Meridian High School Principal Jill Lilienkamp shared of Wilder, “He is not afraid to stand up for what he believes will make students' educational environment better. He is constantly striving to bring in the best equipment, tools and resources for students to have hands on experiences which are real world and applicable to the paths they are choosing.”
Wilder was an advocate for and heavily involved in the design of the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Center at Meridian High School, enabling more student participation in programs with direct paths toward careers. He also provides valuable advising to Meridian’s Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter, recognized at both the state and national level. His influence in agricultural learning in West Ada School District has affected thousands of students’ educations.
“In Idaho, more than 60 percent of the land is owned and managed by state and federal agencies. The reality of living in Idaho’s resourced-based economy sets up many opportunities for students whose career choices may be in agricultural sciences, natural resources, or welding and construction,” Wilder explained. “As Dirty Jobs spokesperson Mike Rowe has stated, there are great jobs in career and technical education. Jobs and careers which are essential, important, should be respected, and in many cases highly valued and compensated.”
Seeing his students succeed beyond high school brings Wilder great joy. He feels creating a sense of family in his programs, and sharing a genuine interest in one another’s successes or failures, motivates students to attain higher levels of achievement. Wilder shared, “It surprises many people the ‘Go to College’ rate for CTE completers in Idaho is more than 63 percent, compared to only 47 percent for general education completers.” CTE programs promote academic achievement, personal skill development and career preparation through hands-on instruction and student organization activities.
“A desire to stay current with the needs of the students and community has led to the career and technical agricultural science program we have today,” shared Wilder. “Raising the bar for students, incredible teaching moments and involvement in the FFA organization keep me highly motivated as a teacher, along with a supportive school district, working with incredible co-teachers and staff, and a community who supports our program.”