P O W E L L, W y o. - Justin Mills, a 1996 graduate of Northwest College, will speak at NWC Commencement Exercises Saturday, May 12, as the college's 2007 Distinguished Alumnus. The ceremony begins at 10:30 a.m. in Cabre Gym in Powell.
Mills is in his first year as general manager for the Northern International Livestock Exposition in Billings, Mont. His nine-year career path to this position led Mills from an early interest in becoming a basketball coach and ag teacher when he first arrived at Northwest to a career in agri-business. In choosing him as its 2007 Distinguished Alumnus, NWC honors the distinctive leadership and dedication Mills has brought to his profession.
Growing up six miles south of Devils Tower, Mills was a 1993 graduate of Hulett High School. He attended Northwest for three years, then transferred to the University of Wyoming where he earned a bachelor's degree in agricultural education in May 1998.
Mills' stint at Northwest took a little longer than he'd planned because his second year was filled with travel and speaking engagements as the Wyoming FFA Association third vice president. He traveled across the state speaking to middle school and high school students, and conducting workshops on leadership, community development and cooperation, as well as personal growth, responsibility and self-esteem.
He funneled that leadership experience into his student job as a resident assistant during his third year at NWC. As a recognized student leader, he was responsible for building a residential community and providing programs for entertainment and personal development. That was the same year he became an FFA camp counselor, and once again found himself coordinating activities and workshops focusing on leadership skills, public speaking, goal setting and effective communication.
He was a natural to become president of the board of directors for the Western Institute of Leadership for Life, Inc., a nonprofit organization that strives to improve leadership skills in young people. He served in that role for five years. He also served on the Ag Technology Show board of directors from 2004-07.
Before signing on at the Nile, he worked four years at the Northern Broadcasting System in Billings as an associate farm director and later as director of technology development. During that time he also served as an associate member representative for the Wyoming Association of Broadcasters where he addressed concerns and policy regarding legislation on behalf of the radio and television industry of Wyoming.
As general manager for the NILE, his duties include responsibilities for promoting and planning the NILE Stock Show and ProRodeo, as well as a PBR (Professional Bull Riders) event.
Mills currently lives in Billings with his wife, Myla, and three young children, Ethan, Chase and Madelyn. He's a member of the Ag Committee for the Billings Area Chamber of Commerce and does volunteer auctioneering for various fundraisers. He still hasn't forgotten his early dreams, and even though he no longer entertains aspirations of coaching basketball, still manages to get in a noon game now and then.