Every March, farmers in the county stop by the county clerk’s office to renew their license plates. But it also gives them an opportunity to contribute to youth organizations.

On Monday, Ryan Quarles, Ken­tucky’s commissioner of agriculture, visited the Hardin County Clerk’s office to promote the 2020 Ag Tag Campaign.

He talked with members, parents and volunteers of the county’s 4-H and Future Farmers of America.

“Ag tags” refer to farm vehicle license plates. When a purchase or renewal of a plate is made, a voluntary donation of $10 is asked for the Ag Tag Fund.

These donations within the fund are equally divided among Ken­tucky 4-H, Kentucky FFA and the Kentucky Department of Ag­ri­cul­ture for youth development and pro­mo­tional programs

Half of the 4-H and FFA money goes back to the county where the tag was purchased to support local programming, awards and scholarships.

Quarles said the program began about 10 years ago.

“These are voluntary donations from the farm community. It shows you the commitment Ken­tucky farmers have for 4-­H and FFA,” Quarles said.

He said the usual amount raised within the state is more than $600,000, with Hardin County consistently being in the top three counties with the most money raised.

“Often times at the county level, it helps make that trip to 4-H or FFA camp a little more affordable,” Quarles said.

He said the counties themselves decide how to spend the money.

Marla Stillwell, county extension agent for 4-H youth development, said the 4-H organization in Hardin County receive about $3,500 a year from the fund.

“Out of all the fundraising that we do all year that is a lot of money to get at one time,” Stillwell said.

She said they typically use it for various things including scholarships, sending volunteers to train and summer camp.

Olivia Reed, 4-H mem­ber for about eight years, said this money is important for the organization.

“It really gives us access to more opportunities that we wouldn’t have without it,” Reed said.

Jayna Thompson, ag­ri­culture teacher and FFA adviser at Central Har­din High School, said three chapters in the county receive money equally.

She said the Central Hardin chapter receives about $1,200 from the fund, which helps cover the cost for students who can’t afford certain opportunities at FFA.

“We try to not let them be financially deterred from our program,” Thompson said.

She said the money helps offset the cost for things such as con­fer­ences ja­ck­ets and camps.

Those wanting to donate but don’t necessarily have to renew plates can do so at their county clerk’s office.

Andrew Harp can be reached at 270-505-1747 or aharp@thenewsenterprise.com.

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