AMES, Iowa —Iowa and Nebraska youth were first, second and third place winners in this year’s Regional Youth Crop Scouting Competition. Clayton County Team A (Iowa) received first place; Colfax County 4-H (Nebraska) received second place; and Clayton County Team B (Iowa) received third place.
The Regional Youth Crop Scouting Competition was held at the Field Extension Education Lab, in Boone, Iowa. The host of the regional competition rotates to a different state each year. This year’s competition featured youth teams from five states. New to this year’s regional competition were Minnesota and Kentucky, who began their own state competitions earlier this summer. Nine teams representing Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska and Kentucky competed this year.
“We are very excited to have had teams from two new states competing,” said Maya Hayslett, crop science youth educational specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, and organizer of the event. “I think it is a great experience for youth to learn about agriculture in other states. This year we included some team building activities so youth could build lasting relationships with one another.”
The Regional Crop Scouting Competition is designed to educate students through hands-on interaction in crop fields, through scouting for plant injury and identifying pest and situational problems. It culminates in the designing of individual 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, to learn about STEM related professions, prior to attending a college or post-high school program.
The competition also helps youth learn about the opportunities available in other states, see a world beyond their home town and have fun with other youth. Following the competition, youth were invited to attend a college tour of Iowa State University to learn about its campus and academic programs. Visiting the host state’s university is a part of the Regional Youth Crop Scouting Competition’s curriculum.
The Regional Youth Crop Scouting Competition initially began as an Iowa State University Extension and Outreach program in 2010 to educate high school-aged students about Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and the importance of scouting field crops in Iowa. In 2013, The University of Nebraska and Purdue University, with help from Iowa State, implemented their own crop scouting competitions.
Crop scouting and IPM are important tools for farmers 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.
When students were asked in a survey what they liked about the competition, they responded that it was fun and engaging with friendly staff. All team coaches surveyed reported that the competition helped students prepare for a future career in agriculture and helped them learn concepts of IPM, teamwork skills and communication skills.
Photo: Clayton County Team A from Iowa (From left: Lacie Orr, Cassidy Penrod, and Matt Whittle) won first place at the 2019 Regional Youth Crop Scouting Competition.
Photo: Colfax County 4-H, of Nebraska (From left: Steve Nelson - Coach, Jestin Bayer, Logan Nelson, Austin Steffensmeier, RJ Bayer, Aaron Nygren - Coach) won second place at the 2019 Regional Youth Crop Scouting Competition.