4-H Food Plot Project

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The 4-H Food Plot Project is a self-study independent activity in which youth learn to prepare, establish, maintain, and observe a food plot using provided seed for the purpose of providing food and cover for wildlife. Participants apply concepts from wildlife and plant science, art, technology, math, communications, and more. Participants work with their local county Extension agents for assistance with project activities, such as finding a site if they don't have one, collecting and interpreting soil tests, ideas and opportunties for communicating project outcomes, etc. Those who compete for recognition submit their project book and a video, and arrange for a site visit with a local county Extension agent. District and Top Juniors and Seniors are recognized at District O-Ramas. Eagle Seed is the sponsor for this project.

Video Resources

4-H Food plot movie trailer

4-H'er testimony

4-H Food plot orientation meeting (august 30, 2022)


Who: Junior and Senior 4-H members ages 9 to 19 years

What: Preparing, establishing, maintaining and observing a food plot using provided seed for the purpose of food and cover establishment for wildlife.

When: Deadline to register is July 1.  Youth are encouraged to start project activities (e.g., identify site, collect soil samples, apply soil amendments) months prior to registration deadline. Deadline for submitting food plot project books and videos to county offices is March 1. County offices may designate an earlier deadline to allow time for review and obtaining county signatures.  Counties submit project book and video to the state office no later than March 5.

Where: This is a statewide program. Youth who are 4-H members in good standing can prepare a food plot within the state of Arkansas.

Why: Apply science (plants, soils, wildlife management, ecology), technology (video production, trail cameras), engineering (constructing an exclosure cage), art (photography, sketch maps, illustrations), and mathematics (calculate area, soil amendment rates) in a hands-on learning activity.

How: Register through 4-H enrollment by July 1. Contact your local County Extension Agent for more information. 

General Information

  • The 4-H member registers for the Wildlife Food Plot Project by July 1.  A $20 registration fee is charged to cover program expenses.
  • 4-H members are responsible for picking up seed packets from county offices in August. Soil test boxes and other resource materials are available from county offices upon request.
  • 4-H members are responsible for equipment, materials and supplies associated with the project with the exception of provided seeds.  At least one exclusion cage should be placed inside the plot to observe plant growth. 
  • The project plot will be approximately 1/8 acre in size.  Thus, the plot should cover around 5,445 sq. ft. Plots less than 4,628 sq. ft. or more than 6,262 sq. ft. are not eligible for competition.
  • 4-H members wishing to compete in district and state project contests will complete a food plot project book and a brief video (3 minutes maximum) used for judging projects.  Youth should schedule at least one site visit at the food plot from their County Extension Agent. The project book and video are due to the county office on or before March 1. County offices may require an earlier deadline in order to meet review and signature requirements. 


  • Youth must be enrolled as a 4-H member and register for the 4-H Wildlife Food Plot Project by July 1.  (Youth are encouraged to work on their plot before registering, even year-round, and keep records of their activities for reporting in their food plot project book.)
  • Youth will prepare, establish, maintain, and observe a food plot that meets specified requirements. 
  • Youth who wish to compete will prepare and submit a project book and video to their local County Extension Office by March 1 or earlier as designated by their county office. 
  • The food plot contest is an individual event. Each participant completes a project book.
  • Participants will be notified when seeds are being distributed to county offices typically in August, and are responsible for contacting the county office to schedule a time to pick up seeds.
  • 4-H youth are to conduct all food plot activities except those in which safety is of concern. An example is an inexperienced youth driving a tractor for plot preparation. Adult assistance is expected and should be noted in the project book.
  • Youth are expected to meet with and seek advice from their County Extension Agriculture and 4-H Agents as primary sources for food plot recommendations. These contacts should be reported in the project book to assure judges that agents were involved in the project.
  • Youth must plant only the seed they are provided for this project. No additional seed may be added to the plot.
  • For optimum plant growth, the recommended planting date is early August to September 15. Plots should be planted no later than October 20, as it is unlikely a viable plot can be grown after that date.   
  • All plots should be protected from livestock.
  • Youth are allowed to hunt over project plots.
  • If seed fails to produce a crop for uncontrollable reasons, such as the weather, the 4-Her will remain eligible to compete for recognition and awards. It is entirely possible for a 4-Her to receive Top State Junior or Top State Senior recognition even if seeds fail to germinate. The objective of this project is educational!
    • Many “native” or “natural” food plots are a valuable source of food and cover for wildlife, even if seeds fail to germinate. Soil amendments which nourish native plants can also attract wildlife.
    • In the event of total plot failure, no additional seed should be planted to remain competitive. A participant may desire to plant other seed, but such actions confound judging efforts and will result in disqualification. Following protocols such as fertilizing and liming plots often results in native plant growth which attracts wildlife. 
    • Communication efforts for "failed plots" can focus on proper food plot establishment practices, interpreting and applying soil tests, soil disturbance as a wildlife habitat practice, or "lessons learned." Youth can relay the importance of soil amendments and native forages for wildlife.
  • Youth should schedule at least one site visit from a county agricultural agent, including one visit to complete the County Agent Assessment Score Sheet. Typically, the county agent completing the score sheet is located in the county where the food plot is located. 
    • The food plot must be located within the state of Arkansas to qualify. 
    • If the food plot is located outside the youth's home county, then the home county office (or participant) can contact the county office where the plot is located and make arrangements for an agricultural agent to conduct the site visit. 
    • In some circumstances, the county office may designate a qualified alternate to conduct the site visit on the county's behalf.  A note should be made on the County Agent Assessment Score Sheet if this should occur.
    • Participating youth must be present during a site visit and are expected to bring a copy of the County Agent Assessment Score Sheet.
    • At the conclusion of the site visit, the county agent will provide either the youth or the home county office a completed County Agent Assessment Score Sheet with signature.  This score sheet is included in the project book.
    • Youth are expected to document this site visit with a photo of the youth with the county agent in their project book, and/or a segment in their video.

