Whitney Creek ranchers named Ag Family of the Year

Amorette Allison
Star Staff Writer

Each year at the Miles City Area Chamber of Commerce Ag Appreciation Banquet, the members of the Chamber’s Ag Council select an Ag Family of the Year for contributions to the ag industry and community service. 

This year, there was almost a problem. Whitney Creek ranchers Jim and Marilyn May were planning on attending their 50th class reunion so they had declined the Chamber’s invitation. Calls were made by committee members to children and Jim and Marilyn were at the banquet.

Good thing. The couple from the Whitney Creek community were selected this year and honored at the annual dinner, although Marilyn said in a phone interview with the Star that “everybody should be honored because of this drought.” 

Marilyn said she was surprised because it is usually “bigger places or businesses” who receive the recognition. When she found out about this year’s selection, “It was an overwhelming honor.”

According to the biography written by Karl Drga of the loan department at First Interstate Bank in Miles City, Jim and Marilyn moved to the Whitney Creek area in the early 1970s after attending school at Montana State University in Bozeman. They have remained on the Whitney Creek Ranch ever since.

Jim was an early adopter of artificial insemination and the Mays have raised their own bulls since the early 1990s. They have also raised bulls for other ranchers in the area.

“While always busy on their own place,” said Drga’s biography, “Jim always found time to help neighbors with any project.”

Jim and Marilyn recently celebrated their 49th wedding anniversary. They say their four children share their strong work ethic and love of ranching.  “God was with us in the ups and downs of raising a family and ranching,” Marilyn said. 

The Mays have also been extensively involved in their community, serving with numerous agricultural and community organizations and boards, including 4-H.

Drga’s biography reads: “Jim and Marilyn selflessly gave their time and knowledge of animal husbandry, cooking, sewing, woodwork and leather work to many youth in our community.”

To demonstrate the Mays influence on the ag community, Drga asked anyone who had been helped by the Mays with a 4-H or FFA project, or had one of their children helped by the couple, to stand up. A large percentage of the crowd did so.

Marilyn said she is “particularly grateful” to their families, on both sides, who helped the family establish their ranch and continue to be successful.

She also credits the “joy of community” and her faith for success.

(Contact Amorette Allison at 406-234-0450 or mcreporter@midrivers.com.)