Idaho AEYC to Strengthen Statewide Awareness of Importance of Quality Early Learning

Press Release

The Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children will begin a three-year project to engage communities across Idaho regarding the importance of high-quality early learning programs for children.

Building Idaho’s Early Learning Foundation project is funded by a $450,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek, Michigan.

“Access to affordable, high-quality early learning programs is a challenge for many families across Idaho,” said Beth Oppenheimer, executive director of Idaho AEYC. “The project begins by listening to parents to understand their current perception, wants, desires and knowledge around the importance of early learning. Once we know that, we can then strengthen community awareness around the importance of building foundational skills for school and increase local demand for access to high-quality programs for all children.”

Efforts of the project will focus on a three-year, statewide community outreach plan that will: research communities across the state to clearly understand their perceptions and understanding about high-quality early learning; educate parents, families and community leaders about the importance of high-quality early learning; and build awareness and support by local communities and state leaders to invest in high-quality programs for young children.

Research begins this year and will target both large and small populous communities throughout Idaho. The research findings will guide the development of long-and short-term communication plans to build community support for investments and opportunities in supporting our youngest learners.

“Every community throughout Idaho is unique and the approach to investing in early learning must meet the needs of our diverse population,” Oppenheimer said. “By understanding Idahoans true perceptions of quality early learning, we will be better prepared to develop a statewide infrastructure of early learning programs that will best fit each individual community’s needs.”

About Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children (Idaho AEYC)

The nonprofit Idaho AEYC is dedicated to advancing Idaho's early learning profession and advocating for children and families. The organization was founded in 1986 and is headquartered in Boise, Idaho. Learn more at

About the W.K. Kellogg Foundation

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.

The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Michigan, and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti. For more information, visit

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Giving Children Access to Books and Food Over Summer Break

Press Release

Marsing, ID – Children can’t learn if they are hungry. Couple it with the fact that many children in Idaho do not have access to resources, such as books, in their home to help them learn. To take it a step further, these issues are even more challenging during the summer months.

Food insecurity and summer learning loss are two critical challenges we face in our communities. In Idaho, one out of every five children are food insecure. In addition, research shows that in many of our communities, there are no books available at children´s homes. With no access to books, children can lose up to three months of what they achieved during the school year.

But, this summer is different in one Idaho community. Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children (Idaho AEYC) is partnering with the Marsing School District to provide new books to children attending the Marsing School District Summer Meal Program. Twice a week when children get their lunch, they will also receive a couple of age-appropriate books they can take home and keep.

  • Monday, July 11, Idaho AEYC´s Executive Director Beth Oppenheimer will be at the Marsing City Park to engage with the community and share how important reading is to prepare children for school and prevent summer learning loss.
  • JOIN US! July 11, from 11:45am-12:15pm at Marsing City Park on the corner of 2nd Ave. West and 2nd St. North, Marsing, ID.
  • READ Up is offered on Monday and Friday at two locations: Marsing Housing Authority from 11-11:30am and at Marsing City Park from 11:45am-12:15pm.

The free books are part of Idaho AEYC´s READ Up program, an initiative of The Children´s Reading Foundation brought to Idaho through a grant that is reaching 18 school districts throughout the state. Over 15,000 books, including dozens of bilingual titles, will be distributed this summer through partnerships with summer meal programs, libraries, health services agencies, Head Start programs and others. For the complete schedule, see the READ Up Calendar

According to the 2014 Census, in Marsing, Idaho more than 25% of the population under 18 years of age lives in poverty and data from the State Department of Education shows that over 50% of the children enter school without the basic literacy skills for a successful first year of school.

The nonprofit Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children (Idaho AEYC) is dedicated to advancing Idaho's early learning profession and advocating for children and families. The organization was founded in 1986 and is headquartered in Boise, Idaho. Learn more at

Idaho AEYC Governing Board Elect New Leadership and Members

Press Release

Boise, ID – The Idaho Association for Education of Young Children (Idaho AEYC) Governing Board is pleased to announce Genie Sue Weppner will become President on July 1, 2016. Weppner served as President-Elect prior to taking this role and has a long history of advocating for early learning. Before retiring, Weppner managed the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s Idaho Child Care Program (ICCP) and has over 15 years of experience working in the private non-profit sector.

“I’m thrilled about the opportunity to continue my work advocating for quality early learning,” says Genie Sue Weppner. “I’m especially pleased we have expanded our board leadership statewide and am hopeful the new energy will help transform early childhood education in Idaho.”

