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Serving: IA
students in field
HANDS-ON LEARNING: Students identify pest and crop injury problems, and design management strategies during the contest.

Youth crop scouting competition sharpens skills

Five states will send student teams to regional contest in Iowa.

The Iowa State University Extension Integrated Pest Management program has announced 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 ISU Extension program in 2010 to educate Iowa high school students on field crop scouting. In 2013, the University of Nebraska and Purdue University, with help from ISU, began their own state crop scouting competition. Once a year, during summer, the winners from each state competition travel to a regional competition between the participating states to compete in tougher challenges.

Teams head to Iowa
“Last year, teams visited Nebraska to compete, and this year teams from all five states will come to Iowa,” says Maya Hayslett, crop science youth education specialist at ISU and organizer of the Iowa Youth Crop Scouting Competition. “It’s 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 crop injury problems, culminating in designing their own effective solutions and management strategies. During the competition, participants can interact with university faculty, staff and agronomists, as well as professionals in crop-related careers.

“University of Minnesota Extension and the Center for 4-H Youth Development are excited to be a part of this program opportunity,” says Brian McNeill, Minnesota Extension educator. “This opportunity fits great with the focus of agronomy that Minnesota is offering.”

Preparing next generation
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,” says 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.”

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