At Work with Terry Atteberry
This post is part of our #HGatWork series, giving you an inside look at the people behind our work and the leaders who further our mission to empower kids to develop lifelong healthy habits.
Terry Atteberry, Healthy Schools Program Manager in Missouri, joined Healthier Generation nearly three years ago after serving as the Eldon School District Wellness Coordinator. With a passion for wellness and a welcoming demeanor, Terry is an engaged advocate for healthy schools. When Terry’s not helping school communities create healthier environments, she’s walking her Australian Shepard, practicing yoga, or spending time with family. Read on to learn more about Terry and what drives her to create a healthy future for all.
What inspired you to work for Healthier Generation?
Before my work with Healthier Generation, I was the Eldon School District wellness coordinator. I was passionate about creating a healthier lifestyle with the students that I worked with daily. From walking and running with the students, to learning to garden with them and creating taste tests – it’s always been about teaching students healthier habits.
Healthier Generation provided ongoing support and resources for our program. During this time, I had the chance to serve as an ambassador for Healthier Generation. This role allowed me to have a voice across the state on behalf of the organization and the great work we had established in the Eldon School District. I had the chance to see the many moving parts that impact the vital work of the organization. It eventually led to the work that I do today at Healthier Generation.
I recently became a grandma for the first time and this work has become even more meaningful to me as I think of my grandson’s future. I am committed to this mission so that he and other children can live a long, healthy, and active life.
What does a typical work day look like for you?
I love the sunrise, so I rise early to enjoy a cup of coffee and a walk with my Australian Shepherd as the sun is just coming up. It is then on to a brisk 3-mile walk or jog. On Mondays and Wednesdays, I can be found at a local yoga class with an outstanding group of ladies. Afterwards, I always enjoy a healthy breakfast.
On a typical day, I work from home or I am traveling to schools across the state of Missouri. When I’m home, I am on the computer or phone, so I incorporate as much physical activity as possible. This includes short walks throughout the day with my dog, stretching or often taking walking phone conversations. To make sure I stay hydrated, I keep my 40-ounce thermos close.
I love the days I get to travel across the beautiful state of Missouri. I spend much of this time in thought and preparation for the upcoming training or merely enjoying the countryside. If you have never been to Missouri, you should come to visit us!
What are you working on right now that really excites you?
I am currently working on national recognition and celebrating successes with my school districts! These two items go hand in hand. Spring is when we encourage our schools to reflect on the great work and successes they have accomplished throughout the year and share those successes with their entire district and the community! I look forward to visiting the schools in the spring and allowing them to show off their outstanding achievements.
Many of these same schools are eligible to apply for national recognition as one of America’s Healthiest Schools. For the past couple of months, I have been working with these schools to provide support with the new recognition process for 2019. Regardless if the school is awarded, it is inspiring to see these schools eligible for the sustainable changes they have put in place to create healthier environments where their students learn, live, and play.
How do you collaborate with partner organizations?
I serve on behalf of Healthier Generation as an advisor for the Missouri Convergence Partnership (MCP). MCP is a coalition of Missouri foundations with a focus on equity and policy change around healthy eating and active living.
I also serve on the school workgroup with the Missouri Council of Activity and Nutrition (MOCAN). MOCAN fosters and supports healthy eating and active living through policy and environmental changes to measurably improve the health and quality of life of Missouri residents. Through statewide networking, we collaborate to implement policy, systems, and environmental change to improve physical activity and eating behaviors of Missourians.
What does working at Healthier Generation mean to you?
It means making a difference! It is incredible to be a part of something so much bigger than myself. I bring the reputation, the expertise, the knowledge, resources, support, and all of what Healthier Generation has to offer when I go to one of my schools. This is very reassuring to me and those that I work with.
Additionally, I have grown personally through this organization. The support and professional development have stretched and developed me to be a better version of myself.
What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment (personal or professional)?
My greatest personal accomplishment is running the New York City Marathon. I ran this marathon on behalf of Healthier Generation, raising over $6,500 to support healthier environments for children. It was incredible to run through the boroughs of New York City, with thousands of people cheering you on. Throughout the 26.2 miles I reminded myself why I was running and how many children were impacted by this decision. That reminder gave me the strength and ambition I needed to keep moving forward! It was my last marathon, but it felt good to go out with a bang.
My greatest accomplishment professionally would be the visit from President Bill Clinton to two of our Missouri schools at the St. Louis School District. Gateway Elementary and Gateway Michael Elementary schools have done outstanding work to create healthier environments for their students and staff, and each has been honored nationally as one of America’s Healthiest Schools. To have President Clinton choose these schools to visit was a tremendous honor. I was extremely proud to have them recognized in such an incredible way.
At Healthier Generation, we place a lot of emphasis on work-life balance and living a healthy lifestyle. How do you maintain a healthy balance and “walk the talk?”
I used to be an avid runner. I loved to run half and full marathons, until I suffered a debilitating knee injury. I now enjoy walking and hiking. My husband and I have recently started looking for new trails to hike while we are on vacation. I also enjoy yoga and Zumba. But my favorites are long walks with my dog, Kingston, and chasing after my grandson!
What do you enjoy the most about working at Healthier Generation?
The people! It is wonderful to work in an organization where we are on the same mission, regardless of our department or position. We support and believe in one another and the work we are doing, and are always there to lift each other up. It honestly does take a village, and we are all in this together. I could not do my job without the support of the other amazing folks at Healthier Generation and the great work they do every day!