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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 Mission


An integral component of classroom instruction, DECA activities provide authentic, experiential learning

methods to prepare members for college and careers. 

DECA's Guiding Principles

Partnerships with businesses at local and broader levels provide DECA members realistic insight into industry

and promotes meaningful, relevant learning. 


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


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

solutions with practical outcomes. 


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 

Guiding Principles Obtained from:


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

In Doing So, Our Members Will Be:

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


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

consensus building and project implementation.


Recognizing the benefit of service and responsibility to the community, DECA members continually impact and

improve their local and broader communities. 

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