Nyssa teacher leaves the classroom to start new business

Melodie Ayarza, owner and operator of Four Rivers Auction, stands next to her daughter Shannon Ayarza and husband Juan Ayarza at their storefront in Ontario. (The Enterprise/Joe Siess)

ONTARIO – One place to find treasure in Treasure Valley is at a new locally owned family business in Ontario that specializes in auctioning consignment items. 

Whether you happen to be looking for a rare caponizing set used to castrate roosters, a baseball signed by the Oakland A’s from the 1970s, weathered post cards from the late 1800s, or an eclectic array of other beautiful and sometimes strange items, then Four Rivers Auction is a good place to start.  

The store is located at 1293 S.W. 4th Ave. in Ontario, and to bid or see what is currently up for auction, visit the store’s website at fourriversauction.com.

The place is owned and operated by Melodie Ayarza, a school teacher of seven years who once remotely operated a prototype space rover, got stuck on an airplane with a famous astronaut and who also used to trap gophers with daughter Shannon Ayarza every summer for $4 a tail.

Shannon and Ayarza’s husband, Juan Ayarza, help out at the store when they are available. Juan Ayarza has been farming since 2013 and used to work for EP Minerals, and now that farming season is coming to an end he plans to spend the winter months working at the store. Shannon comes in after school and on weekends to help out as well.

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The Ayarzas have a flock of sheep and livestock and have a farm between Nyssa and Adrian, and being farmers themselves, they are familiar with the auctioning process.

That familiarity prompted them to start their new business, which opened about a month ago.

The way it works is people bring in items for consignment, which are photographed and placed online for customers to bid on. The bidding can get pretty intense, Ayarza said.

Melodie Ayarza previously taught at Willowcreek Elementary School for three years and for the past four years taught fifth grade at Nyssa Elementary School.

“I kind of decided to retire, try a new adventure and be an entrepreneur,” Ayarza said.

Ayarza said that while owning her new business comes with its challenges, including long hours, “it is not as stressful as teaching.”

While teaching at Nyssa, she started the robotics program, and took five teams to state in three years.

One year, Ayarza traveled to New York City to attend the Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy, STEM teaching academy. While in New York, she got stuck on an airplane with astronaut Barbara Morgan, who was a presenter at the academy.

A couple of years later, she went to NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio.

There, Ayarza helped design wheels and tires for space rovers at NASA’s Simulated Lunar Operations Lab where, according to the agency’s website, “components are tested for their ability to navigate and investigate planetary surfaces.”

While there, Ayarza remotely operated a space rover prototype. 

“They made me think that I got it stuck,” Ayarza said. “It wasn’t stuck. They were just teasing me,” she recalled.

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