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DECA has a very proud past that has touched the lives of more than 10-Million students, educators, school administrators, and business professionals. Their strong connection with our organization has developed into a brand that people identify, and one that has evolved throughout the years. As business leaders, we recognize the significance of the past, while standing ready to embrace the future.  

Our Impact

Montana DECA's strategic drivers identified by the Board of Directors guide the collaboration of staff and stakeholders in delivering the premier organization to prepare emerging leaders and entrepreneurs. 

Although the 2021-2022 school year started with uncertainty, the DECA year culminated with the vibrant return of the first in-person Collegiate DECA and DECA International Career Development Conferences since 2019. DECA also made significant strides in regaining chapters and membership, while strategically positioning the organization for both the short-term and long-term.

The school year ended with strong membership numbers, unwavering support from our partner organizations and a renewed excitement for DECA from those who were thrilled to engage in-person and for those who were eager to experience DECA in-person for the first time. Strong membership numbers and conference attendance reinforced the power of DECA’s core programs and philosophies. Still navigating the health challenges presented by the pandemic, DECA successfully hosted a nearly full slate of in-person conferences, reinforcing the educational value of in-person networking, learning and growing.  

Since 2020, the pandemic challenged DECA to develop new programs, try new delivery methods and add layers of support. However, the experiences and learnings from and during the pandemic positioned DECA extremely well to enter a new era of chapter recruitment, membership development, enhanced educational programs, increased member value and opportunities to forge new partnerships. With the support of our board of directors, our talented staff, our dedicated advisors, our enthusiastic members and our generous partners, DECA will continue to be the premier career and technical student organization for business, marketing, finance, hospitality and entrepreneurship.

Strategic Drivers

  • Program of Study
    Review all dimensions of existing and potential programs spanning the spectrum from middle school through post-secondary.

  • Resources and Support
    Provide training, information and tools to support advisors at every level.

  • Strategic Partnerships
    Engage relevant stakeholders to create synergies that advance DECA's mission and mission.

  • Organization Strength
    Enhance talent, technology and communication to support every dimension of DECA.

Engaging Our Members

Providing Relevant & Innovative Experiences for Our Members

  • The Game-Of-Life provided a unique, hands-on learning opportunity to connect with industry, learn financial principles, and plan for life’s unexpected.

  • The Shark Tank Challenge continued. As a premier event of the State Career Development Conference, Sky Federal Credit Union challenges teams to create a service or product, using a revealed household mystery item in just under two weeks.

  • DECA reimagined an all-new DECA Direct Online in March with new features for the classroom and a digital-first delivery.

  • DECA released a new Student Portal, giving members access to participation transcripts, membership news, and more.

  • DECA Plus was launched in October, providing members cutting-edge competition preparation, 100+ case-studies, and state of the art industry engagement.

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Supporting Our

Assisting our Advisors who Adapt to Virtual, In-Person or Hybrid Teaching

  • More than 1,436 DECA advisors participated in DECA’s first-ever Advisor Professional Learning Virtual Conference in early August, designed to provide resources for the unique year ahead.

  • DECA’s newly introduced Classroom Connection provided advisors with a weekly lesson plan and resources such as videos, digital classroom activities and seminars. With many on-demand videos, they were clutch for virtual learning.

  • The complete rollout of the Advisor Mentoring Network provided a formal program featuring a monthly curriculum to help on-board our new advisors while transferring knowledge from our experienced advisors.

Championing Our

Developing the Lifeblood of our Membership by Creating
a Chapter-Centric Culture

  • DECA Plus provided members on-demand resources, including competition preparation, over 100 case-studies, and engaging industry resources.

  • The Recruitment Toolkit provided student leaders with customizable graphics, logos, and social backgrounds to assist in member recruitment and engagement.

  • DECA refined online resources to attract teachers to serve as an advisor and start a DECA chapter.

  • Weekly DECA Direct Emails engaged the student membership base with current events, weekly case-studies, and industry relevant articles that expand and integrate to classroom instruction.

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Strengthening Our

Maintaining & Enhancing Industry Support

  • DECA continually involves industry in program execution. As a
    co-curricular organization, we understand that connecting to business aligns DECA’s Impact with contemporary and relevant industry needs.

  • Merit-based scholarships are provided to student-members through a variety of corporate and education partners.

  • Our esteemed partners continue to support work-based learning initiatives, and hands-on learning challenges that support innovation and creativity in and out of the classroom.

Propelling Our
Organization Forward

Enhancing Talent, Technology and Communication to Support Every Dimension of DECA.

  • Our Industry leading technology solutions keep members engaged, partners connected, and our impact meaningful.

  • DECA continues to be the flagship business career & technical student organization (CTSO), providing contemporary, relevant, meaningful solutions.

  • In an ever-changing landscape, DECA continues to connect with student-members through new, exciting, and innovative programming and resources.

