The new Peace River Valley Citrus Growers Association (PRVCGA) 4-H Citrus Club had a strong showing at the association’s annual meeting on Feb. 25 at the Turner Agri-Civic Center in Arcadia. Eighteen trees grown by club members were sold at the event. This included several grapefruit and tangerine trees that sold for more than $200 each, and the grand champion tree that fetched more than $400.
“This year our board of directors felt that it was important to invest in the future of the citrus industry, and that is how our club was started,” PRVCGA Executive Director Kait Shaw said. “PRVCGA partnered with Desoto County 4-H and created the PRVCGA 4-H Citrus Club. We had a total of 90 kids for our club’s first year.”
PRVCGA associate member Brite Leaf Citrus Nursery graciously donated 50 tangerine and 50 grapefruit trees for this year’s citrus club projects in late March 2019. “Since then, we met with our club once a month to educate the kids on what it really takes to be a Florida citrus grower,” said Shaw. “We touched on many topics during our monthly meetings. A few of those topics include keeping records of when the trees were treated for pests and weeds as well as more scientific topics like soil health and the anatomy of the trees. This year, the club’s president is Miss Kaydan Strickland, who had the opportunity to speak at the annual meeting.”
According to Shaw, PRVCGA encouraged the club members to be advocates for the citrus industry and created a photo/video contest with a $500 cash prize. The winner, fourth-grader Rylan Yauilla, was announced at the annual meeting, and the contest was featured in a video. The kids earned points for submitting a video or photo of themselves drinking orange juice, and they received an extra point if they were drinking Florida orange juice.
“We are very excited about the opportunity to be involved with 4-H, and our hope for this upcoming year is to have more of our members involved in the club’s projects. The kids will receive their trees in late March, and we have many exciting things planned, including field trips.”
Also included in the video are community events and schools where PRVCGA passed out free Florida OJ samples. The samples were shared in 34 schools and at 22 community events.
“This is a promotion plan created by our board of directors so that we can market OJ in our regional territory to remind people just how delicious and nutritious OJ is, and make our best efforts to promote our product, despite the decline in demand for OJ,” said Shaw. “The OJ brands are very supportive and have been very generous in donating juice to our promotional campaign, and it something we plan to do all next year.”
At the annual meeting, Shaw announced that PRVCGA’s only new officer is President R. Roy Petteway of Petteway Growers Citrus Nursery.
More than 320 attended the annual meeting, “better than in recent years,” Shaw said. “Growers are really showing up for these meetings, because they want to know what everybody’s opinions are,” she added. Shaw pointed out that declining demand for orange juice and recent low prices for fruit going into juice are some of the major issues concerning the region’s growers.
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