4-H Crop Scouting
By Brian McNeill, Extension Educator, 4-H Youth Development
In July, the 4-H Youth Development program offered its first 4-H Crop Scouting event. This event is part of the 4-H Agronomy program and was created to engage youth in higher level of problem solving, team development and career exploration. High School level youth competed as teams to address crop management issues. This event involved University of Minnesota Extension faculty and Agronomists to provide expertise in the agronomy related stations.
Integrated pest management (IPM) is an important, though often underutilized, crop production strategy and a clear understanding of it is key to the success of future agriculture personnel. The IPM approach involves carefully considering the economic and ecological benefits of using available, nonpesticide pest management options.
The 4-H Crop Scouting event was designed to challenge youth in real world problem solving and to promote agriculture. Five rotating stations challenged the youth in topics such as: Identifying Insects, Identifying Weeds, labeling Corn and Soybean growth, Plant Pathology and calibrating sprayer nozzles. At each station a University of Minnesota Extension faculty or Agronomist provided the youth with a challenge, engaged them in conversation and scored them on their problem solving and interaction. After each station, the points were collected and teams were ranked and acknowledged for their achievement. This new event also has an opportunity for the top team to represent Minnesota at a Regional (National) event held in Boone Iowa. Other states involved in this event include: Iowa, Kentucky, Nebraska and Indiana.
The focus on 4-H Agronomy and offering events like the 4-H Crop Scouting event is providing new and enriching opportunities for 4-H members and volunteers. This work is also allowing for collaboration between Extension Centers such as 4-H Youth Development Extension Educators and Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, Crops Extension Educators. It is also opening new doors with faculty from Ridgewater College out of Willmar. New funding sources have been identified and supporting new opportunities and 4-H Agronomy intern positions. We have also created new opportunities for new volunteers to work with 4-H members.
The 4-H Crop Scouting event is one of many new opportunities that will be available for all youth in the state of Minnesota in 2020 due to pilot work in counties and growing into regional efforts. These new experiences will support existing 4-H members but will attract new 1st year members to the 4-H Youth Development program. Providing events where youth can grow and learn about plants, explore enriching experiences and participate in hands on engaging events will provide a quality experience to youth and their families.
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