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End of an Ag Education era at Choteau High School

Milford Wearly.png
Posted at 9:25 AM, May 23, 2024

CHOTEAU — For 40 years, Milford Wearley has been teaching students more than just the nuts and bolts of agricultural education. Wearley is in the home stretch of a teaching career that began in Malta in 1981.

He grew up in Choteau but graduated from Augusta High School. He always hoped he’d come back to Choteau, and when he did, he replaced his former Ag teacher, John Nauck, who had held the position since 1949.

Choteau High School ag teacher retires after 40+ years

“We've had two ag teachers here in the department for the last 75 years,” said Wearley. “So that is something that I take pride in and I think Mr. Nauck does as well.”

Wearley says he’s seen a lot of changes in ag education over the years.

“Really, we went from what we call a real production based agricultural education program to more of a of leadership and lifelong lessons,” said Wearley. “Most kids that I have now are probably not going to go into production agriculture.”

One student who does plan on a career in production agriculture is junior Logan Yeager.

“He's actually given me a lot of good opportunities to learn about the agronomy and stuff behind the plants I’m growing,” said Yeager. “I'm also looking at going into the field of diesel industries after high school.”

Yeager says Wearley and another teacher have helped him start a test pilot program for an apprenticeship with John Deere through the high school.

Maintaining a sense of humor, Wearley has taught hundreds if not thousands of students, including Logan’s dad.

But he has not taught any former students' grandchildren.

“I always said if I ever got grandkids, it would definitely be the end,” joked Wearley.

He’s also developed lasting relationships with fellow teachers, like Industrial Arts teacher Mark McCormick.

“Yeah, he’ll leave a hole and be missed,” said McCormick. “He's not going to move anywhere, I don't think. We'll still have our friendship, but we won't be colleagues.”

Wearley says he doesn’t really have anything planned for retirement but knows he will remain connected to ag education.

“The field of agriculture is pretty vast. So right now I'm just looking forward to just stepping back for a little bit,” said Wearley. “I’ll still stay involved in FFA (Future Farmers of America) because there’s lots of things to do, lots of places to volunteer, contests to put on.”

After 40 years in Choteau, and 43 years as a teacher, Wearley has some advice for today’s students.

“Hopefully everyone will take advantage of the opportunities that are given them in high school,” said Wearley. “I see more and more students who aren’t sure what they want to do. I hope they at least get something out of their education that leads them to do something better as far as where they want to live and hat they want to do.

From his longevity in the classroom to his student’s achievements, Wearley has a lot to be proud of.

“I got to teach my own kids too, and they went through the program,” said Wearley. “That was that was what I consider the best years that I had in teaching , getting to teach my own kids.”

“It’s a great place to live, great place to grow up, a great place to raise a family,” said Wearley.