At its June 2016 meeting, the Idaho AEYC Governing Board expanded by welcoming seven newly-elected members and five new Local Affiliate Representatives. The new members’ experience and expertise will help the organization increase its impact on the early learning field and build-up statewide representation. Members are elected to serve 2-year terms.

“We are honored to have such a talented and passionate group of statewide individuals leading Idaho AEYC’s efforts to support improving early learning throughout Idaho,” says Idaho AEYC Executive Director Beth Oppenheimer. “We are very excited to get to work and become the next state to invest in our youngest children’s future.”

Newly-Elected Governing Board Members:

Danielle Taniguchi, Treasurer (Kuna, Idaho)
Taniguchi is Assistant Controller for Oppenheimer Companies, Inc. She earned two Bachelors of Business Administration, one in International Business and one in Human Resource Management from Boise State University.

Ruth Calnon, Member-at-Large (Boise, Idaho)
Calnon is a Family Engagement Consultant with the Boise Independent School District and has worked in the education field for over 35 years. Ruth holds an Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instructions from Boise State University.

Janet Davis, Member-at-Large (Boise, Idaho)
Davis is the Co-Owner of Early Learning Children’s Center in Boise and has over 28 years of quality early care and education in the profession. Janet has advanced graduate studies in Early Childhood Education and a B.A. in Elementary Education from Boise State University.

Jessica Gunder, Member-at-Large (Boise, Idaho)
Gunder currently serves as an Assistant U.S. Attorney with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Idaho. She received her J.D. from the University of Missouri School of Law, graduating with honors.

Beth Price, Ph.D., Member-at-Large (Moscow, Idaho)
Price is an Associate Professor/Program Coordinator, Early Childhood Development and Education, at the University of Idaho in Moscow and has been in the field of early childhood for 33 years. She has a Ph.D. in Education from the University of Idaho.

Chase Ropelato, Member-at-Large (Boise, Idaho)
Ropelato is a Human Resource Specialist for Idaho Power in the Boise Corporate Headquarters. He earned his B.S. in Management and Human Resources at the University of Idaho.

Jennifer Ross, Member-at-Large (Hayden, Idaho)
Ross is currently a Center Manager for the Community Colleges of Spokane Early Head Start and is a state-approved trainer for child care professionals. Ross holds a M.Ed. in Special Education (Early Childhood) from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.

New Local Affiliate Representative Members:

Tonya Sears, Local Affiliate Representative-North Idaho (Post Falls, Idaho)
Sears is the Classroom Lead Teacher at the North Idaho College Head Start. She has a M.S. in Family and Consumer Studies from the University of Idaho.

Anji Armagost, Local Affiliate Representative-Treasure Valley (Boise, Idaho)
Armagost is serving as the Director for Nutrition Works, a sponsoring organization for the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). She graduated with a Master’s in Business Administration from Boise State University.

Ellen Neff, Local Affiliate Representative-Snake River (Twin Falls, Idaho)
Neff is an Associate Professor in the Early Childhood Education Program at the College of Southern Idaho and has her M.Ed. in Early Childhood Studies with an Infant Mental Health endorsement.

Jennifer Patterson, Official Alternate, Local Affiliate Representative-Snake River (Jerome, Idaho)
Patterson currently works in the CSI Early Childhood Education Program as the Coordinator for the Toddler Lab, Preschool Lab, Kindergarten Lab and all-day Early Learning Center. She graduated from Idaho State University with her Blended Certificate in Early Childhood Education.

Lynnie Pahis Anderson, Local Affiliate Representative – Eastern Idaho (Idaho Falls, Idaho)
Pahis Anderson is a partner at SMR Kids Care & Early Learning Center in Idaho Falls. She received an Associate of Applied Science degree from Idaho State University.

New Governing Board members will join Teresa Wood-Adams (Past President), Margaret Elkins (President-Elect), LeAnn Simmons (Member-at-Large) and Geneva Ayarra (Member-at-Large).

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Oct 20-22 2016

2016 MtAEYC Conference, Missoula, Montana

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Oct 21 2016

North Idaho AEYC 2016 Fall Early Childhood Conference

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Nov 2-5 2016

NAEYC Annual Conference, Los Angeles, California.

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Nov 15-16 2016

Idaho's 9th Early Years Conference, Boise, Idaho.

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Nov 17-18 2016

Family & Community Engagement Conference, Boise, Idaho.

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Feb 25 2017

Utah Early Childhood Conference, Ogden, UT.

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March 3-4 2017

2017 Eastern Idaho AEYC Conference, Pocatello, Idaho.

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May 19-20 2017

2017 Idaho AEYC Statewide Professional Development Institute – Power to the Profession, Boise ID

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