Melissa graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Studies and over 300 hours of community service. Her areas of focus while attending FGCU were water quality, soil quality, and food sustainability. A large part of her education was rooted in the FGCU Food Forest and the permaculture movement; her exposure to the FGCU Food Forest spawned a relationship with grassroots movements, which helped her develop a sense of how important it is to build a community and regenerate the earth through Permaculture. Her undergraduate research on bioremediation with edible food plants grown on floating mats was completed at the Naples Botanical Gardens and was awarded first place from the Southwest Florida Regional Water Council.
While in Florida, she also mentored students through a course on contemplative living and taught painting sessions at a local art studio called Vino’s Picasso. Once she transitioned from Florida to Western North Carolina, she continued her teaching and sustainability stewardship role as a camp counselor for the Parks and Recreation outdoor adventure summer camp. Shortly after, she accepted and completed an Americorps Year of Service with Project Power at the Asheville Museum of Science. She is now working with the museum as a formal educator. She enjoys learning and exploring the local ecology, history, and environments of the Asheville area.