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PSB updated on OYEA program

By Staff, 01/28/20 10:09 AM

PRESCOTT – It was board appreciation night at the January meeting of the Prescott School Board Monday night.

The members of the board were presented with plaques in appreciation of their service to the Prescott School District. Former Board President Patricia Blake was also honored for her 23 years on the board. The Prescott Ministerial Alliance presented the district a plaque to show it’s appreciation for what the school means to the community.

From there, the bulk of the meeting was an update on the agriculture education program – Organization for Youth Education in Agriculture (OYEA). Fred Harris, one of the program’s originators, was on hand to tell the board what’s going on with the program.

He pointed out it’s a 501(c)3 organization which has raised around $130,000 for the program, with roughly 75 people donating money, time and in-kind labor. The money has been used to build a new barn and upgrade the old barn. The program has also purchased animals and feed for students to raise and show at county, district and state fairs. Harris said the program began with 22 students in its first year, but the district doubled the classes and now there are 43 students involved. The students, he said, are excited to be in the program, and middle school children come to the barn weekly to check the animals out.

At this time, he continued, there are eight bred hogs who should have their litters in March or April. This should be in time for the spring sale so students can get them ready to show in county fairs. Show hogs, he added, bring between $200-$300 each while meat hogs sell for around $50 each. Last year the program raised $3,200 from the sale of animals. The goal this year is $7,000, which will be roughly half what the program needs to stay operational. Harris told the board there are also three goats and seven sheep, all bred and expecting to give birth in March or April.

Some students, he said, will be showing pigs at spring shows and at last year’s Nevada County Fair, three members of the program raised about $3,000 at the premium sale. Harris said the program pays all the costs on the animals while the students keep the sale money. This gives them incentive to do the work necessary and to get others interested.

Plans for the summer include cross fencing the 10 acres of pastureland to keep the sheep, goats and cattle separate and rotate them out. The goal is to develop bermuda grass pastures for the animals. He pointed out the students don’t just work with animal science, but are taught pasture control and grass maintenance as these are important aspects of ranching.

Projects completed for the program include: the large barn being insulated with blown-in insulation and an overhead gas heater added; a 12-ton grain bin with auger installed; a tractor shed has been built; cross fencing to separate the three pastures; water pipes and troughs with automatic pumps installed in each pasture; eight loads of gravel were brought in to improve the road around the barn, and books were bought for the animal science classes.

Future plans include: buying a squeeze chute and corral panels; buying a large animal weight scale, microscopes and other science equipment; improving the pasture grasses; and removing brush and trees to increase the farm’s usable pasture.

Harris told the board this may be a one-of-a-kind program in the state.

In other business, the board approve $23,214 to buy a new pole vault pit as the current one is 16-years-old. Robert Poole, superintendent, said he got three bids for this equipment and Southwest Sporting Goods had the lowest one. He pointed out Prescott will be hosting the AAA State track meet this year.

As to enrollment, the total number of students in the district is 914. There are 314 at Prescott Elementary School, 308 at Prescott Junior High School and 292 at Prescott High School.

Poole said security upgrades will begin for PHS and PJHS soon, and the district is in the design phase for the new PES building. He told the board the district should break ground on the new building this summer.