By Sharon Omahen
University of Georgia
Sports fans and animal lovers, make room. A new specialty license plate is available to Georgia drivers, and this one benefits students in two of the state's most popular youth groups.
The new "Support Agriculture in Georgia" tag will directly benefit Georgia's 4-H and FFA students.
A portion of each goes to 4-H, FFA
"Like other specialty tags, the agriculture tag costs a little more than your standard license plate," said Mary Ann Parsons, director of development for the Georgia 4-H Foundation. "But a portion of the extra cost goes to 4-H and FFA to fund special initiatives in each organization."
Before the new tags can be placed on vehicles, 1,000 tags must first be prepurchased. The initial tag manufacturing fee is $25, and the total tag fee is $45 annually, $25 of which is the specialty tag fee. The tag can be ordered through local tag offices.
State Director of Agricultural Education John K. Wilkinson said $10 of the fee will be divided between Georgia 4-H and FFA. "These funds will be used to support work that's relative to each organization's mission," he said, "and to promote agriculture, agriculture awareness and environmental education."
More than 200,000 students
An outreach program of the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Georgia 4-H serves 183,000 youths each year. FFA, a part of the Georgia Department of Education, serves 25,000 members. Both programs focus on leadership and personal and career development.
The new tag design was the brainchild of 4-H and FFA members in the 2005 Agriscience Governor's Honors Program students. They studied similar tags from other states before developing the design concept. Winder artist Mike Parsons transformed the students' concept into the tag's final design.
Committee and legislative support
"The 'ag tag' was proposed by Sen. Greg Goggans of Georgia's 7th District," Parsons said. "We're particularly grateful to the Governor's Agriculture Advisory Committee and the General Assembly members in both chambers for helping make this new tag fundraising venture possible."
Wilkinson and State 4-H Leader Roger "Bo" Ryles are coordinating a plan to promote the new tag, she said.
"This tag is a win-win-win project," Ryles said. "4-H will win, FFA will win and the students will win by receiving scholarships and access to programs that will increase their knowledge and understanding of the environment."
Others in the state will win, too, he said, because they'll be more aware of Georgia's largest industry, agriculture.
(Sharon Omahen is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)