The Montana FFA State Convention is coming March 21st through the 25th.  I have been highlighting families that have been involved in and have made a huge difference in the history of the MT FFA.

There is no way I can highlight all of them, because there are so many worthy families, so I have highlighted the ones I know personally.  If there is another family you want me to highlight, let me know and I will go to work on it.

Read here for the other Legacy Families already featured.

The family I am featuring in this article is the (Fairfield) Standley family.  Thank you to Doug Standley, Jr. for his contribution to the article. There are Standley’s on the Cascade side that also excelled in FFA over the years, but this story is on the Fairfield side of the family.

The Standley family is very dear to me.  They were my “rivals” in FFA.  Cascade vs. Fairfield was a common battle in many FFA contests and there were many times one of the Standley’s stood in my way of a first place finish.  They pushed me to work harder and because of them, I am a better person because of it.

The following is a first person perspective from Doug Standley, Jr.

Early Years

As I approached my Freshman year, the Fairfield high school had a new Ag teacher and FFA Advisor, Glen Kitson. He was a young teacher from Cascade. Cascade FFA had been doing really well in contests, and Mr. Kitson was eager to get the Fairfield FFA into the same category. (My sister) Terry came home from one meeting and said that I should work hard and learn the Creed, and do a good job of record-keeping so I could run for Star Greenhand. That was my goal as I entered High School. Mr. Kitson had asked the local administration if he could take FFA members to the National FFA Convention and was given a hard “no”. “It’s expensive, and the students shouldn’t be out of school that long”. Mr Kitson and our parents were persistent and eventually got a concession that the chapter could send students to convention, only if our chapter won a state FFA contest. I think that was a hurdle we weren’t supposed to clear.

First Trip To National FFA Convention

I remember the FFA officers and Mr. Kitson talking about which contest we had the best shot at winning. I was there for the discussion because Terry was a Senior, the Chapter President (first female in that role), and my ride to and from meetings. They discussed several contests and then talked about the brand NEW contest at the state level, the Parliamentary Procedure contest. “It has 6 members on the team! We could take 6 people!”, and it was settled. We studied hard, practiced lots and won the first Parliamentary Procedure contest at the Montana State Convention. And I was fortunate enough to win the Star Greenhand award at both the district and state levels my freshman year. We went to the national FFA convention that year, and it was amazing.

Expanding The FFA Knowledge

The rest of my High School career I spent trying to be exposed to other parts of FFA. I served on the State Officer nominating committee my sophomore year, I was in the National FFA Band my Junior year, I tried both Extemporaneous and Prepared Public speaking, and went to every leadership seminar that was offered. Mr. Kitson left us, and Mrs. Luoma was our Advisor for most of my FFA career. Our chapter became very competitive, I think the best finish we had as a chapter was a top 10 finish at the national level in Farm Business Management my Junior year.

Meanwhile, my SOEP (now SAE) was growing at home. I had a few cows, and leased some hay acreage from my parents. And worked at local farms and in a grocery store with a butcher shop for placement in agriculture experience.

College and Year Of Service

Not sure what I wanted to do after high school, I decided I should be an Ag Ed teacher myself, and enrolled at MSO in Agricultural Education in the fall of 1985. I was elected 2nd Vice President for the Montana FFA for the 1985-1986 term, and served with a great team. We criss-crossed the state meeting new people and helping at contests. And we got to know many of the FFA Advisors, where we had mostly only known those in our own district previously. At MSU, I continued to help with FFA events and contests, through the collegiate FFA. My junior year, I was president of the collegiate chapter. As part of our Ag Ed classes, we helped put on state convention contests. During that year I also got engaged and was married that fall to my wife Susan.

Adulthood/ Parenthood

We talked a lot about our goals as a couple. And we both agreed that we wanted to have a stay-at-home parent. And while I knew a heck of a lot about cows and calves, animal husbandry and such, I sure didn’t know anything about babies or little kids. Thinking a lot about my career choice, I didn’t see how we could be a one-income family on an Ag teacher’s salary. So I left school and got a sales job, outside of the industry. 3 years and two sons into our marriage, my parents asked if we would consider coming back to the ranch. Dad had taken a job as cattle buyer for Foothills Livestock out of Cascade, and needed good help to run the ranch. Mom said he was lamenting that “I can’t hire anyone that works as well as my kids….”. So we packed up everything we owned and moved back to Fairfield, to raise kids and cattle.

Back to the Ranch

The 10 years we were in Fairfield, I served as the President of the local FFA Alumni. I helped put on the livestock contest at KMON every year, and of course local events. Susan helped too, and got the kids started in school and 4-H. We assumed our kids would be members of the local FFA when they got old enough, to take advantage of the many leadership and personal growth/learning opportunities the program offers. Fairfield is a strong community for athletics, and our kids wrestled, played in band, and tried a few other activities out. And they rode around with Susan or me on the ranch, running parts, checking for calves, and eventually moving cattle, helping with the garden and such.


