Knope was born on January 18, 1975 in Eagleton, Indiana due to a raccoon infestation in Pawnee, and has lived in Pawnee, Indiana since infancy. According to the show’s timeline, her father died in 1985. She was inspired to pursue a life of public service by the community programs she enjoyed as a child. While attending Pawnee North High School she served as Co-Vice President of the student body and participated in several student organizations including the Model United Nations, Debate Club, Mock Trial, Young Republicans, Young Democrats and Young Independents, which she founded. She graduated in the top five percent of her high school class and summa cum laude from Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA).