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End of an Ag Education era at Choteau High School

Milford Wearly.png
Posted at 6:06 PM, May 22, 2024

CHOTEAU — For 40 years, Milford Wearly has been teaching students more than just the nuts and bolts of agricultural education.

Wearly is in the homestretch 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 Ag teacher, John Nauck, who had held the position since 1949.

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

Wearly 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 Wearly. “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 Wearly 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, Wearly 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 Wearly.

He’s also developed lasting relationships with fellow teachers, like Industrial Arts teacher Mike 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 a friendship, but we won't be colleagues.”

Wearly 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 Wearly. “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, Wearly has some advice for today’s students.

“Hopefully everyone will take advantage of the opportunities that are given them in high school,” said Wearly. “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, Wearly has a lot to be proud of.

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

The school has yet to hire Wearly’s replacement. While his successor may not last for 40 years, that person will be coming to a great situation.

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