Illinois Crop Scouting Competition

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 to 5 high-school-aged youth 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 offered the youth Crop Scouting Competition. The program is modeled after the Iowa State Extension program.

2022 Sponsors: University of Illinois IPM Program. 


August 4, 2022

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

  • The competition is open to high school students completing grades 9-12 in the spring of 2022. They will work in teams of 2 to 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).
  • This will be an outdoor event.
  • Meals: Lunch, beverages, and snacks will be provided. 
  • Prizes: $500 for 1st, $300 for 2nd, and $150 for 3rd. 

Questions? Contact program coordinator Chelsea Harbach at

image of online registration form for the event

Register Online

Register teams for free by Friday, July 1, 2022

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 the below materials to help prepare.

  • IPM Curriculum: Integrated pest managment presentations are available in both PDF and PowerPoint formats and includes notes. Provided by Iowa State University.
  • Virtual Crop Scout School: The Virtual Crop Scout School consists of webinars from crop protection specialists at 11 Midwest universities and is offered through the Crop Protection Network. The series is free, registration is required to access.

Potential topics include, but are not limited to: identification and information about crop diseases, insects, weeds, abiotic disorders, herbicide injury, growth stages, parts of the plant, degree day computation, sprayer calibration, and sprayer issues. There will also be a test on crop scouting.

Competition Coordinator