The Illinois Crop Scouting Competition is a one-day contest that gives teams of students from across the state the chance to test their knowledge live and in the field.

Students in the 2021 Crop Scouting Competition identify a weed. Photo by Erika Parker.

Crop scouting is an important skill for anyone dealing with commercial crops that can lead to higher yields and increased profit per acre. Scouting gives farmers a heads-up about what is happening in the field - from crop growth stages to the presence of insects or weeds - allowing them to strategically apply the best management decisions. 

Student teams of 2-5 high-school-aged youth (grades 9-12) with an adult coach rotate through 10 outdoor stations at the University of Illinois South Farm fields to test their skills hands-on with topics such as identifying weeds, insects, and diseases, identifying the growth stages of corn and soybean plants, assessing abiotic injury, pesticide application, and integrated pest management.

Teams are scored by judges - University faculty, graduate students, specialists, and Extension educators - with cash prizes for the top scores. The top two teams will also advance to compete against students in other states and represent Illinois at the Regional Competition.

Ready to see what’s in the field? 

  • Work together in a fun, hands-on environment
  • Engage with university agricultural experts
  • Win prizes and leave with bragging rights! 

2021 was the first year Illinois participated in the youth Crop Scouting Competition. The program is modeled after the Iowa State Extension program.

2021 Sponsors: ProHarvest Seeds, Growmark, Inc., Illinois Corn Growers Association, East Central DeKalb/Asgrow Team, Illinois Farm Bureau, University of Illinois IPM Program, and TeeJet. 


August 4, 2021 | 8 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Crop Sciences Research & Education Center, 4202 South 1st St., Savoy, IL 61874

  • The competition is open to students in grades 9-12. They will work in teams of 2-5 students led by an adult coach. Coaches can be FFA advisers, agriculture teachers, seed dealers, co-op employees, and others. No more than three teams per sponsoring organization (e.g. company, school, club).
  • Check-in and registration start at 8 a.m. The competition starts at 8:30 a.m., and will end by 1:30 p.m.
  • This will be an outdoor event. Lunch, beverages, and snacks will be provided. Each participant will receive a T-shirt.

All individuals are required to wear a face-covering and practice social distancing at this event. This applies to staff, volunteers, participants, and speakers and covers all shared spaces, including offices, conference rooms, meeting spaces, hallways, and other non-private spaces. Your compliance with this policy allows us to remain focused on our work together. Thank you for your cooperation and shared commitment to the growth, development, and safety of our communities.

Questions? Contact program coordinator Chelsea Harbach at

Register Online

Register teams for free by Thursday, July 15, 2021

Parent/Guardian permissions and other forms will be sent after registration is received. 

If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate, please contact the event coordinator. Early requests are strongly encouraged to allow sufficient time to meet your needs.



Once registered, teams should work with their coach to study regularly leading up to the competition. Review both the integrated pest management training through Iowa State University and the 2021 Virtual Crop Scout School to help prepare for the competition.

  • IPM Curriculum: Each presentation is available in both PDF and PowerPoint formats and includes notes. 
  • Virtual Crop Scout School: The 2021 Virtual Crop Scout School consists of 22 webinars from crop protection specialists at 11 Midwest universities and is offered through the Crop Protection Network. 
Competition Coordinator