Jann Parker Receives 2023 Billings Chamber Agricultural Excellence Award Sponsored By Stockman Bank
The Billings Chamber 2023 Agricultural Excellence Award Sponsored by Stockman Bank is awarded to Jann Parker, manager of Billings Livestock Horse Sales. Parker is a champion for agriculture and Billings—billing it as the first-choice destination in the nation for purchasing a horse, whether it be for roping, riding, ranching or recreating.
As such she is the epitome of this award which recognizes an individual, business or organization that has made outstanding contributions to the Billings agricultural community with a nod to their demonstrated excellence in their involvement in agriculture, leadership ability, and participation in civic, service and community organizations. The recipient is nominated by their peers and selected by the Billings Chamber Ag Committee and Board of Directors.
Parker has a deep appreciation for agriculture, with the industry’s importance instilled in her from an early age as she grew up in North Dakota and she notes that “ag fed me”. She is a self-proclaimed “horse crazy girl”, who received her first horse from her parents when she was 12 years old and became an active 4-H member, learning and growing through the organization and has been involved with horses every day since.
She came to Billings from North Dakota during her second year of college and was immediately wowed by the city and warm weather—after which she decided to move to Montana’s Trailhead. Upon arriving in Billings, she began working at the Northern Rodeo Association and continued working there for 16 years while staying active with horses and rodeo. In 1986, she met Bill Parker at a Billings Livestock Horse Sale and they married three years later, becoming partners in life and in running a successful horse sale business.
“Jann and her late husband, Bill, started BLS Horse Sale in 1998 and to date have held over 280 sales with over 180,000 horses to customers in the U.S. and in Canada,” shares her nominator. “Billings is the longest standing monthly horse sale in the nation and Jann is a big proponent of the western and cowboy lifestyle, and Billings in general with a far-reaching name and reputation.”
She and Bill co-managed the horse sales for 19 years. With the drive and dream of making Billings a destination horse sale before the internet became an integral part of our daily lives and direct marketing tool, they began publishing a monthly horse sale newspaper with highlights of the previous month’s sale and what was coming in the next sale.
Parker became the sole manager of BLS Horse Sales in 2016 and is the first woman in the company’s history to do so. She has continued her own and maintained the legacy of being a premier horse sale.
She has put Billings on the map for horse sales across the country through instilling confidence in consignors to get top dollar for their horses and providing the right horses to a variety of customers, the majority of whom attend the sales from outside Yellowstone County, which serves as an economic driver for the local economy.
She fosters the mindset of “I want to go to Billings,” for both horse buyers and consignors and invites all to come and experience the west. At BLS Horse Sales, Parker has built a reputation of living what they preach and it’s common to see the horse preview arenas full of cowboy hats, looking the part and living it out as the cowboys market their horses ahead of the sale. Her continued industry success can be attributed to fostering relationships, coupled with her keen marketing skills and staying on the cutting edge of technology. Fairness is a big part of success for Parker and the horse sales that she successfully orchestrates and manages.
This motivated and outgoing ag industry advocate gives back through mentorship, supporting area youth rodeos, 4-H programs, and partnerships with those looking to get started in the horse business, paving the way for others who want to do better. She lives each day by the saying “good, better, best, never let it rest until your good becomes better and your better best.”
Parker was presented with the award by the Billings Chamber of Commerce, Randy Vogele and Tierani Brusett of Stockman Bank, alongside her colleagues. She shares, “To be recognized by my peers in ag, I’m very touched and humbled by it. This will keep my fire lit as I never saw it coming.”
She will be formally honored during the 2024 Billings Chamber Ag Celebration Banquet on January 26, 2024 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the MetraPark Pavilion, as the culmination of the fourth annual Ag Celebration Week.
Written by Kelsi Gambill, MSPR, CTA
Public Relations & Communications Manager