Volunteer Spotlight: Hayley Estrem

Published by Feeding Matters on Apr 10, 2019

It is with a deep appreciation for the time, commitment, and passion of our dedicated advocates and volunteers that Feeding Matters is launching a monthly Q & A series. They help with events, participate on committees, and coach in our Power of Two program. The advocate and volunteer spotlights will share the stories of our growing network of change agents, the driving force behind our vision to create a world where children with pediatric feeding disorders will thrive.

As a registered nurse, Hayley’s primary research interests began with a desire to improve family-centered care for children with feeding problems and developmental disabilities. Since 2009, Hayley has been a member of UNC’s Feeding Flock, an interdisciplinary research team with a mission to partner with families to nurture young children with feeding difficulties. Hayley volunteers her time with Feeding Matters serving on committees dedicated to creating the educational program for our International Pediatric Feeding Disorder Conference and Poster Session.

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

I am originally from Troy, Missouri and grew up on a lovely farm with my grandparents as neighbors. I got my bachelor’s degree in Nursing in 2002 and was an RN in acute care adult settings for about eight years. Now, I have a PhD in Nursing so I get to do a combination of teaching and research that I find very satisfying. I have three boys, 12, 9, and 6 years old. We moved to the east coast in Wilmington, NC, just about 2 months before hurricane Florence. We were very fortunate that all was well with our home, and while repairs and recovery will be ongoing, it is a beautiful and resilient community! We are glad to be part of it.

How long have you been a volunteer with Feeding Matters?

Since 2011.

In which volunteer activities have you participated?

I was a parent volunteer member of the Treatment and Research committee in 2011. Later, after I had finished my doctorate and had experience in research, I was happy to be part of the planning committee for the first poster session at the 2017 conference, and was a member of the poster session committee for the 2019 conference as well as serving on the 2019 conference planning committee. Recently I joined the PFD Alliance as the Research Pillar Chair.

What motivated you to become involved with Feeding Matters?

I changed my career path when my son was born with serious feeding difficulty and a rare chromosome disorder. It was all pretty hard. There just weren’t resources that we needed to guide us. We struggled for a long time, and eventually found some of what we needed for my son when he was 2 years old (in 2008). Soon after that, I learned about Feeding Matters, and I also started my PhD program to do research with feeding and family care that would help other children and families to not have to experience the struggle. I got involved with Feeding Matters because I felt I shared the mission, and I appreciated that they were an organization started by parents. It is about the lived experience of caring for these infants and children day-to-day, as part of a family that has some other things to accomplish too. So, let’s aim for success in the family setting, with success defined by family members in partnership with healthcare providers!

What has been your favorite part of volunteering with Feeding Matters?

Interdisciplinary work and resources that are gathered. Seeing how Feeding Matters can help families.

What sets Feeding Matters apart from other organizations?

It brings professionals from all the disciplines involved with feeding care together in a place where parents and families have a strong voice.