Iowa's First Annual Crop Scouting Competition for Youth

Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension
Iowa State University

Title of Success Story

Iowa’s First Annual Crop Scouting Competition for Youth

Public Value (now or future)
(Impact:  Who benefits beyond participants and how?  What conditions changed?)

As a result of this project, those making future management decisions for the two largest crops grown in Iowa, corn and soybean, may be better equipped to scout fields. Learning crop scouting information can result in an increase of its application among future corn and soybean farmers and agronomists. The result of applying crop scouting principles could mean a decrease in the amount of pesticide applications, saving time and money and preventing unnecessary applicator, non-target organism, and environmental pesticide exposure risk for the two largest crops grown in Iowa, corn and soybean.

Also, during the preparation for the contest, students learned crop scouting principles and applied those principles by developing a pre-prepared scouting report and benefited their communities through a community service project.

(Why is it important to address this issue with education?  What are the desired changes?)

A dramatic shift in attitude towards pesticide use on row crops in recent years is cause for environmental, human health and economic concern. Currently, the perceived importance of integrated pest management (IPM) principles is declining, making efforts to educate both the current and next generation of growers and agronomists, as well as the general public, increasingly important. The goal of this project is to increase the foundation of IPM knowledge among corn and soybean growers and agronomists.

(Outputs: activities, numbers reached, publications, products)

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach obtained funding from the North Central IPM Center and USDA-NIFA, and was supported by the Iowa Soybean Association and Pioneer Hi-Bred, to hold the first annual Crop Scouting Competition for secondary students in Iowa.

On August 19, 2011, the Crop Scouting Competition was held at the ISU Extension Farm near Ames, Iowa. A 14-part curriculum was developed and distributed (along with other materials) to agriculture teachers throughout Iowa and this could be used to help prepare participants for the competition. During the first year, there were thirteen student participants composing three teams and an individual. Teams were to prepare a community service project and a scouting report before the competition. Projects varied in complexity and quality and utilized different mediums including video and presentations to peers. Competition events included a written test and 10 in-field exercises covering a variety of topics such as soybean and corn insects, crop staging, weed identification, soybean cyst nematode, sudden death syndrome and other soybean and corn diseases. Students rotated through the field stations and were judged on their combined abilities as a team by ISU Extension and Outreach faculty and staff and others. Winners were provided with prizes and monetary awards donated by Pioneer Hi-Bred. Lunch and refreshments were provided, as well as additional field guides, t-shirts, notebooks, pens, and magnifying glasses. During the competition, adult team leaders attended a lecture on insect specimen saving. We learned valuable lessons from our first scouting competition and will implement this knowledge as we plan for the 2012 competition.

RESULTS (Outcomes:  specific changes that occurred in Learning, Actions, Conditions; how outcomes were measured)

During the 2011 competition, a survey was conducted of team leaders attending the scouting competition. Out of the categories “Disagree,” “Somewhat Disagree,” Somewhat Agree,” and “Agree,” all respondents indicated “Agree” to the following statements:  “Preparing for the Crop Scouting Competition was a useful learning tool for students,” “The Crop Scouting Competition itself was a useful learning tool for students,” and “The Prepared Scouting Report was a useful learning tool for students.”

Desired Changes

Learning crop scouting components can lead to implementing crop scouting, potentially resulting in improved conditions (environmental and human benefits).

Extension Lead(s)
(name, position, counties served, contact information)

Adam Sisson, IPM Specialist; Daren Mueller, IPM Program Director and Extension Plant Pathologist; Jay Staker, Extension 4-H; Clarke McGrath, Extension Field Specialist

Your Position

­­­­­_____Field                                        _____Campus                         __x__Both

POW # and Team

 ­­­­­_X___100 Corn and Soybean Production and Protection
­­­­­_____ 110 Dairy
­­­­­_____ 120 Farm and Business Management
­­­­­_____ 130 Horticulture: Commercial and Consumer
­­­­­_____ 140 Iowa Beef Center
­­­­­_____ 150 Iowa Pork Industry Center
­­­­­_____ 160 Natural Resources and Stewardship

ANR Priority (select all that apply)

­­­­­_____Global Food Security and Hunger
­­­­­_____Regional Food Systems
­­­­­__X__Natural Resources & Environmental Stewardship
­­­­­_____Food Safety
­­­­­_____Sustainable Energy – Biofuels & Biobased Products
­­­­­_____Climate Change

Knowledge Areas: (USDA categories)


Continuing Story

____ No                __x___  Yes (If continuing, what story?)
The second competition will be held July 31, 2012.

Major Partners or Collaborators

Iowa Soybean Association and Pioneer Hi-Bred

Where story took place
(Region, campus, multi-regional)

Campus and local

Fiscal Year


Multi-state or Integrated (Ext + Research)


Funding Source

North Central Integrated Pest Management Center and USDA-NIFA




Page last updated: February 28, 2012
Page maintained by Julie Honeick,