About the Contest
Details on the contest, how to prepare, contest stations, and day of the contest can be found below.
4-H Forest Ecology Clinic
The 4-H Forest Ecology Clinic is held in the fall each year at Austin Cary Forest, Gainesville, FL. This year, it will be held on Saturday, October 14, 2023. Check-in starts at 8:30 a.m. and the clinic runs from 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. Youth will have an opportunity to learn from experts and practice and apply knowledge and skills in tree and wildlife identification; using a map and compass; identifying insects, diseases, and stresses that impact forest health; and more!
Please register for the 2023 clinic on the 4-H Online website.
4-H Forest Ecology Contest
The 2024 4-H Forest Ecology Contest will be held Saturday, March 30, 2024 at Austin Cary Forest in Gainesville, FL.
Register: Registration will be facilitated through 4-H Online.
4-H’ers registered through FAMU are invited to join the contest as a county team, just like UF 4-H’ers.
Contestants will answer questions at each station in their contest. Not all age groups complete each station. Learn more about each station by viewing the individual contest station pages. Additional study resources are also provided below.
All stations are completed individually, except the Senior Quiz Bowl.
Getting Started: Contest Participation
Who can participate?
Youth will compete in teams of three or four members at the Junior, Intermediate, and Senior levels (see age classifications below).
Senior participants must not have had a previous opportunity to attend the national contest in-person. This means that in years when there is an in-person national contest, the first place Senior team members cannot compete again. In years when there is no national contest or there is an online national contest, they may compete again.
Each county can register a maximum of two Junior, Intermediate, and Senior teams of four members, plus two individuals at each age level, for a total of 30 participants of UF registered 4-H members and FAMU registered 4-H members. This means counties that have both UF and FAMU 4-H programs may send up to 60 youth.
Individual youth may compete if there are not enough participants to form a team. The highest scoring individual Senior may compete again as a team member, but cannot score in the individual competition in subsequent years.
- Juniors are youth ages 8-10 as of September 1 of the current 4-H program year.
- Intermediates are youth ages 11-13 as of September 1 of the current 4-H program year.
- Seniors are youth ages 14-18 as of September 1 of the current 4-H program year.
When individual or team scores are tied, winners will be selected by weighting sections of the contest in this order: tree ID, ecosystem quiz, insect/disease ID, field quiz, and map/compass.
How are team scores are determined?
All three scores from a three-person team are added to form the team score. The three highest scores from a four-person team are added to create their team score.
How do I register?
Teams interested in participating must complete the team registration information found on the Florida 4-H website. Advance registration is mandatory for everyone, and registrations are due by March 15. Late entries will incur a late fee. The clinic registration fee is $5 and there is a $10 registration fee for each youth who is competing in the contest, to cover insurance and snacks. Youth who are just observing do not need to pay.
How to Prepare
How can I help my team practice?
In the fall, faculty, students, and staff of the School of Forest, Fisheries, and Geomatics Sciences offer a Forest Ecology Clinic to help teams prepare for the springtime contest.
View/download the contest scoresheets:
In addition, below is a compilation of videos and other resources to help youth prepare and practice.
Review information on each tree species on the Trees of Florida Contest Station Page.
In addition, several introductory videos are available to help youth get started with tree identification.
- Tree Identification for Juniors
- Tree Identification for Intermediates
- Tree Identification for Seniors
Duval County 4-H also created a series of video tutorials on Trees of Florida and Plants of Florida.
(NOTE: Plants are not included in this year's contest.)
Finally, the videos below provide information and tips on leaf arrangement, composition, and parts of a leaf.
Review information on insects, diseases, and stresses on the Forest Health Contest Station page.
In addition, use these links to find forest health dichotomous keys.
View informational videos on how to identify insects, diseases, and stresses that commonly influence forest health in Florida.
Review information and download resources related to the two forest ecosystems for the contest year on the Forest Ecosystems Contest Station page.
Review information on the wildlife species Juniors and Intermediates should know on the Wildlife on the Forest Hike Contest Station page.
Review the wildlife study guide.
Learn about frog sounds by making a frog sounds kit.
Map & Compass
Review information on using a topographic map and compass on the Map & Compass Contest Station Page.
Learn how to read topograhic maps from this video.
Learn how to use a compass from this video.
Review information on what Senior contestants will do at the Tree Measurement Contest Station.
Senior Forest Management Quiz & Quiz Bowl
The reference material for both the Senior Forest Management Quiz & Quiz Bowl is available on the Senior Quiz Bowl page.
Day of the Contest
Schedule & Guidelines
The contest begins at 9 a.m. and concludes around 3 p.m. The contest takes place at the Stern Learning Center, Austin Cary Forest, 10625 NE Waldo Rd., Gainesville, FL 32609. Click here for directions. Youth will be divided into groups and rotate among contest stations. Following the completion fo the stations, there will be a break for scoring and judging, and the contest concludes with an awards ceremony around 2:30 p.m.
Youth should wear closed-toe shoes and dress appropriately for the weather, prepared to spend time outdoors, in the sun. Please bring sunscreen, sunglasses, insect repellent, a clipboard/something to write on, lunch, and a reusable water bottle. Snacks will be provided for youth.
If youth would like to use magnifying glasses to examine tree specimens, insect/disease specimens, etc., this is permitted. For the map & compass station, compasses will be provided, but youth are permitted to bring/use their own compasses. For the tree measurement station, some Biltmore sticks are provided, but youth can also bring their own. Parents are welcome to bring small canopy tents and chairs to set up outside during the contest. Finally, we ask that youth do NOT wear baseball caps.
All contestants will receive a certificate that verifies their participation. The top three team and individual winners in each age group will receive a ribbon. In addition, the highest scoring Senior team will be eligible to compete in the National 4-H Forestry Invitational.
The highest-scoring team among first-year county contestants will also take home a ribbon. When individual or team scores are tied, winners will be selected by weighting sections of the contest in this order: tree ID, ecosystem quiz, insect/disease ID, field quiz, and map/compass.
A $500 scholarship from the University of Florida's School of Forest, Fisheries, and Geomatics Sciences will be offered to the Senior High Scoring Individual of the 4-H Forest Ecology Contest, if he or she chooses to enroll at the University of Florida and declares a major in the School of Forest, Fisheries, and Geomatics Sciences. The scholarship will be renewed for up to three additional years, if a grade point average of 3.0 is maintained.