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Missouri DECA logo In its 70th year, Missouri DECA provides services to more than 7,500 students enrolled in Marketing and Cooperative Education programs throughout the state. DECA's comprehensive learning program integrates into classroom instruction, applies learning, connects to business, and promotes competition. DECA prepares the next generation to be academically prepared, community oriented, professionally responsible, and experienced leaders. 

Missouri's marketing and cooperative education students attain the skills necessary to succeed in today's global industry through our unique co-curricular philosophy that closely integrates classroom instruction, DECA, and work-based experiences.

Mission Statement:

DECA prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality, and management.

Missouri DECA's services are an integral part of instruction that motivates students to increase their leadership and creative abilities, reinforce competencies developed in the curriculum and encourage a healthy competitive spirit. One of the most visible components of the student organization is the competitive events program. Students may participate in individual series events, marketing research projects, chapter team projects, leadership academies, and entrepreneurship projects.

Competition is organized so members initially compete at the district level. Last year, more than 6,000 DECA members participated in the 12 district competitive events conferences in 2016. Approximately 600 representatives of business and industry served as judges and determined which students qualified to represent their district at the State Career Development Conference in March. More than 1,700 students and advisors participated in the three-day state conference that featured dynamic general sessions, leadership seminars, entertainment, a rigorous competitive events program, and an exciting awards session. In addition, Missouri DECA students consistenly earn "Top 10" honors at the International Career Development Conference held each Spring.

Missouri DECA History

The founding of the Missouri Association of DECA is an interesting study in the vision and dedication of its earliest leaders. Without their foresight, the State Association would not have developed and achieved its successful reputation.

The history of Missouri DECA may be compared to the tributaries of a river combining into a larger stream. One of these beginnings was a small group of local chapters that held state meetings as early as 1944. These local chapters of DECA were small in number because the creation of Marketing and Distributive Education as a vocationally financed program from the federal level was in its infancy. The other branch that joined the Missouri Association of DECA in the early 1960s was comprised of students in the Cooperative Occupational Education Clubs of Missouri. The Missouri Association of DECA was a charter state in the organization of National DECA in 1948. The local chapters in Missouri DECA numbered under 12 from 1946 until 1960. The COE programs in the state comprised a larger number of programs at that time. Prior to 1955, the COE Clubs of Missouri were known as Diversified Occupations Clubs.

In 1961, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education employed Lester B. Kesterson to serve as the State Director of both the high school Marketing and Distributive Education programs and the Cooperative Occupational Education programs. This automatically made him the State Advisor for both the Missouri Association of DECA and the Missouri COE Clubs. It was agreed among the coordinators that the two groups could function far more effectively as a joint organization. They immediately began to hold joint state conferences in 1961.

This made possible the rapid growth of Missouri DECA. Members were permitted to participate in the DECA competitive events, be elected to State Office, and serve as delegates to the National DECA conferences. The result was that membership in Missouri DECA grew from approximately 600 members in 1960 to over 5,000 in 1982. Today, Missouri DECA provides services to more than 7,500 members and has a list of accomplished alumni who make contributions to the program.