Venison in the Vines raises funds for Oredigger scholarships

Lucas Paugh, Cindy, and Chancellor Les Cook at Venison in the Vines

What started several years ago as an informal cookout between friends has grown into a successful annual fundraiser for Montana Tech. 

Venison in the Vines

Lucas Paugh (B.S. Occupational Safety and Health, '05, M.S. Industrial Hygiene, '14) is vice-chair of the Montana Tech Alumni Association’s Bakersfield, California Chapter and co-founder of Venison in the Vines, a private event held at Steinbeck Vineyards and Winery in Paso Robles, California. His co-partner, Ryan Newkirk, is a 6th generation member of the Steinbeck family and oversees all the operations of the vineyard and winery.

“Our goal is connecting the community through locally sourced venison and wine.” Paugh said. “We harvest a couple deer annually on the vineyard, pair that venison with the wine from the very grounds where both were gathered, along with many wild game appetizers. It’s a fun full circle event and know the proceeds go to a great cause.”

Venison in the Vines

The guest list is limited to around 75 people.

“It’s a good mixture of different people in agriculture, the outdoor industry, and in oil and gas,” Paugh said.

Venison in the Vines

The venison is cooked using the flip-flop method, where the whole hindquarter of venison is seared over hot coals, similar to Brazilian-style barbecue.

Venison in the Vines

In addition to a world-class dinner, guests can bid on exceptional silent auction offerings which help fund scholarships for future Orediggers.

“The vision was to create an endowment to offer a yearly scholarship to a local or California student who wants to pursue higher education at Montana Tech,” Paugh said.

The endowment has grown to allow the chapter annually to give away two $1,000 scholarships.

“It’s always a great feeling to give back to something that gave you so much.” Paugh said. Anyone interested in donating to the silent auction or scholarship can reach out to Paugh at