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Test your crop scouting knowledge

The first-ever Illinois Crop Scouting Competition aims to provide a new learning opportunity for future agriculturists.

Sierra Day

May 19, 2021

2 Min Read
cornfield at sunset
FIELD: High school students will head to the field and test their crop scouting knowledge at the first-ever Illinois Crop Scouting Competition in August. Holly Spangler

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.

About the Author(s)

Sierra Day

Field editor, Farm Progress

A 10th-generation agriculturist, Sierra Day grew up alongside the Angus cattle, corn and soybeans on her family’s operation in Cerro Gordo, Ill. Although she spent an equal amount in farm machinery as she did in the cattle barn as a child, Day developed a bigger passion for the cattle side of the things.

An active member of organizations such as 4-H, FFA and the National Junior Angus Association, she was able to show Angus cattle on the local, state and national levels while participating in contests and leadership opportunities that were presented through these programs.

As Day got older, she began to understand the importance of transitioning from a member to a mentor for other youth in the industry. Thus, her professional and career focus is centered around educating agriculture producers and youth to aid in prospering the agriculture industry.

In 2018, she received her associate degree from Lake Land College, where her time was spent as an active member in clubs such as Ag Transfer club and PAS. A December 2020 graduate of Kansas State University in Animal Sciences & Industry and Agricultural Communications & Journalism, Day was active in Block & Bridle and Agriculture Communicators of Tomorrow, while also serving as a communications student worker in the animal science department.

Day currently resides back home where she owns and operates Day Cattle Farm with her younger brother, Chayton. The duo strives to raise functional cattle that are show ring quality and a solid foundation for building anyone’s herd.

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