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, says Brandy VanDeWalle, UNL Extension educator in Fillmore County.
"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," she says.
With that in mind, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension and the Nebraska Corn Board have teamed up to offer the second Innovative Youth Corn Challenge contest. The contest, open to 4-H members age 10 and older as of Jan. 1 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 teams entering the challenge will implement an innovative production practice to determine if they increased their corn yield. Economics and sustainability of the practice will also be considered. Yields, cropping history and production information will be collected in the Corn Yield Challenge management summary.
Goals of the contest are: 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.
As a team, youth will work with an adult mentor throughout the process. Mentors can be 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 $500, and third place $250.
An award for data completion and innovation also be given.
Faced with a persistent drought, an addition this year will be a "limited resource" award, which will be based on participants achieving a higher yield with limited inputs. This could be limited water, fertilizer, or other inputs.
To participate, youth must complete and return an entry form by March 1t 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, Aaron Nygren at email@example.com or Amy Timmerman at firstname.lastname@example.org.