I’ve enjoyed helping students reach their goals for about 13 years now!
Can you tell me a bit about the Wild Sage Market?
Wild Sage Market is currently a group of people trying to open a natural food store in Green River. It is a food cooperative, which means that much of the capital needed to open the store will come from its many member-owners. This is why the most common message you are hearing from us is, “Please join us!” Members join by purchasing a one-time member equity share.
The Wild Sage Market organizers felt that our community was lacking convenient access to local and organic foods. Because various natural food chains hadn’t shown any interest in coming to Green River, a couple of individuals started looking into other ways to create such a store. As word spread about a grassroots effort to open a natural food store, interested folks jumped in and helped to get us where we are today.
My official role is Board Secretary, which entails a lot of behind the scenes organizing and record keeping. We all pitch in wherever needed as our schedules allow, but now that we are growing, we are creating teams to increase our efficiency.
What stage are you currently at in bringing a second grocery store to Green River?
We are currently in Stage 1, in which the focus is growing our member and volunteer bases, and establishing feasibility. The movement from one stage to the next relies primarily on membership numbers, so community support and investment is absolutely crucial to moving forward. Little by little we’re ticking off the boxes, including the market study that will help determine feasibility. We are excited that the study should be done sometime this spring. Our goal is to reach 300 members and move into Stage 2 by the end of the year.
This month is a great time to purchase a member equity share, because during our “Take the Leap” campaign new members who join in February can pick up a complimentary loaf of Wild Sage Sourdough at Daily Knead bakery in Green River! Our goal is to grow by 29 members in 29 days, which will help keep us on track to reach that year-end goal.
How did you end up in Green River?
I grew up in California. I met my husband Marty, a Green River native, when we both attended Humboldt State University in California. When we got married, he promised me that he wouldn’t move me to Green River! However, ten years of marriage and two children later, we decided that this would be a great place to raise our boys. We’ve been here for 20 years now!
What do you appreciate most about our community?
There are so many things I love. I really love that the community comes together to support each other in times of need. I love the slower pace here, compared to my home state. I love being able to go to the outskirts of town and freely run our dogs.
What is something unique about you?
I don’t enjoy cooking but spend a lot of time in the kitchen, because ironically the universe saw to it that I don’t get the luxury of using many convenience foods or eating out much. Three of us in my family have Celiac, which means we can’t eat anything with gluten (the protein in wheat, rye, barley and sometimes oats). It makes eating out extremely difficult, so I’m the weird one who brings her own food or often just doesn’t eat in those situations.
What are your some of your hobbies?
I thought that once I was an empty nester I would have time for my hobbies again, like gardening, crafting, scrapbooking, and reading. However, right now my hobby is Wild Sage Market!
If you could give one brief piece of advice, what would it be?
Do what you can to make a difference, whether it be small or large. It will not only make the world a better place, it will help give you purpose.
Where is your favorite place to hang out in Sweetwater County?
I’m very much a homebody, and I have an incredible view from my back deck where I’ve been able to take some great photos of the scenery and wildlife, so that’s where I like to hang out. I also love being at Soul Wellness Studio where I go for yoga.
Would you rather walk, ride a bike, take a horse, or drive a car?
I’d rather walk, because sunshine and fresh air are rejuvenating, and more exercise is a good thing.
What would you sing at karaoke night?
Major introvert here… you won’t find me doing karaoke! But if I had a temporary lapse of introvertness (it should be a word), it would probably be Have it All by Jason Mraz. It’s a catchy tune and I love the theme of wanting the best for others.
How would your friends describe you?
They’d probably describe me as a planner.
What is one of your proudest accomplishments?
That would have to be my kids. They’re both grown, and I’m extremely proud of the young men they have become.
Who would you want to play you in a movie about your life?
I don’t think that my life would make engaging movie material, but if someone were to embellish it a bit, probably Anna Kendrick. She’s quirky and funny, would accurately portray the awkwardness of the ‘bringing my own food’ scene, and would totally rock the scene where I toss my inhibitions aside and sing karaoke.
Why do you continue to live in Wyoming?
We like our life here and see no reason to leave right now. Both Marty and I have unfinished projects that we’d like to see to completion before we even think about relocating. We’ll probably never leave Wyoming entirely, but I have to admit that I’m looking forward to someday spending winters somewhere warmer!