“Ten with the Team” will be a recurring post spotlighting Humane Society of Northeast Georgia (HSNEGA) staffers answering 10 questions to help you get to know them better. Today’s “Ten with the Team” is Kelley Uber Sterner, HSNEGA Volunteer & Outreach Manager who joined HSNEGA in October 2006.
1. Tell us briefly about your current position.
My role as Volunteer & Outreach Manager is to be the “community action” side of our organization. Most of our staff care for animals, but I have the lucky opportunity to make sure both people AND pets are cared for in our community. I visit schools with educational programs, represent HSNEGA at major outreach events, and work to share all the amazing things our organization is doing to generate awareness, volunteer interest and support of our facility.
2. What do you love most about your work?
I’ve always said I love animals and I love my pets, but what I REALLY enjoy is seeing people interact with animals and that’s what keeps me going in this field. I have seen the unconditional love and devotion of animals have the power to heal and strengthen us. I know as a non-classroom educator, I’ve seen students completely change in the presence of an animal… they calm down, retain information better, are kinder to each other. It’s magical to see the power of the human-animal bond each day at HSNEGA.
3. What accomplishment during your tenure makes you the most proud?
When I began at the HSNEGA, we had some great humane education initiatives, but I’m very proud to see how we’ve expanded our education and outreach program to include on-site youth camps, overnight programs, and quality adult programming for the community. I’ve presented with my good friend, Dezarae Jones-Hartwig of the Wisconsin Humane Society, for PetSmart Charities on the importance of a humane education programs for animal welfare organizations and served on the Board of Directors for the Association of Professional Humane Educators.
I think education is key to ending pet overpopulation and animal suffering, and I always think of a quote by Mike Arms, president of the Helen Woodward Animal Care Center, who said, “You may think you have the best shelter in the world, but if you do not have humane education, you don’t have anything.” I’m proud to be associated with a facility that recognizes the importance of education.
4. What is your most memorable story involving HSNEGA?
My wonderful friend, Kim Becker, celebrated finding out she was in remission from lymphoma by dropping off almost 500 pounds of dog and cat food for the animals. She and her husband, James, continue to do that on their survivorship anniversary and in June 2015 she will be celebrating four years of cancer free!
5. If you were to tell one person “Thank You!” for helping me become the person I am today, who would that be?
I would say my grandmother, Edith Ergle, is my biggest role model and, even though she might not admit it, I am who I am today because of her.
6. What mottos do you live by?
“For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.” – Sam Levenson
7. What inspires you?
Seeing over time that HSNEGA is making a change in our community for people and pets, especially with the younger generation. This field is one, like the American Cancer Society, where you don’t WANT to be around in 20, 50, or 100 years! So I’m glad we have some younger folks who are ready to make a difference for the animals!
8. What would you be doing if you weren’t in animal welfare?
I would go back to environmental education and work outdoors. The job of my dreams (and if I actually had talent!) would be an opera singer. I love opera!
9. How do you recharge?
Because animal welfare is such an emotionally draining field to work in, it’s really important to take time for yourself or you burn out quickly. I like to travel and get outdoors to recharge. Also, as someone who manages volunteers, I’m a big advocate for giving back to the community so I volunteer my own time whenever I can. Plus, I love music and the arts, so on the weekends I’m often off at a concert or enjoying something fun and cultural with friends!
10. What super power would you like to have?
To eat all the pizza in the world and never gain weight! Hmmm… I would say time travel. Not to change significant events, but to see loved ones again or meet historical figures in person.