‘Irreplaceable’ teacher retires after 40 years

When Steve Wilder became an agricultural science teacher in 1979, he had no plans of teaching for more than five years. He wanted to get experience in the classroom and then work in the agriculture industry.

Forty years later, he has four months until he retires from Meridian High School.

“Education just seemed to fit,” he said. “I’ve never been bored with my job.”

Wilder, 63, taught one year at Marsing High before he went to Meridian High where he’s taught since. Wilder is also a Meridian High graduate.

“I came full circle back to the place that sparked the agriculture interest,” he said.

Both students and the agriculture industry have changed during his tenure. So has the way it’s taught. He transitioned his agricultural classes to make learning relevant to students by developing agricultural business, agricultural science, horticulture and specialized mechanics.

“The value of career technical education is becoming more real and fits a need, and equally high paying jobs,” he said.

Wilder teaches welding, small animal care, veterinary science and advanced sales and leadership.

“Interaction with kids is what I will miss most,” he said. “Kids make me laugh every day.”

Wilder was involved with the design of the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Center at Meridian High, which directs students down a path toward a career. He helped grow the West Ada School District agricultural program from three to 13 teachers, nine of which are former students of his.

“Steve has been the foundation and backbone of the CTE program for the West Ada School District,” said Jill Lilienkamp, the principal at Meridian High School. “He will be missed greatly and is irreplaceable.”

Wilder is also an advisor for Meridian’s Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter, recognized at both the state and national level. Wilder received the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Agriculture for Education and Advocacy by the Idaho Ag Summit in 2017.

“Adults in our community have great lives because of the things he taught them and the value of hard work that he instilled in them through the FFA program and leadership,” Lilienkamp said.

Wilder will retire at the end of the school year. He plans to travel with his wife and work on his 13-acre ranch where he has 175 sheep.

“I still want to stay engaged in the community, but looking forward to what is next,” he said.

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