2018 Distinguished Service Award

  • Awarded:
  • September 22, 2018

This award is presented to an individual or an entity who is not a member of our organization, but who has made a substantial contribution to improve the quality of life for the blind of Montana. This award will be given by the National Federation of the Blind of Montana at our annual state convention, but only as often as circumstances merit. This recognition represents the highest honor that can be given by our affiliate. The recipient of this award will be an individual or entity that we regard as a true friend of the blind, supportive of our progressive philosophy of blindness, instrumental in championing programs that will benefit the blind community of Montana, and dedicated to initiatives that will generate hope and promise for the blind of Montana in innumerable ways.

The 2018 recipient of this award is a third-generation Montana farmer, a proud grandfather, and a former school teacher who has deep roots in hard work, responsibility and accountability. He and his wife Sharla still farm the same land near the town of Big Sandy that was homesteaded by his grandparents in 1912. His parents believed public education and family agriculture are the cornerstones of democracy and those values had a tremendous role in shaping his leadership.

After earning a degree in music from the College of Great Falls, he took over the family farm in 1978. He also taught music at F.E. Miley Elementary and eventually was elected to the Big Sandy School Board. Fired up by the Montana Legislature s decision to deregulate Montana s power industry (resulting in higher power costs), he ran for and was elected to the Montana Senate in 1998.

In 2005, his colleagues chose him to serve as Montana Senate President. The people of Montana elected him to the U.S. Senate in 2006 and again in 2012.

He believes in holding himself accountable to the highest standards possible, and he has improved transparency at all levels of government. In fact, he was the first senator to post his daily public schedule online.

In the U.S. Senate, he is an outspoken voice for rural America. He is an advocate for small businesses who has hosted numerous Small Business Opportunity Workshops across Montana to serve thousands of business owners and entrepreneurs. He is a champion of responsible energy development, sportsmen s issues, clean air and water, Indian nations, women s access to care, and quality health care for all of America s veterans no matter where they live.

In the Senate, he serves on the Veterans Affairs, Commerce, Indian Affairs, Banking, and Appropriations Committees.

In addition to farming and teaching, he and his wife Sharla for years ran a custom butcher shop. He still butchers his own meat and regularly hauls it to Washington with him in a carry-on suitcase.

That’s because Jon Tester has deep roots in Montana. He always will.

In the current Congress, Senator Jon Tester has either cosponsored or voted in favor of the following legislation:

  • S. 116 (Space Available) Lead cosponsor, 1/12/2017
  • S. 732 (ATAA) Cosponsor, 2/6/2018
  • S. 2138 (AIM High) Cosponsor, 2/6/2018
  • S. 2559 (Marrakesh Implementation Act) Passed Senate by unanimous consent, 6/28/2018
  • Marrakesh Treaty Resolution of Advice and Consent Passed Senate by unanimous consent, 6/28/2018

And so, at our sixth annual convention in Helena on September 22, 2018, the National Federation of the Blind of Montana is pleased and proud to recognize Senator Jon Tester as the recipient of this year’s Distinguished Service Award.