Menu Close

About DECA

What is DECA?

What Is Marketing Education?

Marketing education is the high school instructional program designed to prepare motivated people for marketing careers. Through Marketing Education, students prepare for career-sustaining, mid-management, or entrepreneurial positions, in keeping with their individual goals. Students receive classroom instruction, participate in marketing internships and have the opportunity to participate in DECA activities.

What is DECA?

DECA is organized around an ambitious goal: to improve education and career opportunities for students interested in careers in marketing, management and entrepreneurship. What began with a few hundred students in 17 states has grown to over 219,000 students in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Canada, China, Guam, Mexico, Spain, Puerto Rico and Germany.

DECA’s objective is to support the development of marketing and management skills in career areas such as hospitality, finance, sales and service, business administration and entrepreneurship. Programs and activities are tailored to the specific career interest of students and include technical skills, basic scholastic and communication skills, human relations and employability skills, and a strong emphasis on economics and free enterprise.

DECA provides recognition and leadership activities directly related to attainment of specific occupational and leadership skills. DECA’s mission establishes clear criteria for its programs and activities.

The mission of DECA, Inc. is to enhance the co-curricular education of students with interest in marketing, management and entrepreneurship. DECA helps students to develop skills and competence for marketing careers, to build self-esteem, to experience leadership and to practice community service. DECA is committed to the advocacy of marketing education and the growth of business/education partnerships.

DECA is a nonpartisan, non-sectarian 501(c)(3) association of students, teachers, and administrators and is recognized and endorsed by all 50 state departments of education and the U.S. Department of Education.

DECA Activities

Local Chapters

Local DECA chapters are co-curricular. Activities are designed to increase social intelligence, develop leadership skills, enhance vocational understanding, and cultivate civic consciousness. Community service projects, conducting marketing research for area businesses, and operation of a school-based business are just a few examples of how DECA links practical application with the theories of marketing learned in the classroom.

Fall Leadership Conference (FLC)

The membership year’s first event is usually the annual Fall Leadership Conference. Chapter officers and members come together to enhance their leadership skills and knowledge. Key workshops include enhancing creativity, developing a program of work, teamwork, and motivating others.

Central Region Leadership Conference (CRLC)

Members from the thirteen states of the Central Region join together to further develop knowledge of marketing and leadership skills. Over 2,000 young people seize the opportunity to become more productive team members and to share innovative ideas, which work in their home communities.

State Career Development Conference (SCDC)

Nebraska DECA’s premier event is the annual state conference. Each participant competes in a career interest competitive event. Also available are individual and team project events. Over 200 business people volunteer their time and expertise to judge the events. The excitement of state officer campaigns and elections, keynote speakers and multi-media presentations make this a highlight of most members’ high school careers.

International Career Development Conference (ICDC)

The top three winners in each competitive event category at SCDC travel to compete against the best and brightest from all 50 states, U.S. territories, and Canada. This is the opportunity for the top DECA members to prove they are number ONE in their event. Over 7,000 members, advisors, and business people attend each year in exciting cities such as Anaheim and Orlando.

Competency Based Events

Competency based events are learning activities designed to evaluate participants’ skills and knowledge in marketing, management, and entrepreneurship. In effect, they are demonstrations of occupational proficiency. They measure occupational knowledge, creativity, basic and advanced thinking and communication skills, and mathematics and technology.


Competitive events contribute to the development of competencies needed for careers in marketing, management and entrepreneurship by evaluating student achievement of these competencies and provide opportunities for student recognition. Competitive events also provide a constructive avenue for individual or group expression, initiative and creativity. They motivate students to assume responsibility and self-discipline while assisting in the development of a healthy self-concept and helping members participate in an environment of cooperation and competition.

Marketing Education and DECA

In the next ten years the workforce will be growing more slowly than the demand for highly skilled and educated workers. Educators and business leaders must work together to meet this challenge.

Beyond giving hands-on experience to your future employees and management personnel, marketing education and DECA give visibility to your business when you volunteer time or financial support. DECA also keeps you informed of the latest developments in education such as Tech Prep and School-to-Work Transition and the accomplishments of Nebraska’s youth.

In today’s world, teamwork is vital for achievement. DECA transforms individuals into team players who recognize that their success is linked to the success of others.

