Widgetized Section

Go to Admin » Appearance » Widgets » and move Gabfire Widget: Social into that MastheadOverlay zone

Board updated on OYEA program

By Staff, 10/13/21 11:24 AM

PRESCOTT – Fred Harris and Darren Neal presented the Prescott School Board with an update on the OYEA program at its October meeting Tuesday night.

The organization, Harris said, has existed for three years, but took a hit when COVID arrived, with this being the first real year it’s been able to do much of anything. OYEA, he reminded the board, is a 501(c)3 organizations and all donations are tax deductible. Through donations and grants, the program has raised $205,000.

Dennis Guidry is the full-time instructor and has helped the program grow. Debbie Maxwell has helped volunteering to work with the animals.

Money raised are used to buy livestock, equipment and supplies the program requires. OYEA provides feed and care for the animals, while students work with them. Now, the program has two registered Black Angus cows, with one calf on the ground, six Suffolk Cross sheep, eight show hogs, five sows with 12 piglets and around 20 rabbits. With elementary students getting interested in the program, Harris said, OYEA is looking to double its rabbit hutch.

This school year, he continued, has been the most exciting yet as more students have been exhibiting animals than ever. At the Nevada County Fair Premium Sale, 33 students showed animals, with 20 from the OYEA program. Eleven students showed 16 animals at the Southwest District sale, with one taking first place, one second and one third in their class divisions. These students will be heading to Little Rock to show their animals at the Arkansas State Fair later this week.

Harris continued, saying the OYEA board set a goal for the farm to be self-sufficient in five years. However, he added, this goal could be reached in the next two years, partially through the sale of livestock raised on the farm, along with the OYEA Whole Hog Sausage program. The sausage programĀ  is a year-round fundraising effort that started this past April. Hogs raised on the school farm are taken to a USDA processing plant and made into one-pound packages of breakfast and summer sausage. To date, he said, four hogs have been processed with two more to be taken in November. Since its inception, the program has generated $5,200 in sales. When this program is fully established, he continued, it should generate enough money to fund 60 percent of the farm’s expenses. Sausages can be ordered online from the programs website at OYEAPNC.ORG.

The farm continues to expand, with an additional barn being built with a grant from the Arkansas Farm Bureau Foundation of $10,000 and $4,000 from Farmer’s Bank. The barn is a 16×40 foot barn used to house breeding sows and store bulk shavings. Other items added to the farm this year were: a squeeze cute with a corral, a set of weight scales and several microscopes.

Students in the program are learning more than just how to care for and raise livestock. Harris said the program uses artificial insemination to constantly improve the stock. Additionally, it started using embryo transplants to improve the genetics of its goat herd. Last month fertilized embryos were successfully transplanted into two of the programs goats. OYEA will be extending this to the cattle with the help of Dr. Looney with the University of Arkansas Experiment Station. Students are getting first-hand experience in state-of-the-art techniques used in livestock management.

Plans are for students to participate in more livestock shows and events, not just fairs. This, Harris said, will require a large livestock trailer for transportation. As of now, the program has applied for a $10,000 grant toward the purchase of a trailer and is looking for other funds as well.

Harris pointed out the OYEA program is the only one of its kind in any high school in the state.

He closed by talking about a program which would allow the program to rotate new trucks in on a regular basis. Cowboy Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram has a program where school districts can buy a new Rm 2500 diesel crew cab 4×4 at the state fleet pricing for one or two years or 20,000 miles, with the company buying the truck back at the price the district paid. Districts can get a new truck for the difference in the price of a new one, still at the state fleet pricing. Said vehicles will have to have an FFA insignia/school name/logo and “Powered by Cowboy Dodge” on it. He asked the board to consider participating in the program as it would be less expensive than having to purchase used trucks.