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DECA's Guiding Principles

Integrate Into Classroom Instruction

An integral component of classroom instruction, DECA activities provide authentic, experiential learning methods to prepare members for college and careers. 

Apply Learning

DECA members put their knowledge into action through rigorous project-based activities that require creative

solutions with practical outcomes. 

Connect to Business

Partnerships with businesses at local and broader levels provide DECA members realistic insight into industry and promotes meaningful, relevant learning. 

Promote Competition

As in the global economy, a spark of competition drives DECA members to excel and improve their performance. 

In Doing So, Our Members Will Be

Academically Prepared

DECA Members are ambitious, high-achieving leaders equipped to conquer the challenges of their aspirations.

Community Oriented

Recognizing the benefit of service and responsibility to the community, DECA members continually impact and improve their local and broader communities. 

Professionally Responsible

DECA members are poised professionals with ethics, integrity and high standards.

Experienced Leaders

DECA Members are empowered through experience to provide effective leadership through goal setting,

consensus building and project implementation.

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More About Us

With over a 70 year history, DECA has impacted the lives of more than ten million students, educators, school administrators and business professionals since its founding in 1946. DECA prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality, and management in high schools and colleges around the globe. 


DECA is organized into two unique student divisions each with programs designed to address learning styles, interest and focus of its members. The high school division includes 210,000 members in 3,500 schools. The collegiate division includes nearly 15,000 members in 250 colleges and universities. 


Montana DECA was organized first at Billings Senior High School. Robert F. Wilson, a history instructor teaching a class called Part Time Cooperative (PTC), ran across a magazine titled the Distributor in 1950. After reading the articles, he decided his PTC class was very similar to distributive education so he wrote the National DECA organization for more information.


DECA replied that if Montana DECA could organize three chapters, it could become a chartered state association. Wilson recruited Alice Oliver in Bozeman and Bob Wells in Miles City, who were teaching similar programs. In the spring of 1951, Wilson traveled to the National Leadership Conference in Tulsa along with his chapter president, Ted Harris, and student representatives from the other two schools. 

At that conference, Ted Harris ran for national office, coming in second. However, Harris was given the opportunity to preside over the 1952 National DECA Conference when the elected President joined the United States Army just before conference time. 


Billings, Montana served as the site for Montana DECA's first State Conference in the Spring of 1951. The Conference moved to Bozeman in 1952. During those years, Wilson's program was the largest distributive education program in the country to be managed by one teacher coordinator. He had 129 students in four classes with two cooperative periods. 


Laura Nicholson, the State Supervisor of Distributive Education, became the first DECA State Advisor for Montana in 1951, succeeded by Dave Mair in 1955. Two years later, in 1957, Montana had its second national officer, Eldon Pickering, Parliamentarian. Other national officers from Montana include: 

Frank Taber, Great Falls High School, High School President 1966

David Stukey, Montana State University, Collegiate WRVP 1971

Carla Mathison, Missoula Technical Center, Collegiate Treasurer 1972

John Stiles, Bozeman High School, Western Region VP 2010


In 1960, teacher-coordinator G. Dean Palmer moved from Dawson County High School in Glendive to assume the position of retail and middle management professor at Northern Montana College in Havre where he organized the first postsecondary DECA Chapter. While teaching, he simultaneously served as the state supervisor of distributive education. Palmer was also a pioneer in the organization of the Collegiate Division on the national level. 


Palmer moved to Bozeman in 1964 to become the first teacher-educator at Montana State University. He served in that position until 1971 when he was succeeded by Norm Milikin. Upon Palmer's retirement, Raymond Heley was hired as the new state supervisor and state adivsor for Montana and remained in that position until 1969. Over the years, the following individuals have served as State Advisor: 

Janet Hughes     1969-1970            Redina Berscheid      1979-1986

Michael Bulock   1970-1971             Cheryl Graham          2000-2003

James Bowman 1971-1973              Dianna Fiedler           2003-2008

Ross Wagner      1973-1977             Erin Weisgerber        2009-2013

Barb Robertson  1973-1977            Krista Bergstrom       2013-2015         
Gary Bores          1977-1979            John Stiles                 2015-Present


The Western Region Leadership Conference has been held in Montana only once, but it produced an unexpectedly large attendance of 1,465 members. 


Dr. Norm Milikin, respected former teacher-educator often says that the most outstanding characteristic of Montana DECA and Montana Marketing Education in general has been the loyalty and stability of a solid group of high school teachers who have stayed with Montana Schools for many years, building excellent programs and assuming strong leadership roles outside of the state. 


History Obtained from: "DECA-A Continuing Tradition of Excellence" Chapter #5, Pages 298-300

Dynamic Impact on College + Career Success

Our diverse, highly-motivated DECA members report that their participation in DECA has a direct positive effect on their preparation for college and careers.

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