AMES, Iowa — The Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Integrated Pest Management program announces the addition of two new university extension programs to the annual Regional Youth Crop Scouting Competition. Students participating in University of Minnesota and the University of Kentucky events will join students from Iowa, Nebraska and Indiana in the regional competition.
The Regional Youth Crop Scouting Competition initially began as an Iowa State University Extension and Outreach program in 2010 to educate Iowa high school-aged students on field crop scouting. In 2013, The University of Nebraska and Purdue University, with help from Iowa State, implemented their own state crop scouting competition. Once a year, during the summer, the winners from each state competition travel to a regional competition between the participating states to compete in tougher challenges.
“Last year, teams visited Nebraska to compete and this year teams from all five states will come to Iowa,” said Maya Hayslett, crop science youth education specialist at Iowa State and organizer of the Iowa Youth Crop Scouting Competition. “It is a great opportunity for youth to represent their state and showcase what they have learned.”
The Youth Crop Scouting Competition is designed to educate students through hands-on interaction in crop fields, scouting for injury and identifying pest and injury problems, culminating in designing their own effective solutions and management strategies. During the competition, participants receive the opportunity to interact with university faculty, staff and agronomists as well as professionals in crop-related careers.
“The University of Minnesota Extension and the Center for 4-H Youth Development are excited to be a part of this program opportunity,” said Brian McNeill, extension educator of the University of Minnesota Extension. “This opportunity fits great with the focus of agronomy that Minnesota is offering.”
Crop scouting and IPM are important tools farmers use to increase economic returns while reducing unintended environmental impacts. Equipping future farmers and agronomists with crop scouting skills and basic IPM information will help the next generation of farm decision-makers with crop production and land stewardship.
“These competitions are often the students' first introduction to the important concept of integrated pest management in field crops. They are a great opportunity for youth to get hands-on experience in agriculture,” said Kiersten Wise, University of Kentucky extension plant pathologist. “Participating in these events gives youth a broader knowledge of the challenges that farmers and the agriculture industry face each year.”
PHOTO: Students apply crop scouting skills during 2018 local competition.