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Iowa Youth Crop Scouting Competition | OPRO Meets Maya Hayslett​

Maya Hayslett is the Crop Science Youth Education Specialist, Integrated Pest Management team within Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

Science outreach activity: Iowa Youth Crop Scouting Competition.

Type of event: Competition.

Intended audience: Youth in grades 7–12 who form teams with an adult coach.​

Iowa State University Extension Specialist Angie Rieck-Hinz works on staging corn with a youth team at the Iowa Youth Crop Scouting Competition.​​

Description of the activity: At the Youth Crop Scouting Competition, middle-school and high-school youth can show off their crop scouting knowledge to win prizes. Iowa State University staff and industry professionals evaluate teams as they work to identify corn and soybean pests and other problems in the field. The goal of the competition is to provide youth an opportunity to learn crop scouting and principles of integrated pest management for corn and soybean and to obtain knowledge and skills that will be helpful in future careers related to agricultural sciences.

Materials needed for this activity:

  • Field p​lots that the youth can explore to look for pests and other issues.
  • Different stations that youth can visit during the competition. At each station there is a task and/or a series of questions for them to answer.
  • A multiple-choice test on general knowledge about integrated pest management.
  • Faculty, staff, and industry professionals to staff the stations.
  • Study materials that are provided to the teams prior to the competition.
  • Prizes, if desired.

Information regarding this event:

How will you modify or improve future offerings? A main goal of the competition is for youth to interact with professionals and develop professional skills. Based on feedback from staff and volunteers, we have incorporated teamwork skills and professionalism into the scoring system.

How many times has this activity been hosted? The year 2021 will mark the 11th year of the competition.

In total, how many participants have been in attendance? On average, 8–10 teams participate in the competition each year, with a total of approximately 50 youth participants.

How was the impact of this outreach activity evaluated? Youth and adult coaches complete a survey after the competition to assess the quality of the experience and the value of the competition to coaches and participants. We also welcome feedback on ways to improve the competition.

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