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Florida 4-H Forest Ecology

Florida 4-H Forest Ecology

About the Contest

Details on the contest, how to prepare, contest stations, and day of the contest can be found below. 

Please register for the contest through the state system. For more information, please contact Elise Cassie at

  • Contest Details

    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, September 28, 2024. 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!

    Register: Registration will be facilitated through the 4-H Online website. 

    Registration fee: $5

    Registration deadline: Friday, September 13, 2024

    4-H Forest Ecology Contest

    The 2025 4-H Forest Ecology Contest will be held Saturday, March 29, 2025 at Austin Cary Forest in Gainesville, FL. 4-H’ers registered through FAMU are invited to join the contest as a county team, just like UF 4-H’ers.

    Register: Registration will be facilitated through 4-H Online.

    Registration fee: $10

    Registration deadline: Friday, March 14, 2025

    Contest Stations

    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. 

    Station Name




    Tree Identification



    Forest Health




    Forest Ecosystems




    Wildlife Identification




    Map & Compass




    Tree Measurement




    Forest Management




    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.

    instructor giving presentation to a group of seated students

    Age Classifications

    1. Juniors are youth ages 8-10 as of September 1 of the current 4-H program year.
    2. Intermediates are youth ages 11-13 as of September 1 of the current 4-H program year.
    3. 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.

    Tree Identification

    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. 

    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.

    Forest Health

    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. 

    Read about Common Bark Beetle Pests of Florida.

    Forest Ecosystems

    Review information and download resources related to the two forest ecosystems for the contest year on the Forest Ecosystems Contest Station page

    Wildlife Identification

    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 topographic maps from this video.

    Learn how to use a compass from this video.  

    Tree Measurement

    Review information on what Senior contestants will do at the Tree Measurement Contest Station.

    Watch a video explaining how to use a Biltmore stick.

    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

    View the Florida 4-H Forest Ecology Quiz Bowl Information PowerPoint. 

  • Day of the Contest

    Contest Details

    Schedule & Guidelines

    The contest begins at 9 a.m. and concludes around 2 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 of the stations, there will be a break for scoring and judging, and the contest concludes with an awards ceremony.

    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, Biltmore sticks are provided, but youth can also bring their own. Calculators are also permitted for the tree measurement station. 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, forest health, wildlife hike, 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.

    student receiving an award

Past Winners

2024 | 2023 | 2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 20192018 | 2015 | 2013 | 2012

Photos from Past Events

2024 | 2023 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012

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