Nebraska DECA History

The first step toward establishing a Distributive Education program in Nebraska was taken in the summer of 1920. Dwight E. Porter, principal of Commerce High in Omaha, Nebraska was the main advocate of the organization. Mr. Porter had completed a survey on the job opportunities open to Commerce High graduates. During the summer of 1920, Mr. Porter met Mrs. Rae C. Williams, who had just resigned as training director at J.L. Brandeis and Sons department store. Mrs. Williams, a Brandeis department store employee, organized the first program of work for high school students in Omaha in September 1920. Gladys Peterson and Mildred Blair joined the staff as the program grew.

Until 1956-57, a youth organization for Distributive Education students existed only at the local level. Nebraska DECA was formally organized at the State Capitol in the Unicameral Assembly Hall on a Saturday in December of 1956. Officers elected were President Kenneth Kroeker of Kearney; Vice President John Chase of South Sioux City; Mary Rasmussen of Kearney, Secretary; Treasurer Ronal Talman of Kearney; and Reporter Jerry Rosengartner of South Sioux City. John Chrismer was the State Director for Distributive Education and Esther Wilson, teacher-coordinator of South Sioux City assisted. Also present were advisors from Kearney and Plattsmouth. The official founding of the organization then occurred in Lincoln on March 9, 1957. The national charter was issued April 27, 1957. DECON (Distributive Education Clubs of Nebraska) held its first State Leadership Conference from February 23-24, 1958.

National Conference Participation

The 12th annual convention of National DECA, conducted in 1958, will be remembered as the first in which Nebraska was represented and also the first in which Nebraskans placed in national contests. Columbus, Ohio was the host city for the April 9-12 conference.

DECON sent four students to Columbus to be its delegates and to participate in the National Contest Program. The delegation arrived in Columbus on April 9th after an 800 mile automobile trip from Lincoln. The delegation registered at the hotel for boys-The Neil House, and then immediately proceeded to the Deshler Hilton, the hotel for girls. The delegation was composed of Jerry Rosengartner, South Sioux City, DECON President and winner of the Job Interview Contest; Rick Ricenbaw, Nebraska City, winner of the Speech Contest; Harold Dale, North Platte, Window Display Judging Contest Winner; and Roger Garrelts, Kearney, Essay Contest Winner.

The contests conducted at the DECA National Convention included the four held at the Nebraska conference plus several others. Public Speaking, Essay, Window Display Judging, Job Interview, Demonstration Sales Judging, Merchandise Information Manual, Ad Layout and Copy Writing, Area of Distribution Manual, Club Activities Manual, State Newsletter, State Newspaper, DE Club of the Year, and DE Student of the Year challenged the participants. Mr. J.C. Penney, Chairman and founder the J.C. Penney Company served as keynote speaker for the final general session. The culminating event was, of course, the awards session and banquet.

Approximately 850 students and guests from 32 states attended the convention and 251 participated in the contest program. To put this in perspective, Nebraska’s state Career Development Conference is equal in size and hosts three times as many contest participants.

DECON was well represented at the National Convention. Roger Garrelts, in competition with 42 other state winners, received the highest rating for his essay and brought back a beautiful 1st place trophy. Harold Dale, representing DECON in the Window Display Judging Contest, won third place nationally in competition with 88 other contestants. Thus began the long list of members from Nebraska who have won national competitive events. The first DECA chapter in Nebraska to win the Chapter of the Year Award was South Sioux City in 1959.

Significant Events

An event of note was the creation of the first state newsletter for DECA, entitled PRIDE (Professional Results in Distributive Education). Since that time the newsletter has undergone an array of format changes, moving from simple duplicated pages to a typical 8½ X 11 magazine format, then to its present newspaper format. Starting in 1991, the newsletter began winning a series of awards at the National Career Development Conference. In 1991 it placed in the top 4, was third place in 1992, finished second in both 1993 and 1994, and placed first in 1995 and 1996. Throughout the decades, Nebraska DECA has provided leadership at the national level, with Dr. John Elias, Larry Loomis, Doug Briggs, Gregg Christensen, and Dr. Steve Eggland serving as members of the Board of Directors, of DECA, Inc. Loomis was the first person elected as President of the Board after serving only one year previously (1976).

The 80’s and 90’s were a period of tremendous growth, change, and innovation for Nebraska DECA. During the decade of the 80’s, Nebraska DECA reached out to provide leadership at the national level, with Doug Briggs, Gregg Christensen, and Dr. Steve Eggland all serving as members of the National Board of Directors. Mr. Christensen served as Secretary for the Board from 1990-1991 and as liaison to the national high school officer team from 1989-90. He received the National Award of Merit in 1990.

Additionally, a number of teacher/coordinators have served on national committees including the Competitive Events Committee, National Alumni Association, and Secondary Advisory Council. In recent years, Harry Gaylor from Omaha Central and Al Wenstrand, Bellevue West were Council representatives.

National Officers and Candidates

Leadership did not stop with the adults, however. The 1980’s saw no less than four national officers elected to serve as Central Region Vice President by the thirteen states of the Central Region. The election of Lynne Madsen in 1980 started the trend and she was followed by Gina Ogorzaly, Mike Hahn, and Todd McElfresh. Mr. Hahn and Mr. McElfresh were elected in successive years and actually came from the same chapter, Columbus High School.

A rich tradition of contributing to the National Officer team has always been part of Nebraska DECA’s legacy. Our state maintains a high level of commitment to member and officer development and seeks to instill the philosophy that each individual maintains the responsibility to give something back to the organization. Nebraska runs comprehensive state officer development programs and encourages like programs at the chapter level. This combination insures that individuals seeking National office are well prepared for this responsibility.

National officers (in bold) and candidates for the high school division and the Nebraska chapters which they called “home” were:


1960-61 Doris Gillming Central Region Vice President Kearney
1975 Deb Krouse Central Region VP Candidate Millard South
1978-79 Shanita Spencer President Ralston
1979 Kelly Simcox Central Region VP Candidate Bellevue West
1980-81 Lynne Madsen Central Region Vice President Millard South
1982 Todd Duffack President Candidate Millard South
1983-84 Gina Ogorzaly Central Region Vice President Bellevue West
1987 Nikki Andersen Central Region Vice President Bellevue West
1988-89 Michael Hahn Central Region Vice President Columbus
1989-90 Todd McElfresh Central Region Vice President Columbus
1990 Suzanne Smith Central Region VP Candidate Bellevue West
1999 Bob Foehlinger Central Region Vice President Ralston
2000 Emily Pearson Central Region VP Candidate Ralston
2001 Tom Centarri Central Region VP Candidate Ralston
2001 Michaela Weeks President Candidate Burke
2002 Lyndsey Redding Central Region VP Candidate Burke
2003 Bekah Negley Central Region VP Candidate Papillion
2006 Lindsey Kaiser Central Region VP Candidate Lincoln East
2008 Joshua Kelley President Candidate Elkhorn
2009 Andrew LaGrone Central Region VP Candidate Millard South
2010 Kurtis Conkel President Candidate Lincoln East

Nebraska has been a significant trailblazer at the local, state and national levels.

National Leadership Contributions

If leadership development is a fundamental premise of DECA, then Nebraska has been a significant trailblazer at the local, state and national levels. Lynne Madsen was the initial creator and organizer of the National Leadership Academy. Through National DECA’s internship program, Lynne Madsen, former National Officer for the High School Division, worked to create the Academy. The Academy concept was developed during her summer internship in 1987 and piloted to 130 high school members during the 1988 National CDC in Salt Lake City, Utah. The academy provides a strong program of leadership development activities coupled with team building sessions. It also provides additional DECA members an opportunity to experience the national conference and the benefits of the National Experience!

Many Nebraska DECA high school alumni and Professional Division members assisted the first three years of the Academy program. Al and Susie Wenstrand, Kim Phillips, Sonia Robins, Nancy Davis and Lisa Stephens are just a few of the advisors and alumni DECA members who contributed significantly to the endeavor. Since its pilot in 1988, the Academy has grown and continued to be a successful method for leadership development. Last year’s Academy hosted nearly 1,000 student members and officers.

Within the state, leadership development is also an integral element of the Program of Work. In 1984, the first Vocational Officer Workshop (VOW) was organized by the state advisors of DECA, FFA, FBLA/PBL, FHA, and VICA. The premise of VOW is to use the strengths of each organization to train the state officer teams for all five groups. The spirit of cooperation then expanded with State Senator Shadowing Days in which state officers met with their senators and the Governor to promote understanding of the purposes of vocational student organizations.

Competitive Events

Nebraska has had a rich tradition of national competitive event winners. As an example, in the written project area, winners have numbered in the hundreds. The individual competitive events have also been a rich area of awards for Nebraska DECA members.