Waterville grad gets P.E.O. grant

Valerie Loebsack (second from the right) accepts a check for $1,300 from P.E.O. Chapter Z member Diane Petersen (far right). Also shown are Alice Ruud, a P.E.O. member (second from the left), and Loebsack’s mother, Marjie Loebsack (far left). (Empire Press photo/Karen Larsen)


By Karen Larsen
Empire Press Correspondent

Valerie Loebsack, a 2009 Waterville High School graduate, has received a scholarship of $1,300 from the P.E.O. (Philanthropic Educational Organization) Program for Continuing Education (PCE). The funds were obtained for her by the local P.E.O. Chapter Z.

Loebsack, who previously earned an Associate in Arts degree at North Idaho Community College, will this fall begin working toward a bachelor’s degree in outdoor recreation with a minor in aquatics management from Eastern Washington University.

Since she graduated from North Idaho Community College, Loebsack has worked with children in a number of jobs including serving as a paraeducator at Waterville Elementary School, being a summer camp counselor, serving in the national park system and working as a nanny.

Outdoor recreation has also become a hobby for her, especially hiking and rock climbing.

She is excited about the outdoor recreation major because it will give her the chance to more effectively share her hobbies and interests with others.

“It seemed to make sense,” Loebsack said. “It is something that I like that I get to share with (others).”

The P.E.O.’s PCE program provides one-time financial grants for women whose education has been interrupted and are returning to school in order to gain skills or qualifications for employment.

Women apply for the grants through their local P.E.O. chapter. A member of the chapter interviews the candidate and the chapter members vote on whether to recommend the candidate for the grant. The candidate may then complete an application process with the P.E.O.

Over the past 20 years, Chapter Z has been able to obtain $25,000 in PCE grants for Waterville women.

Loebsack said that the scholarship money is very helpful for her as she considers how to pay for tuition and books to complete her program.

For more information about the P.E.O. philanthropic organization, visit peointernational.org.