Innovative Youth Corn Challenge

Innovative Youth Corn Challenge

Today's agricultural world faces several challenges, one of them being the decline of our most valuable resource, the future workforce. Keeping youth in rural communities and involved in production agriculture is important to the agricultural industry. With the global population expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, there is and will be the need for more young people to engage in agricultural careers to feed the world.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension and the Nebraska Corn Board have teamed up to offer the 3rd Innovative Youth Corn Challenge contest. This contest, open to 4-H members (age 10 years and older as of Jan. 1, 2014) or FFA members (in-school members), will guide youth through all aspects of corn production, as well as agricultural careers related to corn production.

As a team, youth will be challenged to implement a production practice different than normal to determine if it increases yield. Economics and sustainability of the practice also will be considered. Yields, cropping history, and production information will be collected in the Corn Yield Challenge management summary.

Goals of the contest are to:

  • achieve new, innovative, and economically feasible crop production methods to improve yields;
  • provide research data for producers to implement in their operations;
  • distribute data to corn producers, researchers, and agri-businesses for decision making purposes; and
  • introduce youth to a variety of agronomic professionals, including corn producers.

The teams will work with an adult mentor throughout the process. Mentors can be UNL extension faculty, ag teachers, or other qualified agronomy professionals. Cash prizes and plaques will be given to the first, second, and third place teams. First place will receive $1,000, second place will receive $500, and third place will receive $250.  A data completion and innovation award also will be given. Faced with a persistent drought, there will also be a "limited resource" award, which will be based on participants achieving a higher yield with limited inputs.

To participate, youth must complete and return an entry form by March 15 to the
Fillmore County Extension Office in Geneva. Forms can be downloaded at
cropwatch.unl.edu/youth/activities. For more information, contact Brandy VanDeWalle at brandy.vandewalle@unl.edu, Aaron Nygren at anygren2@unl.edu or Amy Timmerman at atimmerman2@unl.edu.

Brandy VanDeWalle
Extension Educator, Fillmore County

March 7, 2014