The Biggest Grower – A Student Gardening Competition


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High school students: Love plants? We’ve got a great summer activity for you!

The Biggest Grower Competition lets you be out in the sun, get dirty and grow the best fruits and flowers you can, competing against other Nebraska high school students statewide! THE BIGGEST GROWER will win $100*, two runners-up will win $50* each and six honorable mentions will each be awarded $25.*

Don’t have a green thumb?

You’ll soon have one with this fun, hands-on learning opportunity and guidance from The Biggest Grower Garden Mentor William Anderson. William graduated from Gothenburg High School in 2021 and he’s working toward a horticulture degree at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

“My passion for horticulture was sparked by my ag teacher who believed in me and encouraged me to pursue my gardening hobby. I want to pay it forward by mentoring and encouraging students across the state.” —William Anderson, The Biggest Grower Garden Mentor

As a “Biggest Grower” competitor, you’ll receive a copy of the “New Gardeners Handbook,” a gardening multi-tool, seeds and weekly instruction. You’ll meet with your garden mentor throughout the competition to learn what to do next, try innovative approaches and ask questions about your own garden.

No place to garden?

No worries, you can compete with your own container garden! We can supply you with GrowBags that can be filled with locally sourced garden soil.

Too much work?

Nope! We limit the size of each garden to 80 square feet. That’s the challenge — how much can YOU grow in this compact garden?

Absolutely no cost to you!

Nebraska Extension is excited to offer this program through the generous funding of the Nebraska Specialty Crop Block Grant Program and Beyond School Bells.

“BSB cannot think of a better way to get Nebraska’s students involved in growing their own food and have fun doing it!” —Dakota Staggs, Beyond School Bells Program Coordinator

Participants just need to try their hand at gardening, meet occasionally throughout the summer with their garden mentor and tell us how many fruits, vegetables and flowers they grew in their Biggest Grower garden!” —Stacy Adams, The Biggest Grower Program Director

Here’s how it works:
  • You need to be entering 9th–12th grade for Fall 2022.
  • Sign-up by May 6 by following this link ››
  • Pick a plot in your existing garden OR let us know you want to do containers and we’ll send them to you.
  • We’ll send you seeds, a garden multi-tool, the “New Gardeners Handbook” by Daryl Beyers, stickers and some instructions on how to get started.
  • Get your garden started before June 1.
  • Meet on Zoom with your assigned group and the Garden Mentor for 20 minutes weekly for the first four weeks.
  • Come to The Biggest Grower Campus Day June 17 at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (CASNR) where you’ll meet with your Garden Mentor and horticulture faculty and try your hand at plant propagation, landscape design and using scientific tools of the trade! You’ll get to see the Backyard Farmer Garden, hydroponics and the greenhouses.
  • We’ll send you the official 2022 The Biggest Grower competition chillin’-tomato t-shirt.
  • Continue to take care of your garden throughout the summer, keep track of how much you harvested and send us your collected information by Aug. 12.
  • The Biggest Grower and runners-up will be announced Aug. 19.
  • There is no cost to participate. We only ask that you try your hand at gardening, complete two short surveys and submit your harvest data before the end of the program. Please notify us, as soon as possible, if you choose to withdraw at any time during the competition.
Don’t Delay:

There is a limit of 50 student competitors for this year’s competition, so sign-up soon! Questions? Contact Stacy Adams, Biggest Grower Program Director, at

*Awards are given in the form of Amazon Gift Cards.