KATIE OYAN Associated Press Writer HELEN
A teacher from eastern Montana is among 10 supporters who will be joining presidential candidate Barack Obama backstage before he accepts the nomination at this month's Democratic National Convention. Barb Sackman, 35, lives on her family's wheat and cattle farm near Fallon, a town of 150 people, and teaches first grade in the nearby town of Terry. Sackman said Monday that she applied online to join Obama backstage last month and was later called to do a phone interview. The Obama camp called her back last week and left a message saying she'd been chosen. "I was just beside myself," Sackman said. "I couldn't believe I had been picked. I had to listen to the message again." Sackman, a longtime Democrat, said she is proud to represent eastern Montana at the Denver convention and hopes Montanans from all political backgrounds will feel the same. "I just want people to be excited no matter what side of the fence you're on," she said. "I think it's great for Montana and eastern Montana to boot." Her one regret is that her father, also a staunch Democrat, isn't alive to hear about it. "He would think this was the coolest thing ever," she said. In applying for the opportunity, Sackman said she wrote a short essay about living in rural Montana and how rising fuel prices are making it hard for people to get by. She wrote that she hoped Obama's plan for alternative biofuels would help her area's struggling economy. In Sackman's community, "if agriculture doesn't do well, we don't do well." Alternative biofuels would be a "great opportunity for our tiny county that has no other resources," she said. Biofuels solid, liquid or gas fuel derived from recently dead biological material offer the possibility of producing energy without a net increase of carbon into the atmosphere. Sackman will attend the convention with her husband, Marty, a farmer and fellow Obama supporter. She said her two kids ages 4 and 1 will stay home. Besides biofuels, Sackman said she hopes to talk to Obama about education reform and his plans to protect family farms. The other supporters selected to be backstage with Obama are from North Carolina, Indiana, Ohio, Colorado, Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Alaska and North Dakota.