The University of Illinois Extension Youth Crop Scouting Competition was held on August 1, 2023 at the U of I Crop Sciences Research and Education Center.  Teams of students in grades 9 through 12, accompanied by an adult advisor, participated in hands-on field scouting activities. The competition included 10 outdoor stations where students tested their skills in identifying weeds, insects, diseases, and other aspects related to crop scouting.  Members of the Illinois Soybean Association Agronomy Team were excited to help with the soybean growth stage station.

The Crop Scouting Competition aims to help students develop essential field scouting knowledge and skills to make informed decisions in agriculture. Judges scored each team and cash prizes were awarded to the top four teams with the first-place team receiving $500. The top two teams advanced to represent Illinois in the Midwest regional competition.

Teams are encouraged to study for the competition and use resources provided, including Integrated Pest Management (IPM) curriculum and the Virtual Crop Scout School webinars. Lunch, beverages, and snacks were provided during the event. The competition is supported by various organizations and sponsors.

Reference:  Youth Crop Scouting Competition | Illinois Extension | UIUC

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About the Author: Stephanie Porter

As Outreach Agronomist for the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA), Stephanie supports research efforts and helps communicate both in-field and edge-of-field research and validation studies to Illinois 43,000 soybean farmers. She also helps lead the demonstration and adoption of conservation agriculture practices and raises awareness of best management and continuous improvement practices for conservation agriculture in Illinois. Stephanie has 23 years of experience that consists of agronomy, conservation, horticulture, plant diagnostics, and education. She has her bachelor’s in crop science and master’s in plant pathology from the University of Illinois. Stephanie is a Certified Crop Advisor and was named the 2018 Illinois Certified Crop Adviser Master Soybean Advisor. She also has experience with corn and soybean pathology research, crop scouting, soil testing, as well as crop consulting. Previously, she utilized her diagnostic training and collaborated with University of Illinois departmental Extension Specialists to diagnose plant health problems and prepare written responses describing the diagnosis and management recommendations as the University of Illinois Plant Clinic.

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