By Sayde Uerkwitz
On August 19 five FFA Crops Teams participated in the Purdue
Crops Scouting Competition. Teams had practiced for several months over the
summer to compete in this first year event.
The contest was organized
by Corey Gerber, Purdue Diagnostic Training Center (DTC) director, and Kiersten Wise, an Extension
Specialist in the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology. Gerber said the
goal of the Purdue Crop Scouting Competition is to promote agriculture amongst
“We hope that
this contest will be another tool to encourage youth to consider agriculture as
a future career. Additionally, by introducing Indiana youth to integrated pest
management concepts at an early age, we increase the chances that they will be
more informed agricultural producers and agribusiness personnel. This knowledge
will improve their quality of life by increasing their agriculture-related
revenue and reduce the unintended environmental impacts of agriculture.”
Five teams competed at this year’s event. Those teams were
Connersville FFA, South Newton FFA, Eastern Hancock FFA, South Central FFA and
Team members were tasked to work as a team to collectively
answer questions at seven different stations (weed, plant disease, insect
identification, soil/plant fertility, corn and soybean growth and development,
and scouting), all related to crop scouting. The stations focused on the teams
using hands-on approaches to answer questions about practical and accurate
diagnosis of common crop problems. Station activities were led by members of
the Purdue DTC, including Jim Camberato, Shaun Casteel, Travis
Legleiter, Bob Nielsen, Gerber, Wise, and their graduate students
Allen, South Newton FFA team coach, said their team participates in several
crop and soil competitions throughout the year.
“Our chapter is involved in the FFA crop and soil career
development competitions and I teach a plant and soil science course. This
contest appeared to be a contest that would incorporate that knowledge into a
practical competition. We also receive a lot of support for our agriculture and
FFA program from local agronomy services and we hope these kids might find
future employment there.”
Allen also said, as a teacher, he felt being able to move
through the sessions with the students was just as educational for him as it
was for them.
“It is always a good thing to see your students in action
and given the experience to travel from station to station with them gave me
the opportunity to see just how they had learned and understood the material
and then applied it to the situation presented to them. I honestly feel that
this particular invitational gave the students a "real-world"
experience that no other event or classroom could have done.”
Wise said both student teams and coaches enjoyed the
hands-on approach to the contest, and appreciated the interaction with Purdue
“The contest focused not only on accurate diagnosis and
application, but also taught students about the practical application of their
knowledge. The teams and coaches indicated that the practical application was
really beneficial to helping the students understand the “real-world”
The South Newton FFA team collectively said the competition
was a great learning experience and a lot of fun.
“We met with different agronomists who taught us just about everything
they knew. We enjoyed scouting the bean field because there were multiple
problems and it was our job to find them, rather than the problem just be shown
The team added that they studied multiple test plots to
prepare for any information that could be part of the competition.
After the scouting portion of the competition was complete,
all team members took individual exams. The points from each part of the
competition were totaled for an overall team score.
The top three teams were recognized with a certificate. In
first place was South Newton FFA; in second place was Eastern Hancock FFA and
in third place was South Central FFA.
The competition could not have been possible without the
support of the sponsors.
The Indiana Corn Marketing Council / Indiana Soybean Alliance
and Dow AgroSciences provided generous support for the crop scouting event. This
support allowed students from across Indiana to engage in a real-world crop
scouting learning experience.
Gerber added that all five teams have signed up to
participate in the competition next year, which will be held in the middle of
For more information about the contest, contact Gerber at firstname.lastname@example.org