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Packed house for OYEA coffee

By John Miller, 03/8/22 5:31 PM

PRESCOTT – There was a packed house for the OYEA coffee Tuesday morning at the Nevada County Library’s conference room.

Fred Harris, one of the founders of OYEA, which stands for Organization for Youth Education in Agriculture, started with an idea around five years ago, but got derailed by the COVID pandemic. Harris told the crowd it’s an all volunteer organization with 501(c)3 status, meaning all donations can be used as tax deductions.

The group raised around $30,000 to get started and has since raised roughly $250,000. OYEA, located behind the bus barn on the Prescott High School campus, now has thee barns for rabbits, goats, sheep, pigs and cattle.

Harris informed the audience most of the snacks on the table were from animals raised by students in the OYEA program as there were several sausage-based treats, including sausage biscuits and sausage balls. He said selling sausage is one of the program’s major fundraisers, and the meat is processed at a USDA approved plant.

Darren Neal, another founder, said there were 10 acres at the school not being used. At the time, Neal was the county agent for the Nevada County Extension Service. He was contacted by the district, checked the property out to see what would be needed to get it operational and the rest, as it’s said, is history. The decision was made to start a farm on the land with 4-H and FFA students being involved.

OYEA, he pointed out, was for students who’s parents aren’t involved with agriculture, but may have an interest. OYEA provides the animals and feed, but students are required to raise and care for the animals they choose. The students get to show their animals at the Nevada County Fair, keeping anything made at the premium livestock sale. Should they be good  enough, they can move on to the district and state fairs.

Dennis Guidry was brought on to run the program and farm. Guidry was retired prior to being called by Superintendent Robert Poole who asked if he’d be interested in teaching. Guidry agreed and told the group he wants to be involved in all aspects of the OYEA program. He said they have a judging team and students will be going to the district and, possibly, state convention in April. His goal is to go to the nationals in the next year or so.

Harris said OYEA began with about 15 students and now has around 50 in the program. He reminded everyone sausage patties, summer sausage and hot and mild breakfast sausage can be purchased through OYEA.