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2023 Nominee of the ATHENA Organizational Leadership Award

Nominees for the ATHENA Organizational Leadership Award are businesses and organizations that:

  • Create an organizational culture that encourages women employees to achieve their full leadership potential

  • Give back to the larger community of women and girls by providing and/or supporting leadership development opportunities and initiatives

Letters of Recommendation:

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My Story

Our Story

 

It all started in a small community with a big need. 

 

While working in the local schools as a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant, Terra Haisley had no intention of adding more to her already full schedule.  Preparing for an empty nest and anticipating the birth of her first grandchild, Haisley was ready for things to slow down in the next season of life.

 

However, Terra started noticing an increase in children with anxiety, depression, emotional outbursts, developmentally delayed motor skills, inappropriate social skills, and struggling to pay attention in class. And these were the children who were receiving no special services or additional support.

 

When looking for resources to help parents and educators address the rising need, Haisley realized the recurring “prescription” was getting children outdoors, moving, and playing. 

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The research was convincing but difficult to implement with time constraints in the school setting, safety concerns of unsupervised play, and families’ busy schedules. 

 

Using her occupational therapy training and ability to analyze activities for their therapeutic value, Terra set out to create a program that addressed the increasing needs of the children in her community. Collaborating with child development professionals, community members, and of course, children, TerraTime was created in 2018. 

 

TerraTime is an invitation to Experience the Wonder; where children receive the therapeutic benefits of extended time in nature and learning wears the disguise of play.

 

Since its inception, TerraTime has welcomed over 170 children into its programs, providing them with the support they need to overcome challenges and nurture a wonder-filled curiosity about life.

 

TerraTime is more than just a place of wonder for children - it's also a community that offers education and support for families through parent emails, personal conversations, and online resources.

 

TerraTime also serves as a platform where women, both on their team and in the wider community, discover avenues for leadership growth and mentorship. Over the past five years, TerraTime has welcomed 20 remarkable women to the TerraTime team, and since 2022, has provided guidance to women in launching their own nature classrooms or businesses.

 

TerraTime's journey from a small community with a big need to a thriving haven of wonder and support has been nothing short of remarkable.

 

Their dedication to the well-being of children and families has not only transformed lives but has also created a flourishing community of empowerment and leadership for women.

 

Moving forward in its mission, TerraTime continues to write stories filled with laughter, hope, and inspiration and looks forward to many more chapters of making a lasting impact on the lives it touches.

Kid Tested

 

"TerraTime is awesome! Not just amazing. Awesome!"
Evelyn | Six Years Old


"TerraTime is like kid-heaven. A lot messier then the real heaven, but still perfect for us!" Ari | Eight Years Old 

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Parent Approved

 

"TerraTime is amazing! My daughter asks me often, “When do I get to go to TerraTime next?” We have the dates on the calendar and she checks it A LOT. Christmas is the only thing that comes close to this level of excitement in her life!"  Kristin | Parent of 8-year-old


"TerraTime is what summer should be about! I love that my child has the opportunity to experience some of the things I did when I was a child." Natalie | Parent of 9-year-old


"I am so thankful my son got to participate in TerraTime. I think of each of the leaders as a blessing. They all genuinely care about my son and have an understanding for his special needs. TerraTime has been such a great thing for him."  Laurie | Parent of 7-year-old

A Mom's Perspective

"...there have been many more stories showcasing (my daughter's) leadership skills acquired from TerraTime but one in particular really cemented how years of TerraTime’s consistent influence has built her problem-solving, teamwork and leadership skills far beyond what I had even comprehended..."

 

Dear Athena Awards Committee,

My purpose of this letter is to share my personal experiences and the ongoing passion TerraTime devotes to encouraging leadership development in our girls. I am a wife and mom of three. My two older children have been attending programs at TerraTime since 2019.

When my children first started attending TerraTime, one of the first changes I noticed was in my daughter. She was born with a congenital limb difference. She was four years old at that time, an age in which she was becoming much more aware of the fact that she looked different than the other kids and that it hurt to have people turn away from her because of that or notice that kids are being hushed by their adults when trying to ask questions.