We left the ranch late in 2002. It was a tough decision, as production agriculture is a great way to live. But it’s a tough way to make a living, especially if your place isn’t paid for. Dad had worked harder than any person I've ever known, for 30 years, and was still having a tough time making ends meet. He had taken the job with Foothills Livestock because they needed extra income to pay off farm debt, and I couldn't escape that he made a good living as a livestock broker, and in effect subsidized his ranching habit. I was offered a Management job in Kalispell, with a decent salary, a retirement plan, and lots of upside.

When we moved to Kalispell, Susan and I had 5 kids. Kellan was our oldest and was in 7th grade, Logan was in 5th, and Austin was in 3rd. Emily was in Kindergarten and Saralyn was just a cute little red-head. I worked hard to learn the business I was managing, and Susan chased kids to their various activities.

Kellan joined the FFA chapter in Kalispell as soon as he could. He often rode his bike a few miles to and from the H.E. Robinson Ag center and the school farm. He really enjoyed his Ag classes, and the CDE opportunities he found as an FFA member. And he loved the work at the school farm. As a sophomore, Kellan was on the Floriculture team that won the Montana state contest, and a trip to the national convention to compete.


That year, 2006, I was offered a promotion and a new position with the company I worked for. We now had our 6th child, Claire. And this seemed like a really good career move, to the corporate office. But it required a move to Missoula. That was going to be tough on Kellan, who was pretty entrenched in the Kalispell FFA chapter. We decided I should accept the position, and we moved to Missoula mid-2006. Kellan stayed with friends for part of that summer, working at the Ag center in Kalispell, and competed in the national Floriculture CDE with their chapter.

Once we moved to Missoula, we quickly became more engaged with the local FFA chapter. Kellan and Logan spent most of their afternoons at the Ag Center, and worked there in the summers. They irrigated, put up hay, and worked animals. They had a good group of friends in the FFA, and those members became very competitive in CDEs. Their advisors were Gene McClure and Steve Vernier. In Kellan's junior year, he took first in Sweepstakes at the state level, and his younger brother Logan got 2nd. Kellan served as Vice President of the Missoula chapter. Kellan and Logan were able to keep animals at the MCPS Ag Center, and began a long line of our family taking care of animals at the facility.

A lot of weekends, you could find half a dozen students practicing Parli-Pro in our backyard, or studying other subjects around our living room or on the porch. Kellan was the President of the Parli-Pro team in Missoula his Senior year, Logan was also on the team. And they won the state contest, and the right to compete at the National convention. Christy Knudsen was coaching the Missoula Parli-Pro team at the time, but was leaving the area. So I was asked to help prepare the team for national competition. Having been out of it for years, and with the contest so different from the one I had participated in, I wasn’t prepared well enough to help them be very competitive. That team worked really hard, and got a Bronze at the national contest.

Standley Kids 

Kellan graduated from Big Sky High School in 2008, and left Missoula for Montana State. He graduated with a degree in Agricultural Education, and is in his 10th year teaching at Bainville. He is on the legislative committee for the Montana Association of Agricultural Educators, is part of the Roosevelt County Livestock Committee, and is President Elect for the Montana Association of Agricultural Educators. He puts on several contests at the state level, including Ag Communications, Sales, and Environmental and Natural Resources. State finishes: FBM-1st place, Sweepstakes, 1st place, Parliamentary Procedure 1st place team

Logan worked at the Missoula Ag Center, and raised a lamb, market hogs, and eventually a steer for the Missoula County Fair. Mr. McClure left MCPS, and was replaced by Tom Andres while Logan was in the FFA. Among other contests, Logan won the state Sweepstakes contest his Junior year. He competed at the national level in Parliamentary Procedure, Farm/Business Management, and Floriculture. He served as Missoula chapter President his senior year at Big Sky High School. He attended Montana State and got a degree, with a double major in Plant Biology and Plant Biotechnology. Logan lives in Lewistown, where he and his wife Emily participate in local ag-related events regularly. They provide several scholarships for FFA members, and put on several contests at the local and state level. Logan puts on the State Farm/Agribusiness Management CDE, and Emily puts on the Agronomy CDE at the state FFA convention each year. State finishes: Livestock CDE-1st place, Sweepstakes-1st place, Meats-1st place, Forestry-1st place, Sweepstakes-2nd place, Range Days Top Range Hand

