From across Iowa, 24 students in grades 8 through 12 tested their Integrated Pest Management skills by completing several tasks and challenges on July 30. It was the 10th year of the Iowa Youth Crop Scouting Competition but it is the first time it has been conducted virtually.
The goal of the contest is to educate Iowa youth on the basics of integrated pest management, to understand the importance of IPM for increasing economic returns and reducing the unintended environmental impacts of agriculture. The competition was created to increase high school students’ awareness of Iowa agriculture using hands-on learning and teamwork.
Teams use Iowa State University Extension resources, as well as publications from industry and other universities to study for the competition. The top three teams receive cash prizes. This year, all youth participants received field guides and other scouting tools, thanks to support from Corteva, the Iowa Soybean Association, Environmental Tillage Systems, the Iowa Soybean Research Center and the Iowa Independent Crop Consultants Association.
Videos of pest problems
“Usually the competition is a one-day event where teams gather at the Field Extension Education Laboratory and explore the plots there, looking for pests and disorders,” says Maya Hayslett, ISU Extension youth crop science education specialist and program organizer. “For safety, we were not able to gather this year, but I wanted to provide a similar experience and achieve the same learning goals.”
Randall Kuhlmann, ISUFIRST PLACE: The winning Crawford County team was led by Randall Kuhlmann. From left are Tom Welch, Maci Kaub, Ethan Holdsworth, Emma Reisz and Cole Carlson.
The students explored crop fields near them and created videos of pest problems they identified. The videos were reviewed by crop science professionals and the youth received feedback on their presentations. In addition to video submissions, participants also met with judges via video conference to answer questions, make diagnoses and demonstrate their pest management knowledge.
During video conferences, judges asked questions and contestants diagnosed field issues using photos and videos. Video conference stations focused on general principles of IPM, abiotic injury, pesticide use and sprayer calibration, and growth stages and crop morphology. Specialists tested each team's knowledge on the topic at hand, but also took the time to talk with the youth and answer questions.
Learning the principles of IPM
The goal of the competition is to both test and increase students’ knowledge in the areas of IPM, crop growth and pest identification, as well as demonstrate the many careers available in agriculture. Surveyed after they completed the contest, the youth reported high levels of learning in general principles of IPM.
Earning first place in the competition was Kuhlman Seed, from Crawford County, with members Tom Welch, Maci Kaub, Ethan Holdsworth, Emma Reisz and Cole Carlson.
Suzanne Shirbroun, ISUSECOND PLACE: The second-place Clayton County team was led by Joe and Suzanne Shirbroun. From left are Nick Deitchler, Ben Gibson and Nate Shirbroun.
Three teams led by Joe and Suzanne Shirbroun of Clayton County took the next three spots:
- Second. Ben Gibson, Nate Shirbroun and Nick Deitchler
- Third. Avery Wessel, Nathaniel Gaul and Keaton Klingman
- Fourth. Laci Orr, Lane Orr, Brandon Whittle and Tristan Weigand