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Tag-the FFA way

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By Claude Lewis

Heather Rucker, director of the Chiefland Middle School Future Farmers of America, is a woman on a mission.

She, along with her faithful FFA students, is on a drive to drum up sales for a specialty license plate being offered by the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles. The tag features the FFA emblem and on the bottom reads "Agricultural Education." Money raised from tag sales goes directly to Florida FFA.

Rucker was the guest speaker and chief salesperson at the April 16 Chiefland Rotary Club luncheon at Bell's Family Restaurant.

Not only will the tag sales help FFA statewide, but a super showing by the CMS chapter can earn a special visit from Florida Agricultural Commissioner Charles Bronson.

It's all part of a fun contest.

FFA chapters are encouraged to sell one plate for each member. In Chiefland Middle School's case, 30 plates would be batting 1.000.

The chapter with the highest percentage of plate sales based on their total membership will win a visit from Bronson, who will act as substitute teacher for a day, plus a "Fresh from Florida" feast prepared by Bronson's professional chef.

"We want Commissioner Bronson in our classroom," Rucker told the Rotarians. "We've sold three tags. We need 30 tags sold by April 30."

Many of the Rotarians seemed impressed and promised to respond.

Of course, the pleas of some of the FFA students present at the meeting seemed to help.

"We want to sell as many tags as possible because we don't want Ag programs removed," Meagan Morgan said.

With the state in a budget crisis, the threat of program cuts loom. Strong tag sales will no doubt show legislators that Agricultural Education programs are of the utmost importance, especially in rural counties like Levy.

Plus, the lure of great food is always incentive.

"We want to be the winning chapter so we can bring Commissioner Bronson's chef here to see how good his food is," said Hailey Bason.

To purchase the Agricultural Education license plate, visit your local tax collector/tag office and ask for the speciality plate. There is a one-time fee of $27 in addition to the normal renewal fee.

Be sure to fill out the plate verification form. This will credit the CMS FFA chapter for the tag sold.

"In case your tag is not up, you can buy a gift certificate," Rucker added.