Over the last few years, several local associations have participated in an IEA program that helps those locals with organizing, strategic planning, membership growth, and community engagement. Known as the “Targeted Local” program, this initiative has helped local associations take ownership of their future and has empowered them to make key decisions for the benefit of their members, as well as students and public education.
The Potlatch Education Association is among those that have reaped the benefits of the Targeted Local initiative. Now in their third year, as an IEA Targeted Local, Potlatch was encouraged to participate by IEA Region 2 Director Jason McKinley. “PEA is the smallest local to take part in the Targeted Local program, but their results rank near the top to program’s success stories,” says McKinley. “It has been amazing to see how they have expanded their capacity and really defined who they are and what they stand for. The PEA story is a testament to the ability of small locals to achieve great outcomes.”
Central to the success the Potlatch EA has enjoyed was building a team and expanding their capacity. “We have been able to create a core team that works well together, and we have been working to grow this team by bringing other members into it who typically have not been very active,” says Potlatch Education Association President Marianne Sletteland. “We have also been able to create new traditions where our local association and our district work together.”
The Potlatch team working on the Targeted Local program includes Sletteland, Josh Hardy, Trish Smeltzer, Irene Curtis, and Kaye Gussenhoven. “This program created an opportunity for us to bring our buildings together for events, provide our ESPs with the recognition they deserve, and allow our members to give back to the community,” says Smeltzer. The group also held an ESP appreciation day, worked with Habitat for Humanity, and set up a booth at the district’s welcome back event.
“The Targeted Local program has been an avenue for me to get involved and to get acquainted with other members,’ says Gussenhoven. “Potlatch is a small district, but with the Targeted Local team we do so much to encourage our members and provide helpful information for other district employees who might be interested in joining.” As a result of these efforts, the Potlatch Education Association has seen membership growth of 42% over the last three years—despite the attrition of some members leaving the district.
Potlatch EA joined many of the other Targeted Locals came recently at IEA headquarters in Boise for a two-day retreat where they reevaluated their goals and strategies. Just as importantly, they were able to collaborate with each other and share stories and ideas about what has worked well for each of them. “Meeting with the other Targeted Locals allowed us to see that even larger locals and districts have the same problems as the smaller ones,” says Smeltzer. “It was great for our small team to meet with groups outside of our region, and all of the groups took an interest in helping each other.”
The Idaho Education Association works directly with all the Targeted Locals to help them develop and implement their strategic plans, engage with members and potential members, collaborate with district officials, and brand themselves within the community. “This program provides a jump-start for these locals,” says IEA President Kari Overall. “It has been very successful in helping the participating local associations take control of their activities and become more robust, outward-looking organizations.”