Crops, Programming, Youth

Youth Crop Scouting Competition

One of the statewide programs I coordinate is the Youth Crop Scouting Competition which engages youth in the crop sciences. It provides youth with real-world scenarios in crop production as they diagnose plant diseases, crop disorders, identify insects and weeds and other challenges producers currently face.IMG_6054.jpg

Registration is now open for the 2017 Youth Crop Scouting Competition to be held this August in eastern Nebraska. The contest is open to FFA and 4-H club members and will help those interested in crops test their skills and those new to crops better understand crop production.

To prepare for the contest youth are encouraged to learn about crop growth and development and basic crop scouting principles. If a group doesn’t know a lot about crops, they’re encouraged to ask a local agronomist to assist by providing a short lesson on crop production at regular meetings or outside of the meeting.

The crop scouting contest will be held at the Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center (ENREC, formerly ARDC) near Mead on Aug. 1. The event will include both indoor and outdoor events. Teams of three to five junior high or high school students (those completing 7-12th grades) from across Nebraska are invited to participate.

FFA Chapters or 4-H Clubs may enter a team composed of three or four participants. An adult team leader must accompany each team of students. Team leaders could be FFA advisors, crop consultants, extension staff, coop employees, etc.IMG_6093.jpg

Top-scoring teams win prizes: $500 for first, $250 for second, $100 for third place. The top two teams will be eligible for regional competition in August at Indiana.

Teams will be expected to know the basics of scouting corn and soybean fields. This includes crop staging; looking for patterns of crop injury; disease, insect and weed seedling identification; etc. Other topics may include but are not limited to pesticide safety, nutrient disorders, and herbicide injury.

More information about the crop scouting competition and instructions on how to register a team are available online in the Youth section of CropWatch under “Crop Scouting Competition” and in the contest flyer. The program is limited to 10 teams so be sure to register soon! Teams must be registered by July 20.

This program is sponsored by DuPont Pioneer, the Nebraska Independent Crop Consultant Association, and Nebraska Extension.


Crops, Uncategorized, Youth

Crop Scouting Contest- Engaging Youth in Agronomy

Developing youth as leaders in the agricultural industry is crucial to the success of agriculture and feeding our growing population. I like the quote, “Thank a farmer three times a day. ” It really gets the point across how important agriculture, most importantly famers areIMG_4445 in our society. Whether you prefer conventional, organic, or other labeled products, all of them are produced by a farmer or rancher and provide you with a delicious, safe and nutritious product. Growing up on a farm and being a farmer’s daughter, I appreciate the hard work, dedication and risk involved in production agriculture. While I am not a farmer I work with farmers and have a great appreciation for them. My husband is an agricultural education instructor and FFA adviser and was also a raised on a farm.

As an extension educator for the University Of Nebraska – Lincoln Extension, I have focused my area on educating youth and youth professionals on related agronomic topics. The overall goal is to encourage youth to pursue a degree in agronomy or related fields, since there is a tremendous career opportunity waiting for them. Whether they return back to the farm or work with farmers in production agriculture, the need for bright, talented and hard working people in agricultural careers is more important now then ever.

Sally Mackenzie, Ralph & Alice Raikes Chair for Plant Science in the Center for Plant Science Innovation provided insight on this challenge at a UNL Heuermann Lecture last year, where she said, “The continued debate over genetically modified crops is a “sociological and psychological discussion,” not a scientific one and it’s a distraction from the reality: The world’s population, now about 7 billion, is expected to top 9 billion by 2050. There’s not enough water or arable land to feed those people using current agronomic practices.” Mackenzie told UNL students “these challenges are your challenges.”

Recently I coordinated the first Nebraska Youth Crop Scouting Competition at the Ag Research & Development Center near Mead, NE. Six FFA and 4-H teams competed by taking a written test and completing eight crop-scouting exercises. The goal of this contest was to engage youth in agronomic principles, gain an interest in crop-related careers and ultimately pursue a career related to crop production. The 25-question exam tested their knowledge on basic integrated pest management strategies. Eight field exercises focused on general scouting procedures including topics in entomology, pathology, taking stand counts, weed resistaIMG_4473nce management, crop growth & development and soil residue management.

This contest was sponsored by DuPont Pioneer and provided cash prizes to the top performing teams. Plans are to continue this program for future years. More details about the program can be found on the CropWatch- Youth webpages.

Another program for youth interested in crops is the Innovative Youth Corn Challenge that is in its third year. In this program, youth work with a project advisor to test a novel management practice or product with the goal of increasing yield in an economic manner. Entry forms for this contest are due March 15th of each year.