Amy Amrhein earned a standing ovation for her volunteer work to support local schools that started back when her son was just a first-grader.

Her oldest son is now a 6-foot-3 junior in high school.

Mayor John Morrison presented Amrhein with the city's annual James M. Ragland Memorial Volunteer Spirit Community Service Award during an Ashland City Council meeting on Tuesday.

"For more than a decade, she has worked with and for the youth of our community," Morrison said before handing her a plaque.

During a reception before the presentation, Amrhein said she became concerned about a shortage of school funding when she was volunteering in her son's first-grade classroom.

She became an advocate for more school funding before the Oregon Legislature as part of the Coalition for School Funding Now group.

Rep. Peter Buckley, D-Ashland, said Amrhein has had a tremendous impact on helping to convince legislators to provide more school funding.

When the Legislature is in session, she has traveled to Salem and also participated in the weekly teleconference calls held in Ashland between residents and elected representatives.

"She stays on top of legislation and how it would impact schools and the community here. She is proactive in helping Bates and I understand how people here feel," said Buckley, referring to Sen. Alan Bates, D-Ashland.

Amrhein was elected to the Ashland School Board of Directors and served six years, ending in 2007. Her tenure included a difficult period when the school board closed two elementary schools due to declining enrollment.

School volunteer Mary Ellen Cole nominated Amrhein for the Ragland award.

"I've watched her over the years serve students of Ashland as a school board director during difficult years," Cole said.

She said Amrhein is intelligent, approachable and works hard to keep dialogue open.

In addition to serving on the school board, Amrhein has worked for the renewal of the Youth Activities Levy and later the Youth Activities and Academics Levy that fund extracurricular and academic activities. She also promoted passage of a new construction bond in 2007 that is providing money to rebuild schools.

Amrhein thanked her family, her friends, school district staff and the many volunteers who have backed efforts to improve schools. She said news that she had won the volunteer award came as a surprise.

"I can't tell you how shocked and surprised and pleased I was when I got the phone call from the city that I had won," she said.

Morrison said the city received nominations for nine highly deserving individuals or groups for this year's volunteer award.

"This was an extremely strong competition this year," he said. "They deserve accolades as well for being nominated."

The other nominees were:

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162; The city of Ashland Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program for providing a strong foundation for organized volunteer responses to disasters;

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162; Jim Kidd for chairing the organization committee for the Fourth of July Parade and festivities and for volunteering with the Ashland Chamber of Commerce Greeters;

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162; Mark Mahaljevich for serving more than 5,000 hours with Jackson County search and rescue efforts;

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162; Delores Marx for her work as the Oregon Stage Works box office manager, Schneider Museum receptionist, Cabaret Theatre usher, Oregon Shakespeare Festival volunteer, RSVP board member, A Taste of Ashland volunteer, Friends of the Library board member and Empty Bowls Project volunteer.

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162; Keith Massie for assistance with Neighborhood Emergency Response Teams, for serving as a member of the Traffic Safety Commission, Ashland School Board and Charter Review Committee and for serving as president of the Oregon and Southwest Washington Chapter of Urban and Regional Information Systems Association;

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162; Ralph Neuman for meeting with seniors at the Ashland Senior Center to provide confidential, uniform and objective health insurance assistance;

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162; Terry Skibby, a past Ragland award winner, for his work to document Ashland's history through photography;

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162; and Pam Vavra for working on the campaign to pass the Ashland Public Library levy to supplement hours and services, and for serving as chair of the current Citizens' Library Advisory Committee.

Staff writer can be reached at 479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com. To post a comment, visit .