Long-time Area Education Agency (AEA) board member Percy Zylstra was known for his dedication to schools and students in the northern tier of northwest Iowa. He was witty, knowledgeable about educational issues, and extremely committed to his role for Norhtwest AEA. That's why his sudden death last November left a big void on the board.

Luckily for the AEA and its constituents, the transition looks to be quite smooth as the position for District 1 shifts from one Zylstra to another. Keith Zylstra, Percy's son, was recently elected by school board members in the school districts of Rock Valley, West Lyon, Central Lyon, George-Little Rock, Sibley-Ocheyedan and Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn. Keith was officially sworn in as a Northwest AEA board member at the agency's Jan. 24 board meeting.

"Education has always been important to my family. I have served on the Sibley-Ocheyedan School Board in the past. I have been looking for an opportunity to serve in education beyond the local level," explained Keith. "With my father's sudden death leaving an unexpired term, I was anxious to honor him and learn about the AEA system."

Keith, who is a farmer, has also served as past presidents for the Osceola Community Hospital Board of Trustees and for the Trinity Lutheran Church Council.

He grew up on the family's farm near Ashton and attended school in Sibley. He now lives in Sibley with his wife Vicki, who is a teacher at Sibley-Ocheyedan Community School District. They have three children: Michael, Rachel and Eric.

Keith's term expires in October 2011. He will decide at a later date if he will run for the position again.