The Biggest Grower – A Student Gardening Competition


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High school students: Are you looking for something to do this summer?

If you're a high school student entering the ninth through 12th grade this fall, living in Nebraska, and you want to do a fun, hands-on, outdoor activity with a bit of instruction and a bunch of flexibility, Nebraska Extension is providing a summer gardening program for you.

The Biggest Grower competition offers Nebraska high school students the opportunity to learn to start their own garden and small growing operation. Students will plant, grow, cultivate, harvest and distribute their own fresh specialty crops in a garden space or in containers. Participants will be placed in virtual teams with one team chosen as The Biggest Grower and each team member will be awarded a $50 Amazon gift card. Additionally, an individual high school junior or senior will be awarded a College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources Department of Agronomy and Horticulture scholarship of $1,000.

Here's how it works:

  • This competition is FREE to students who register.
  • Nebraska students who are entering the 9th–12th grade in fall 2020 are welcome to participate.
  • Nebraska Extension and a university horticulture student, a personal GARDEN MENTOR, will be working with each student VIRTUALLY on a weekly basis.
  • Participants will be randomly placed into 10 statewide VIRTUAL TEAMS of 10 gardeners. These teams will compete over the summer to find out which team is The Biggest Grower.
  • Each participant will:
  • use an existing garden spot at their home (competition garden space is limited to 80 square feet, maximum) as a BACKYARD Gardener OR choose to grow in pots as a CONTAINER Gardener.
  • be given a toolkit consisting of a hand spade, weeder, seeds and starter plants. Students needing additional tools can request available items from the GARDEN MENTOR to aid in your success.
  • complete the activities assigned by the GARDEN MENTOR at the chosen garden location.
  • participate in each of the ten weekly activities.
  • develop and cultivate specialty crops in their BACKYARD or CONTAINER garden.
  • record productivity data in the GROWERS LEADERBOARD.
  • determine and record the amount of harvest consumed.
  • determine and record the amount distributed.
  • Participate VIRTUALLY in The Biggest Grower Day hosted by the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture June 26 from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln East Campus.

High school junior and senior participants, who want to be eligible for the scholarship award, will be asked to write a 350 to 500-word essay on how The Biggest Grower competition affected them and their community, or the use of specialty crops in their future. Students must also enroll in one of four majors within the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture in CASNR at Nebraska.

  • At the end of the growing season, after all the data is entered, The Biggest Grower will be announced!

The competition will begin May 25 and end Aug. 7. After all the data is entered and the essays are reviewed, The Biggest Grower team and the scholarship winner will be announced Sept. 4.

Questions? Contact Stacy Adams at


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