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Eight years ago, when her daughter Abbi was in kindergarten at Rockford Elementary, Emily Perkes and her husband Alma volunteered to be involved in PTA.
Now Perkes is president-elect of the Idaho PTA, learning her duties from current state president Jana Lee Hatch of Blackfoot.
Later this month Perkes will travel to Washington, D.C., where she will be Idaho's representative for Parenting magazine's third annual Mom Congress on Education and Learning Conference.
"I had to write a 300-word essay on what I do to help the schools in my community," Perkes said of one of the things she did to qualify for her trip to meet national education leaders.
"My husband and I help in all our kids' classrooms," she added.
Five years after Perkes first volunteered, she served as Rockford Elementary's PTA president. Eventually she was asked to be on the region board, then as a regional director. Her region includes all the schools in Bingham County and north to the Montana state line. That includes Butte, Custer, Lemhi, Clark, Madison, Fremont and Teton counties.
"The purpose of PTA (the Parents & Teachers Association) everywhere is to advocate for all children, to make their home life and their school life better," Perkes said.
One of the challenges PTA faces, and something Perkes hopes to focus on when she becomes state president, is that membership in the organization has steadily declined.
"Everyone is so busy that asking them to do one more thing is hard," Perkes said.
Still, she said, membership is essential.
"Parent involvement makes a huge difference in their kids' education," she said.
"PTA is the largest volunteer organization in the country," Perkes added. "The more members we have, the more voice we have in the legislation that's affecting our kids, both in Washington and in the state capital."