Staff Spotlight: Tara Dunker

Tara Dunker
Tara Dunker
About Tara Dunker:
I was born and raised in Beatrice, Nebraska, where much of my family still lives, including my in-laws. After graduating high school in 2006, I moved to Lincoln to start my college career, deciding pretty early on to major in dietetics. Prior to my junior year at the university, I joined the Nebraska Air National Guard and served for six years - gaining lifelong friends and awesome work and travel experiences along the way. After graduating with my master’s degree, I worked as a clinical dietitian supporting and educating cardiac and ortho rehabilitation patients for two years.

What is your position at UNL?
Through the UNL 4-H Youth Development program, I work as the state program coordinator for a USDA grant-funded project called WeCook: Fun with Food and Fitness. The program targets Lincoln youth and their families at two underserved community sites. Youth participate in after school programs aimed at improving cooking skills, nutrition knowledge, and physical fitness.

What drew you to UNL?
I had great experiences with both my college instructors and the university community as a whole while completing my degrees, so I was very excited to come back as a staff member.

What aspect of working in an educational setting do you enjoy the most?
My favorite aspect of working in an educational setting (especially a higher education setting) is the investment made in the personal growth and professional development of every team member.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My greatest achievement so far is finding a life partner who challenges me to think outside the box and pursue my interests - both personally and professionally. He has been the most influential person in my life, and I’m grateful for the ways in which he makes me a better version of myself.

What is something that most people don't know about you?
As a dietitian, I think a lot of people would be surprised to know that I like “junk food” just as much as anybody else. The key is balance.

What is your life like outside of work?
Outside of work, I spend much of my time with my husband and our close family and friends. We recently bought an old home in the Country Club neighborhood and have enjoyed fixing it up - between the usual old home frustrations, of course. I like to go for walks and bike rides, but one of my favorite things to do is relax with a good book. I’m currently making my way through the John Grisham novels and would highly recommend them.