Crop scouting competition provides hands-on, in-the-field learning with ISU Experts

ISU Extension

The Iowa State Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program and Iowa 4-H are pleased to announce the 2023 Iowa Youth Crop Scouting Competition on July 27 at the Field Extension Education Laboratory in Boone at 1928 240th St.

A team discusses the identification of corn nutrient deficiencies with Iowa State University professor Mindy Devries and Ryan Clayton from Corteva Agriscience.

Middle school and high school students (those completing grades 7-12) from Iowa are invited to put their crop scouting skills to the test, competing against other Iowa youth teams across the state. The event’s goal is to bring awareness of IPM in Iowa and provide an opportunity for Iowa youth to learn IPM basics through hands-on learning and teamwork.

At the event, teams rotate between different crop plots at the field station in Boone, where they are evaluated on their knowledge and skills in crop scouting. Stations are run by ISU faculty and staff as well as agriculture industry professionals, giving students the opportunity to work next to and learn from experts. Potential topics include crop diseases, insects, disorders, weed identification, crop growth stages, cover crops, sprayer calibration and pesticide use. There is also a written exam on general crop scouting principles and integrated pest management.

In addition to the competition, youth have a free lunch from Hickory Park and participate in fun activities with youth from around the state. “It is a fun day in the field,” said Maya Hayslett, crop science youth education specialist for Iowa State University and program coordinator for the Iowa Youth Crops Scouting Competition. “Regardless of how well a team scores, we have great judges that make it a fun learning experience for the youth.” 

Based on points accrued from the field stations and exam, the top four teams are eligible to win cash prizes. The top two teams will advance to the regional competition to compete against teams from six states. The regional competition will be held at Purdue University in September.

ISU Extension and Outreach has resources, including field guides, publications and presentations, to help each team prepare for the event. For more information, resources and to register, visit Watch a recap from last year’s event at  

The event is sponsored by the following: Corteva Agriscience, Iowa 4-H Foundation, Bayer, Syngenta, United Soybean Board, Iowa Independent Crop Consultants Association, Iowa Certified Crop Advisors, ISU Integrated Pest Management Program, Iowa Soybean Research Center and Environmental Tillage Systems.

For questions, please contact Maya Hayslett at