Gaining skills to develop new programs in the local community and learning how to advocate for agriculture has been a one-year endeavor for the enthusiastic Montana Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) members who graduated from the ACE (Advocate. Communicate. Educate.) Leadership program November 8 during the MFBF 104th Annual Convention in Billings. On the first day of the MFBF Convention, ACE class members each delivered presentations regarding their plans for invigorating their local communities and becoming more involved in their county Farm Bureaus.

ACE emphasizes leadership development, issue education and the engagement of local communities. The participants spent 2023 honing their skills at six seminars with outstanding presenters to make a difference in the public’s impressions about agriculture and boost support for agriculture in their local communities.

During the graduation luncheon at the DoubleTree Hotel in downtown Billings, Executive Director of St. Vincent Healthcare and former sideline reporter for Montana State University Bobcat football, Tyler Wiltgen, shared his thoughts on developing communication skills to make a conversation more interesting and informational.

“Show people that you are interested in what they have to say. Pay attention when someone is talking,” Wiltgen advised.

He added that by asking unique and open-ended questions, one will get a more interesting response. “Instead of asking someone ‘How are you?’ asking, ‘What surprised you today?’ will inspire better conversation.

Graduating member Greg Gabel retired from the United States Army as a Lieutenant Colonel and came back to the family’s farm in Huntley to raise sugar beets.

“I decided to apply for ACE because I wanted to be around a group of incredible people who are committed to the agriculture industry and wanted to have a positive impact,” said Gabel. “Learning about others' advocacy experiences, the history of the Farm Bureau, the tour of the Montana legislature and visits with state government agencies were very impactful. During the seminars, the discussions between other classmates and their insights were meaningful and added to the experience.”

Applications for the 2024 ACE Program are due December 1, 2023. For more information and the ACE application visit or contact Sue Ann Streufert, 406-587-3153,

The 2023 ACE Graduates:

Ben Meyer – Stevensville, MT

Beth Blevins – Ronan, MT

Bronya Willmore – Roy, MT

Greg Gabel – Huntley, MT

Janell Plummer – Kalispell, MT

Joe Lackman – Bozeman, MT

Margaret Hebel – Dillon, MT

Nick Courville – Charlo, MT

Tommy Flanagan – Absarokee, MT

Tyson Reese – Missoula, MT