Board of Directors

Aaron Oxarart

Aaron Oxarart was raised on the family ranch south of Malta in the same area that his family set down roots back in the “homestead era” over a century ago.  Aaron works for the statewide agriculture lending company Montana Livestock Ag Credit, Inc. out of Helena.  Aaron has been serving on the Rancher’s Stewardship Alliance since 2012.

Anna Merriman

Anna Merriman, RSA board member since 2013, and Secretary, was born and raised on a cattle operation in South Phillips County. She attended Northwest College in Powell, WY and finished her business degree at MSU-Billings in 2005. She married Cliff Merriman in 2008 and they have two children; Courtney (6 yrs) and Beau (4 yrs). In 2012, they purchased an organic grain farm in South Phillips County not far from where she grew up and moved back to Malta. They are both active in the community and continually working towards expanding their operation as well as looking at ways to help other beginning farmers and ranchers.


Perri Jacobs

President - Ranchers Stewardship Alliance

Perri Jacobs, President of RSA, was born and raised on a ranch near Hardin, Mt.  She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Science and Agriculture Education and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration.  Her previous employment includes Vo-Ag Teacher/FFA Advisor, County Agriculture Extension Agent, Associate Director Montana Agriculture Innovation Center and Bureau Chief Montana Department of Agriculture.  She has resided in South Phillips County for the past six years.  With her husband and his parents, they operate a cow/calf ranch and dryland wheat farm.

Dale Veseth

Dale is a third generation rancher who lives on the family ranch in the Missouri River breaks. Dale received a bachelors and master’s degrees in Animal Science from Montana State University. He worked for the Montana Beef Performance Association while completing his MS degree as executive secretary. Dale and his wife, Janet, were the recipients of the Clarence Burch award in 2008 and the ranch received the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association regional environmental stewardship award that same year. Dale and Janet are founding members of the Ranchers Stewardship Alliance and the Matador Grassbank.

Kelli French

Kelli is a country girl at heart.  She grew up South of Malta on her family's ranch.  In addition to enjoying her time on the ranch, Kelli has always had her head in the clouds.  To pursue this interest she went to college and graduated with a Bachelors in Aeronautical Science.  Kelli then came back to the ranch and helped her folks while giving flying lessons.  To quench some of her thirst for adventure, Kelli headed to Australia for work and to Vietnam and Peru for holiday.  Kelli has now been a member of RSA for 2 years and is new to the board.  She is also active in CattleWomen.  Kelli's newest adventure is flying Second-in-Command for NE MT STAT Air Ambulance in Glasgow, MT.



Conni French

Conni ranches with her husband, in-laws, nephew and his wife south of Malta, Mt.  She and her husband (with the help of the community!) raised 3 children on the ranch.  Over the years she has been active in 4-H, local youth wrestling programs, Phillips County Cattlewomen, Ranch Management Consultants EL program, RSA, Montana Community Preservation Alliance, and Northwest Farm Credit Services.  She looks forward to working with the folks involved in RSA and others to improve the chance of success for the next generation of ranchers.

Leo Barthelmess

Leo Barthelmess is a former president of Ranchers Stewardship Alliance, past Director of the MT Stockgrowers Association, served as a president for the Highline wool pool, past president of the Phillips County Livestock Association, and serves as a Trustee for the state chapter of The Nature Conservancy. This third generation family ranch is a cow/calf operation that also produces sheep, hay and grass seed. The ranch has also been recognized as the region 5 recipient of the NCBA environmental stewardship award program in 2005.

Sheila Walsh

Sheila has been active in the cattle industry all her life.   Sheila’s family raised registered Angus cattle for 27 years.   After working at two different bull collection facilities, she moved to Malta where she joined her husband, Bud Walsh, on his ranch. She is active in the Phillips County Cattlewomen, Phillips County Museum and a board member of the St. Thomas Parish Council.




Vicki Olson

President of the Montana Public Lands Council

Vicki Olson is a third generation rancher from Phillips County, along with her husband, sister and brother-in-law. Her family has been on the ranch for 100 years. She is the President of the Montana Public Lands Council, past President of the Montana and local Cattlewomen, and a member of the National, state and local Stockgrowers.   She also serves as an EMT and 4-H volunteer.