About the Forest Ecology Contest

Getting Started

Who can participate?

Youth will compete in teams of 3 or 4 at the Junior, Intermediate and Senior levels*. Senior participants must not have had a previous opportunity to attend the national contest. This means that in years when there is a national contest, the first place Senior team members cannot compete again. In years when there is no national contest, they may compete again. Each county can register a maximum of two Junior, Intermediate and Senior teams of 4, 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 that 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.

* Age classifications:
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.

How are team scores are determined?

All three scores from a 3-person team are added to form the team score. The three highest scores from a 4-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 April 1; late entries will incur a late fee. There is a $5 registration fee for each youth who is competing in the program to cover insurance and snacks and drinks. Adults must also register, but do not need to pay. Youth who are just observing do not need to pay.

How to Prepare

What does my team need to know?

Your contestants need to be able to answer questions at each station in their contest. Not all age groups complete each station. Learn more about each station on the Contest Stations page. All stations are completed individually, except the Senior Quiz Bowl. For the 2021 Online Contest, contestants will be tested on the following stations.

  Junior Intermediate Senior
Tree Identification




Forest Health




Forest Ecosystems



Wildlife Identification



Maps Symbols




Forest Management    


Quiz Bowl    


How can I help my team practice?

Usually, the UF School of Forest Resources and Conservation faculty, students and staff offer a Forest Ecology Clinic in the fall to help teams prepare for the contest in the spring. This year, however, the clinic was replaced by online study guides and videos. Participants can find helpful videos and study resources below. We will supplement these materials with live question and answer sessions in February and March, 2021. You will be able to submit questions in advance and talk to faculty on zoom. Additional information will be available in the 4-H Weekly Connections.

Several introductory videos are now available to help youth get started. Click on the links below to learn more about tree identification.

Tree Identification Junior Intermediate Senior

Willie Wood has provided his notes to help youth learn to identify trees and plants.

Check out Duval County plant and tree identification tutorials with Larry Figart.

The videos below are available in both FLV and MP4 format and you should choose the one that works best on your browser. You may need a Flash player to view the FLV files. If you do not have a flash player, you can download one.

Using a Compass FLV MP4
Leaf Arranagement FLV MP4
Leaf Composition FLV MP4
Parts of a Leaf FLV MP4
Using a Biltmore Stick   MP4

Click the links below to find forest health dichotomous keys.

Forest Health Junior Intermediate Senior

Click on this link to view informational videos on how to identify insects, diseases, and stresses that commonly influence forest health in Florida. These insects, diseases, and stresses will be included in the forest health section of the contest.

Watch this video to learn more about how to read topographic maps!

Exploring Florida's natural places with your team is a great way to prepare. Here are a few websites to help you identify places to take your team:


The Day of the Contest

In 2021 we are likely to have an online contest to protect the health of youth and adults. Check here for more information.


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, plant ID, ecosystem quiz, insect/disease ID, field quiz, and map/compass.  A $500 scholarship from the University of Florida's School of Forest Resources and Conservation 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 Resources and Conservation.  The scholarship will be renewed for up to 3 additional years if a grade point average of 3.0 is maintained.