The Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Integrated Pest Management program will host the sixth annual Crop Scouting Competition for Iowa Youth on Aug. 2 at the ISU Field Extension Education Laboratory at Boone in central Iowa. The location is at 1928 240th Street—a few miles east of Boone.
High school students (those completing grades 9 to 12) from Iowa are invited to put their crop scouting skills to the test, competing against other Iowa youth teams from across the state. In addition to team competition, the goal of the event is to bring awareness to Iowa agriculture and learn more about integrated pest management basics through hands-on learning and teamwork.
Contest teaches crop scouting skills, and much more
“It’s been really great to see these young students embrace the idea of learning about what’s going on in the fields and using that information either to help them with summer employment or even with determining what they’re going to study in college,” says Daren Mueller, Extension plant pathologist and IPM program coordinator at ISU.
Joe and Suzanne Shirbroun of Clayton County have been team leaders at the Crop Scouting Competition for the past five years. Joe says he’s witnessed the competition make a big impact on the participating youth. “The competition is a great way to connect education to the industry,” he notes. “Over the last five years, we’ve had several students on our team realize this is something they have a passion for and decide to pursue it in college.”
The experience stirs student’s interest in a career in agronomy
Ben Wikner attended the Crop Scouting Competition in 2012 as a member of the Shirbrouns' team. Wikner is now an ISU ag business and agronomy major and works on the Shirbrouns' farm, helping with operations including the farm’s crop scouting program. “The competition really opened my eyes to the agronomy industry,” says Wikner. “It convinced me to go to college and pursue a career in agriculture.”
This year, the event will consist of 10 to 12 outdoor field stations run by ISU Extension faculty and staff. The stations will focus on different aspects of corn and soybean scouting including crop diseases, insects, disorders, weed identification, crop growth stages and soil sampling. In addition to the field stations, participants will be required to take a written test on crop scouting material.
Equipping future farmers and agronomists with scouting skills
The top four teams, based on points accrued from the field stations and exam, are eligible to win cash prizes, and all participants will receive a free event t-shirt. The top two teams will be invited to the regional competition held near Ames on Aug. 31.
To register, submit a completed registration form with a fee of $50 by July 1. This fee will be refunded when the team attends the competition. For more details, event registration and preparation resources visit www.ipm.iastate.edu/cropscouting. A video recap from last year’s crop scouting competition can be viewed at the site.
The event is sponsored by DuPont Pioneer, Iowa Soybean Association On-Farm Network, Iowa Independent Crop Consultants Association, Iowa Certified Crop Advisors, ScoutPro and USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.