The OYEA non-profit group has an agreeable name and a growing influence on youth in Prescott and Nevada County. And because of the success of Tuesday night’s fundraising banquet, the Organization for Youth Education in Agriculture will have $42,000 in its budget to continue its work teaching students the skill of animal husbandry.
Co-founder of the group, Fred Harris, a pharmacist who sits on OYEA’s 5-member all volunteer board of directors, said the banquet, which featured numerous ways its 276 ticket-buying attendees could give to the organization, was a “huge success,” raising the aforementioned $42,000 total when the target amount had been $25,000. “It’s the most successful thing we’ve done,” he said.
The pandemic and other matters had set back earlier attempts to fundraise in the past two years, but the first annual OYEA Banquet, which board members and students alike contributed their labor to putting on, proved successful, involving ticket sales, the sales of raffle tickets for prizes (porch swings, deer feeders, pork), smoked Tyson Chicken courtesy of the Prescott Fire Department, sides provided by the Prescott Police, bucket raffle drawing and draw down raffle drawing.
OYEA also took orders for breakfast sausage, breakfast sausage patties, smoked summer sausage and pork chops raised in its Whole Hog Sausage program.
Former OYEA student Quantas Gulley, a 2019 Prescott High graduate and current SAU Agri-business major spoke about the benefits of his experience in the program and advised current OYEA students present to keep pursuing their interest in raising livestock.
Prescott High Agricultural Science teacher Dennis Guidry spoke to describe his own career teaching at Ashdown for 30 years, then Camden Fairview, then, after trying a restful retirement without success, returning to full-time work again at Prescott High, where he had been volunteering, after receiving a phone call from the high school principal Tommy Poole. “He said, ‘Hey, do you want a job?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, would that be half time or full time. He says, ‘Whatever you want.’”
In his speech, Guidry also recognized the success of several students in the OYEA program:
- Chris Walker “showed goats, and he also showed rabbits.”
- Julian Stafford, “a young man of not many words, but he certainly has a work ethic.” He raised a Reserve Champion Goat, as recognized at the Nevada County Fair. “You could set your clock by him. If I came to the barn, he was there every morning and every evening.”
- Jean Swinney “showed goats and also showed rabbits.”
- Alivia Quidera, “another one you can set your clock by.”
- Chase Dice “showed a calf” and was “grand English at the [Nevada] County Fair and Reserve Commercial.”
- Haylie Pickett. “She loves the sheep, and she showed the sheep, and it was Third Champion at the [Nevada] County Fair.” Also competed at the Arkansas State Fair.
- Dacey Faulkner, Ainsley Rothenberger, Jermeire Purifoy, Levi Morrison and Haylie Pickett all showed hogs.
- Joleigh Smith’s animal won Grand Hog and was selected to come back and compete in the showmanship category in which she placed Twelfth Overall.
- Colbie Walls’ animal won Reserve Champion.
- Haylie Pickett’s animal was Third Overall.
- Dacey Faulkner’s animal placed Fourth.
- Ainsleigh Rothenberger’s placed Fifth.
- Jermeire Purifoy showed a Duroc Hog. That category is very competitive but Purifoy’s hog plaved third in his class in a field of 27. About Purifoy’s hog, Guidry said, “There was buzz at the barn all week,” and he said of Purifoy, “He’d stay at the barn if his parents would allow him to have a cot.”
- Bella Wingfield, who also works with caddle, raised rabbits.
- Madison Eisley placed Fourth for rabbits.
- Drake Givens, who serves as student teacher from Southern Arkansas University, “helped at the State Fair and District Fair. “I’m certain that if he wants to teach, he will be very successful.”
Guidry closed by saying, “I’m very humbled in terms of what’s going on here, and hopefully we’ll continue this and just get better and better.”