While attending Iowa State University as a doctoral student, Chelsea Harbach discovered the Iowa Youth Crop Scouting Competition.
Today, Harbach is the commercial agriculture Extension educator at the University of Illinois. She says the purpose of the contest is for youth to develop a team and study crop scouting topics such as Integrated Pest Management, and identification of weeds, diseases and insects. Then teams compete against each other based upon their knowledge.
Interest in the Iowa event influenced her to develop the Illinois Crop Scouting Competition.
“When I came to Illinois Extension in Fall 2019, bringing a crop scouting competition to Illinois is something I definitely wanted to do,” Harbach says. “Having the connections that I do at Iowa State, I thought that I could be the one to make it happen.”
The Illinois Extension-sponsored event will be held Aug. 4 at the Crop Sciences Research and Education Center in Savoy, Ill. The details:
Open to high school students. Youth in ninth through 12th grades are encouraged to participate. In the future, organizers hope to expand eligibility to seventh and eighth grade students.
Team format. Students should create teams of two to five individuals led by an adult coach. The competition is designed so teams will rotate through different stations that test their knowledge.
Opportunity to advance. Based on judging by U of I staff, the top two teams will move on to the Midwestern regional competition.
Harbach hopes the inaugural event will get students eager to learn through hands-on crop scouting practice and will lead to repetitive engagement from several schools, clubs and other organizations.
“I’m looking forward to students being able to interact with people from Extension and with our faculty,” she says. “It would be great if this were a jumping off point for some students to study or stay involved in ag after high school.”
Free online registration for teams is available until July 1.