Twenty-nine youth from five states tested their integrated pest management skills and knowledge during the Regional Youth Crop Scouting Competition on Sept. 9. Youth participants, team coaches and expert judges joined using a virtual conference system for a morning of teamwork, learning and fun.
The Regional Youth Crop Scouting Competition provided an opportunity for youth to participate in a multi-state competition. The top two teams from each state competition were invited to compete at the regional competition. The 2021 competition included returning states Iowa, Nebraska, Indiana, Minnesota and Kentucky, and it welcomed Illinois as a new member this year.
This year there was a tie for first place. First-place winners were La Rue County FFA from Kentucky and Clayton County Team No. 1 from Iowa. Second place went to Clayton County Team No. 2 from Iowa, and third place went to Heritage Hills FFA from Indiana.
The regional competition is a chance for youth to see the larger picture of crop production and pest management by working with faculty and staff from multiple state institutions, Iowa program organizers said. Although Iowa youth were not able to visit another state this year, they were still able to meet ag professionals from other states and hear their perspective on pest management issues.
The 2021 Regional Youth Crop Scouting Competition started with a live quiz game, where teams worked together to answer general questions about crop scouting and integrated pest management. Youth also met with judges via videoconference to answer questions, make diagnoses and demonstrate their pest management knowledge. Topics included pest identification, pest management, crop disorders, crop staging and responsible pesticide use. Specialists tested each team's knowledge on the topic at hand, but also took time to talk with the youth and answer questions.
Iowa program organizers say the goal of the competition is to educate Iowa youth on the basics of integrated pest management, fostering a lifetime of understanding about the concepts and importance of IPM, thus improving quality of life by increasing economic returns and reducing the unintended environmental impacts of agriculture.
On surveys, youth reported improved knowledge of crop scouting procedures because of participation in the contest. All youth found the contest content to be relevant and enjoyed working with the judges. When asked what they liked about the competition, responses included that it was fun, that they enjoyed working on a team, and that they enjoyed both showing their knowledge and learning new things.
For more information, visit the Iowa Youth Crop Scouting Competition website.
Hayslett is an Iowa State University Extension program specialist.