Alumni Profile: Abigail Yeager

Name: Abigail (Backstrom) Yeager

Program, year: Ford Scholar, class of 2003

Undergrad school: BA, Business, CSU Chico

Grad school: MBA, CSU Chico

After graduation, I started working in Redding at Owens Healthcare; for 3 years I worked as a Project Manager and Executive Assistant for the Vice President/Marketing Director. During that time I married my now husband in July of 2010, Craig and we started a family. We have two boys, Hayden (now 5 years) and Cody (almost 3 years). In 2012, I resigned from Owens Healthcare to stay at home with my first child. At the end of 2012 my family moved home to Happy Camp, CA. Craig was born and raised in Happy Camp and although I had visited my grandparents in Happy Camp during my childhood, I only lived there for 2.5 years during high school; since then it has always felt like home to me. Professionally, I have contracted as a consultant with the Karuk Tribe on two projects in 2014 and 2015. Personally, I have been the Vice President of the Happy Camp Coordinating Council since 2013, a nonprofit that plans and organizes an annual 3-day event in Happy Camp called Bigfoot Jamboree over Labor Day Weekend. In 2015-16 I was the secretary for the Karuk Tribal Head Start Policy Council.

I am the Executive Director for Happy Camp Community Action, Inc., a 501c3 dedicated to youth, community and economic development in Happy Camp. In 2016, our nonprofit started the first certified Farmers Market in Happy Camp, California. Our 10 week market ran on Thursdays from July – September. The market was authorized to accept SNAP EBT benefits, WIC checks and Senior FMNP checks. We are now a Market Match partner with the Ecology Center, beginning July 1st, 2017 we can double up on SNAP EBT purchases. We are also working to reopen a 5,000 sq. foot building as Happy Camp’s first “Community Center”; we are planning to renovate it to include the Happy Camp Library and continue our current services, like First 5 Siskiyou and safety-net provider contracts with the county while also stepping into other areas of community need such as economic development (Farmers Market), seniors programs focused on aging in place, and a community garden program that is integrated with the schools (Head Start, Elementary and High School).

Happy Camp is a wonderful place to live and raise children but it is a struggling, rural community. When logging ended in the late 90’s, the industry wasn’t replace with anything sustainable and the community has suffered from the lack of jobs. The people who live here love Happy Camp and support their community in any way they can. More than anything I want to make a lasting difference here, no matter how big or small.  My biggest dream is to bring sustainable jobs back to Happy Camp.

My husband and I started a garden on our property in 2015 and in 2016 the growing garden inspired me to start a certified Farmers Market in Happy Camp to sell my surplus (as I hate waste). I had no idea how that one decision would affect my community in such a positive way. We started small but during the course of the market, 4 community members approached us, wanting to find out how to join the market as either a farm or value-added vendor. We provided them with the information and they certified their farm operation and joined the Happy Camp Farmers Market. All of those vendors are eager to participate in the 2017 market season.