LEXINGTON, Ky. — For the first time, a Kentucky team has won the Regional High School Crop Scouting Competition. A LaRue County team tied with a team from Iowa for first place in the competitive event.
Members of the LaRue County FFA team are Donna Thompson, Jose Villanos, Chris Robbins, Jacob Hinton and Grayson Miller. They were advised by Misty Bivens, LaRue County FFA advisor and high school agriculture teacher, and coached by Daniel Carpenter, LaRue County agriculture and natural resources extension agent.
“This contest has really sparked interest in agronomy and crop sciences with my students,” Bivens said. “The relationship that our agriculture program has with our agriculture extension agent, Daniel Carpenter, has been the key to opening up this opportunity for these students.”
Carpenter has worked with the county’s high school crop scouting teams since the University of Kentucky began hosting a statewide event three years ago. During this time, they have won the Kentucky tournament twice and been runners-up once.
“We met weekly through Zoom and in-person, as COVID-19 rules would allow, to review UK publications on insects, weeds, crop diseases, soil fertility, etc.,” he said. “The team spent a lot of time studying on their own as well, and it showed as their knowledge on different agronomic topics seemed to grow more and more each time we met.”
Kiersten Wise, UK extension plant pathologist, organizes the statewide contest each year at the UK Grain and Forage Center of Excellence in Princeton. The regional competition is the culminating event for the program.
“We are thrilled that the LaRue County team tied for first place at the regional competition,” said Wise, a professor in the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. “I’m glad that students who compete in the crop scouting competition can test their skills against students from other states, and in some cases, different agriculture systems. It is a unique opportunity, and I’m so proud of the excellent student teams that have represented Kentucky at this event.”
In the Kentucky event, students competed in hands-on, interactive field scouting exercises in corn, soybeans and tobacco. They displayed their knowledge and decision-making skills in basic agronomics, pest identification and big-picture crop production questions. The top two teams earned the opportunity to compete at regionals. A team from Trigg County placed second and also advanced to the regional competition.
At the virtual regional event, the Kentucky teams competed against teams from Iowa, Nebraska, Indiana, Illinois and Minnesota. Students competed in a quiz game that tested their knowledge of crop scouting and integrated pest management. Then, team members answered questions from judges about pest identification, pest management, crop disorders, crop stages and responsible pesticide use.
— Katie Pratt, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment