Thirty-six youth in grades 7-12 from across Iowa tested their integrated pest management skills through several tasks and challenges, both in the field and in the classroom, during the 11th annual Iowa Youth Crop Scouting Competition on July 26.
The event, hosted by the Iowa State University Integrated Pest Management Program and Iowa 4-H Youth Development, provided youth with the opportunity to work with and learn from Iowa State faculty, staff and agronomists, as well as professionals in crop-related careers. Ten teams from seven locations competed at the Field Extension Education Laboratory in Boone, Iowa. The teams prepared months in advance for a chance to win cash prizes and an opportunity to compete with teams from Illinois, Minnesota, Kentucky, Nebraska and Indiana at the Regional Crop Scouting Competition on Sept. 9.
The annual competition tested and increased students’ knowledge in the areas of IPM, crop growth and pest identification, as well as demonstrated the many careers available in agriculture, according to Maya Hayslett, crop science youth education specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach.
Field stations focused on crop management of corn and soybeans and included insects, weeds, diseases, abiotic injury, pesticide use and sprayer calibration, and growth stages and crop morphology. This year a station on cover crops was added. Specialists tested each team’s knowledge on the topic at hand and also answered questions. In addition, youth were given a written test to evaluate their knowledge about IPM principles and best practices to ensure individual team member mastery. After judging was complete, youth enjoyed lunch and team building activities so teens who traveled from all over the state could get to know each other, Hayslett said.
Receiving first place in this competition was Clayton County Team Number Two followed by Clayton County Team Number One in second place. Two teams tied for third place, Clayton County Team Number Three and Midland FFA. Clayton County teams were led by Joe and Suzanne Shirbroun. Midland FFA was led by Jaime Christiansen. In fourth place was Diamond Trail FFA led by Andrew Geer. These top five winning teams received a cash prize for their accomplishments, while the top two teams from Clayton County will be advancing to the regional competition.
Awards, lunch and other event support were made possible by the following sponsors: Corteva Agriscience, Iowa 4-H Foundation, Bayer, United Soybean Board, Farmer’s Edge, Iowa Independent Crop Consultants Association, Iowa Certified Crop Advisors and Environmental Tillage Systems.
The goal of the Iowa Youth Crop Scouting 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 and thus improving quality of life by increasing economic returns and reducing the unintended environmental impacts of agriculture, Hayslett noted.
“Equipping future farmers and agronomists with crop scouting skills will help the next generation of farm decision makers with crop production and land stewardship. The competition was created to increase high school students’ awareness of Iowa agriculture using hands-on learning and teamwork.” Hayslett said.