 

After a couple months of attending TerraTime, my daughter asked my on the way home if she could take a book that was special to her to TerraTime next week so that her and Ms. Terra could read it to her friends. This particular book was about limb differences and how she could do everything anyone else could. Up until this time, it was a book she had not wanted to share but found solace in. While we continued our conversation she informed me that she felt safe and was finally excited to share this with her TerraTime friends. She had expressed that they were always told they could ask questions and were guided to not only listen and be inclusive, but for all sides to grow and learn for all parties involved. That next week, my daughter walked out of TerraTime, book tucked under her arm, with a large grin, a massive confidence boost and a lesson in understanding that stuck with her.

As my daughter has grown older there have been many more stories showcasing her leadership skills acquired from TerraTime but one in particular really cemented how years of TerraTime’s consistent influence has built her problem-solving, teamwork and leadership skills far beyond I had even comprehended at that point.

 

We are a homeschooling family with multiple grades, personalities and interests. Last spring, we were in a funk. Everyone was discouraged. Things were not going smoothly at all. We, as a family, decided to take a break for a few days, get out in nature and sit down and talk about what was working and not working. After a few days of rest, we sat down individually with each child to have a discussion about what they thought was going well, what wasn’t working for them, if they had any ideas they would like to implement into our day, et cetera.

 

All of my children had input and good conversations during these ‘meetings’ but I was not prepared for my daughter's commitment to our planned discussion. She had taken time to really think about what was important to her, problem solved a way to start our school days out with a walk to, in her works ‘calm our minds and get us out in nature before we do schoolwork”, and was willing to compromise timelines on her end to make a plan that worked for her and her siblings. Throughout the conversation, it was evident her mind and ideas had been nurtured, cultivated, and grown at TerraTime. TerraTime has always stated that they are there to intervene if needed but that they are very much dedicated to child-driven play, exploration and learning. The growth in our children is a true testament of the wonderful work being done.

One part of TerraTime that has been an added blessing to our family is the communication with parents. After each session, all parents are emailed a summary of the day. This includes what happened throughout their day, fantastic quotes overhead from the kids, a list of educational standards related to the day's activities as well as a section on continuing the learning at home. This section of the weekly email has impacted my parenting style greatly. It has encouraged me to rewire my brain to see how all of our schooling, extracurriculars and adventures are interconnected and, when treated as continuations of each other, can elevate our children's education and learning opportunities to higher levels.

 

Some of my favorite additions from the emails are prompted conversation starters to extend their experiences from TerraTime along with research articles for both parents and children, educational resources that we can all do as a family. One of my particular favorites was an educational video on the proper way to hold snakes. They took it to heart, we are now educated and I only slightly internally cringe when I hear “look what I caught mom”, a huge improvement!

I cannot recommend TerraTime enough to parents looking for an immersive, wholesome and educational experience for their children. TerraTime not only provides a sanctuary for our children to be children through play, nature and discovery but allows them to learn and grow through risk-taking.

TerraTime’s advertising material states “Experience the Wonder”, the true wonder is experiencing the growth, imagination, intrapersonal skills, confidence, team building and most notably the cognitive awareness that TerraTime instills and strengthens in our children.

I look forward to speaking with you more about TerraTime and the commitment to encouraging the growth of our girls' confidence, social skills, problem-solving, teamwork and leadership skills. I whole-heartedly believe that my daughter will take skills she has been taught and practiced at TerraTime throughout her personal and professional life.

 

Sincerely,

Kimberlie High
 

A Mom's Perspective

A Team Member's Perspective

"One of my favorite parts of TerraTime is failure. Yes, failure... Permission to fail in turn equals permission to learn and grow. Learning to grow from failures is one of the beautiful blessings of working at TerraTime."

 

To Whom It May Concern:

My name is Mikayla Rainho and I am thrilled TerraTime was nominated for this year’s Athena Award. I started as a volunteer at TerraTime in the summer of 2020 and then transitioned from a Guide to a Senior Guide where I have been for the last three years. As a Senior Guide, it is my joy to supervise children while they learn and play in our outdoor classroom.

One of my favorite parts of TerraTime is failure. Yes, failure. I know failure is not typically seen as a positive trait in a leader, but I am here to tell you it is one of the biggest blessings of working at TerraTime.