Austin worked at the Missoula Ag Center, raising a lamb, hogs, and steers. He won beef showmanship at the Missoula County Fair. He also started a rabbit breeding project with another chapter member. Austin was very competitive in CDEs as well, including winning state Sweepstakes. He competed at the national level in Extemporaneous speaking, Parliamentary Procedure, Forestry, and Environmental and Natural Resources. Austin also served as the 2nd Vice President for the Montana FFA for the 2013-2014 team. He was chosen to run for a national FFA office the following year as well. After graduation, Austin left for Montana State. He graduated with a degree in Agriculture Education, and Austin and his wife Taylor both teach Ag Ed in Big Timber. Austin and Taylor have been perennial helpers at Alumni Leadership Camp, and have hosted and/or put on contests at the state and local level. State finishes: Forestry-1st place three times, Meats-1st place, , ENR and Parli-Pro first place teams; Prepared Public Speaking-1st, Sweepstakes-1st, FBM-1st, Livestock-1st, Ag Communications-1st, Extemporaneous Speaking-1st

Emily worked at the Missoula Ag Center, raising market and breeding hogs and a steer. She changed sprinklers and put up hay, like her brothers. She served as chapter Vice President. Emily competed at the National level in Parli-Pro and Ag Sales, including a 4th place team finish and 12th place individual finish in Ag Sales. She played flute in the national FFA Band two years. Emily was in the top 10 in Sweepstakes her Senior year. She graduated Big Sky High School in 2015. She and her husband Colt live in Bozeman, where Emily works in sales. Both she and her husband volunteer helping to judge FFA contests at Ag days and State convention. State finishes: Ag Sales-2nd place

Saralyn worked at the Missoula Ag Center, raising a goat, market hogs, and steers. Like her sister Saralyn had a breeding hog at the Ag Center. She also won a scholarship to purchase two cows. Saralyn competed in many CDEs as well. She was in the top 10 in Sweepstakes two years, won Food Science her freshman year. Saralyn competed at the national level in Meats (her team won the State CDE when she was an 8th grader), Food Science, Sales, Agronomy and Floriculture. Saralyn and her friend Paytyn Wilson presented a leadership workshop at the National FFA Convention as well. Saralyn served as her chapter President before graduating from Big Sky High School. She attended MSU, majoring in Agriculture Education, and worked at the Montana FFA Foundation while attending. Saralyn graduated MSU in 2022, and is currently teaching Ag Ed at Havre High School, in a first-year program. State finishes: Meats-2nd place, Food Science-1st place, Sweepstakes-5th place,

Claire followed a similar path as her older brothers and sisters, working at the Ag Center much of her high school career. She showed sheep, a pig, and steers that she kept at the Ag Center. She purchased one of her sister’s cows and won a heifer through the WMSA scholarship program. In addition to her cow, Claire also had a breeding hog and 4 breeding ewes. Claire competed at National Convention in Forestry (as an 8th grader!), Floriculture, Meats (12th individual finish), Food Science (3rd individual, 1st place team), and was a member of the National FFA Band. Unfortunately, she was not able to compete at Nationals in 2020 because of Covid in 2020. She served as chapter FFA President. Claire is currently attending Montana State University in Agriculture Business. State finishes: Farm Bureau speech-2nd place (twice), Meats-1st (twice), Food Science-1st place, Sweepstakes-1st place, First place Chapter scrapbook and 1st place Chapter Secretary book.

Joel has been attending Montana FFA conventions since he was two weeks old. He grew up watching his older brothers and sisters study and compete and work with animals and hay. Joel is currently an 8th grader, and has already garnered some impressive stats. He got 3rd in Junior Creed at the state FFA convention last year, and has already competed at the national level, placing 21st individual in the Food Science CDE, with the team placing 1st in the Nation! Joel has raised lambs, and market hogs so far. He loves the steers that we raise, and we call him “the Cattle Whisperer”. He is currently in the Discovery program with the Missoula FFA, and is often gathering up other young students for one practice or another.

Mrs. Standley

Susan has been instrumental in countless ways. She managed the Taco Booth for the Missoula FFA Alumni for several years, which was the primary fundraiser for the local FFA activities. She served as Missoula FFA Alumni president for a number of years, and has also served as a State FFA Alumni officer. She has coached the local Floriculture team, Conduct of Chapter Meetings, and Food Science teams as asked. She has coached two Food Science teams at Nationals including the team that won 1st place at the National FFA Convention in November 2022. She has put on the State Floriculture contest twice and has put on or helped put on the state Food Science contest multiple times.

Doug served as the Treasurer for the Missoula FFA Alumni for several years, and has coached Parliamentary Procedure and Ag Sales for several years as asked, including two 4th place team finishes in Ag Sales at the national level.

No matter where you go in Montana, if there is an FFA event, there will be a Standley there helping out.  Thank you to Doug, Susan and the entire Standley family!

If you have a story idea or something you want to learn more about, give Randy a call at 406-788-3003 or send me an email at

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