 

As an employee, I, along with the students, have been given permission to fail. Terra (the director and lead teacher at TerraTime) has created a safe environment to fail as she praises the effort needed to overcome nerves and to try something new.

 

When I fail, I am given feedback in a respectful manner, with the intent for me to strive to be successful in the future. To me, a leader acknowledges and accepts failure, seeing failing as the first attempt in learning. Permission to fail in turn equals permission to learn and grow. Learning to grow from failures is one of the beautiful blessings of working at TerraTime.

Staff members are not the only leaders at TerraTime. There are multiple young leaders within the classroom. Some days it's the quiet students who bravely speak during circle time, on other occasions it’s a student volunteering to teach a new game to the class. Simultaneously, it is also the older students who take a moment to assist a friend.

 

No matter what situation arises, TerraTime is a place where children are empowered to make their own decisions, engage in risky play, have autonomy over their bodies, and are trusted. Historically, these skills have been reserved for boys. At TerraTime, all children are encouraged to take risks and make decisions. These traits manifest into young adult leaders who have the confidence to lead, ability to assess the value of risks, follow and set firm boundaries and gain the trust of their peers in a genuine manner.

While children are at TerraTime, they are strengthening the crucial skills needed to be a leader. Throughout their child-led play, children are enhancing their communication and critical thinking abilities. One authentic way the students experience this is by initiating problem solving strategies with each other. As staff members, we try not to rob students of the opportunity to problem solve and only intervene when a child invites us to use teamwork as a way to solve their problem together.

 

It is a wonderful experience to watch students of various ages come up with a solution and be able to do so in a way that demonstrates respect for themselves, others and property.

In summary, TerraTime is so much more than an outdoor classroom. It is a place where girls and boys, in their unique way, discover their own leadership abilities. I am forever grateful for Terra as she has modeled how to lead with grace, compassion, and strength. The children who attend TerraTime are going to be tomorrow’s leaders and I can’t wait to witness their many wonderful accomplishments and contributions to our community.

Sincerely,


Mikayla Rainho - Senior Guide

A Team Member's Perspective
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A Mom-Turned-Blog-Writer's Perspective

"Even the fact that she considered and thought of me gave me such a confidence booster. Terra gave me a lot of freedom while kindly guiding me through my writing. I enjoyed adding "Blog Writer" to my list of life experiences while also teaming up with a woman I greatly admire."

 

Dear Women in Business Unlimited/Panel of Judges,

 

My name is Sarah Kramer, and I live in Muncie, Indiana. I support the nomination of Terra Haisley of Albany's TerraTime Nature Play & Learning for the ATHENA award. My three elementary-aged children have participated in the TerraTime Program since 2020. I also held the position of Terra Time Blog Writer for a season.

 

My gratitude for Terra's Program is endless, so our family continues to participate in her multiple and inventive programs. I along with Terra and other women leaders within Terra Time, have witnessed the immense growth of my children as a result of this program.

 

Initially, my boys struggled with sensory issues, but they now love to get dirty and explore the wonders of Terra's Wooded Fairy-like land. My youngest daughter. Paisley, now loves bugs and worms and making mud pies. This program has also helped my children socially speaking. They have developed and nourished many special friendships. I couldn't be more grateful.

 

I also now consider Terra, a dear friend. We have gotten together as friends outside of Terra Time. She is always ready to encourage me.

 

Terra also approached me regarding a blog writing position for Terra Time. Even the fact that she considered and thought of me gave me such a confidence booster. Terra gave me a lot of freedom while kindly guiding me through my writing. I enjoyed adding "Blog Writer" to my list of life experiences while also teaming up with a woman I greatly admire. It was easy to write for TerraTime as it's easy to talk about something you enjoy and appreciate.

 

Since our family has been a part of Terra Time for three years now, I have enjoyed observing different women leaders within her program whom Terra carefully selected and collaborated with. One particular woman I have watched gained confidence in teaching children, spilling over into other community programs she uniquely provides for local children. And now, my children participate in her program, too, which involves programming and coding,

 

It's also evident how many little girls have gained confidence in exploring the outdoors I've seen their friendships deepen. I've watched my daughter develop a love for the outdoors and inventing fun playing opportunities

 

I am a homeschooling mother, and I genuinely enjoy it. Still, TerraTime also provides a time to rest and accomplish my to-do list faster and quieter while I know my children are being encouraged at Terra Time. I am a better mother, wife, and teacher because of TerraTime.

 

Again, I am so happy to have seen, over three years ago, a Friend (also a Muncie Woman Leader) share on social media about her daughter participating in Terra Time. I instantly saw the great value for children in a program like this.

 

Terra is a wonderful person and a gift to our community and families. She has an entrepreneur's mind with a big heart, which, for me, is the best kind of business owner you can ask for. I am excited to see what else she has up her sleeve, and I will always be a big cheerleader for my dear friend.

 

Feel free to contact me for more information or a chat; I already talk to anyone and everyone about TerraTime.

 

You will not regret selecting Terra of Terra Time as a winner of the ATHENA award. The world, especially the outdoors, is better because of Terra.

 

Sincerely,

 

Sarah R. Kramer

A Mom-Turned-Blog Writer's Perspective

A Female Entrepreneur's Perspective

"...Terra effortlessly offers wisdom to me. Her support always comes at a time when I am overwhelmed and wondering, “Can I really do this?”  She would offer valid solutions to each challenge and I always left with a feeling of “I can do this.”"

Dear Athena Nominations Committee:  

 

It is my sincerest honor to nominate TerraTime, Nature Play and Learning (an outdoor classroom in Albany Indiana) for the WIBU ATHENA ORGANIZATIONAL LEADERSHIP AWARD. Created in 2018, TerraTime has provided over 170 children with the support they need to overcome challenges and nurture a wonder-filled curiosity about life.

 

It all started in a small community with a big need. While working in the local schools as a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant, Terra Haisley started noticing an increase in children with anxiety, depression, emotional outbursts, developmentally delayed motor skills, inappropriate social skills, and struggling to pay attention in class. 

 

When looking for resources to help parents and educators address the rising need, Haisley realized the recurring “prescription” was getting children outdoors, moving, and playing. The research was convincing but difficult to implement with time constraints in the school setting, safety concerns of unsupervised play, and families’ busy schedules. 

 

Using her occupational therapy training and ability to analyze activities for their therapeutic value, Terra set out to create a program that addressed the increasing needs of the children in her community. Collaborating with child development professionals, community members, and of course, children, TerraTime was created.

 

Over the past five years, TerraTime has welcomed 20 remarkable women to work together to build a community offering education and support for families.  

 

During a presentation for WIBU Catalyst in 2019, I met Terra Haisley.  We met for coffee and soon after, she became an inspiring mentor as I launched Bridlewood Crossings (an equestrian learning center).  During monthly mentoring conversations, Terra effortlessly offers wisdom to me. Her support always comes at a time when I am overwhelmed and wondering, “Can I really do this?”  She would offer valid solutions to each challenge and I always left with a feeling of “I can do this.” 

 

TerraTime is an example of a woman-owned business empowering:
 

  • 86 young women to develop a sense of wonder; 

  • her team of 20 women to dream big dreams; and 

  • women in our community to take the step toward addressing our biggest needs.    

 

Won’t you join me in telling our community about a wonderful outdoor classroom for our children?  Won’t you join me in inspiring other women to listen to the needs in their own communities and start a movement or organization to address those needs?   

 

I cannot imagine another organization at this time, more deserving of this WIBU ATHENA ORGANIZATIONAL LEADERSHIP AWARD than TerraTime.  

 

Sincerely,

 

Stephanie D. Wilson, CEO/Founder
Bridlewood Crossings, LLC.  

Entreprneur's Perspective

The internationally recognized, ATHENA Leadership Award® program was introduced in St. Charles County in 1987. The program exists to support the development of women in leadership roles. The ATHENA Award® was inspired by the goddess of Greek mythology known for her strength, courage, wisdom, and enlightenment—qualities embodied in the ATHENA leadership model. The Award is unique in both scope—local, national and international—and the ATHENA mission upon which it is based.

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