Recognition & Awards

  • The 4-H food plot project book and video will be used for judging. These are due to the county office by March 1 (or an earlier date as designated by the county office).  A state judging team which can include county agents, wildlife biologists, and/or other natural resource professionals, will evaluate entries. 
  • Juniors and Seniors with quality projects will be awarded first, second, and third place in each District. One Top State Junior and one Top State Senior will be recognized. Youth who complete all project requirements and do not receive an award can receive a certificate of project completion upon request. 
  • In case of a tie, the District or State winner may be determined by tie-breaking bonus questions from the County Agent Assessment Score Sheet. If a tie remains, judges have the option to call for participant interviews likely by video conferencing (e.g., Zoom).  
  • The Top State Junior and Top State Senior winner from the previous year are not eligible to win awards or recognition in the same division (Junior or Senior) for the current project year, but they are encouraged to participate and plant plots. After not competing for one year, they are eligible to compete again in the same division.
  • Winners will be recognized at the 4-H District O-Rama awards ceremony. Check the 4-H Calendar for dates and locations.




June 1

Registration opens

July 1

Last day to register

January - July

Select site and collect soil sample

(you can start before registering!)


Pick up seed from local County Extension Office

 August 1 -

September 15

Recommended planting date

October 20

Latest planting date

November – January

Schedule and conduct a site visit with a local County Agent who completes the County Agent Assessment Score Sheet

Conduct video recording


Submit project book and video to county office

March 1

Last day to submit project book and video to county office; some counties may have earlier deadlines.

March 5

County office deadline for submission to state coordinator

March - May

Judging project books and videos 


Winners announced to county agents with participants


Recognize District and State winners

at 4-H District O-Rama's

Plot Requirements & Recommendations

  • The plot must be approximately 1/8 acre in size. Thus, the plot should cover around 5,445 sq ft. (Plots less than 4,628 sq. ft. or more than 6,262 sq. ft. are not eligible for competition.)
  • Seed packet cannot be split between multiple plots.
  • No additional seed is allowed in the plot.
  • Better plots are situated close to natural cover such as woods, fence rows, or brush piles with consideration to adequate sunlight.
  • Preferably plots are located away from houses or human activity.  However, if there is no alternative, this is permissible.
  • At least one exclusion cage should be placed inside the plot to observe plant growth and the effect of grazing pressure or disturbance from deer and other wildlife. Participants can construct their own cage, or a limited number are available on loan from the county office upon request to the state coordinator.
  • Using a trail (game) camera is optional to observe wildlife usage of the food plot.
  • Using corn feeders or other artificial attractants is not recommended in the vicinity of the food plot. Feeding wildlife is illegal in the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Zone during certain months of the year. Check rules and regulations at the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission's website (www.agfc.com) for details.

Project Documents

A project book and video are used to judge entries in the 4-H Food Plot Project. 

Project Book

The project book is completed in steps while working on your food plot. It serves as an interactive guide for learning. The project book can be either hand written (neatness counts!) or typed. 

The County Agent Assessment Score Sheet is to be completed by a county agent (or someone on their behalf as designated by the county office). Project youth must be present when the county agent visits the food plot site. After completing the site visit, include this score sheet in your project book.  


A short video (of 3 minutes or less) is judged based on participant's description of their project work and presentation skills. A participant who speaks without being prompted is viewed more favorably than an interview format.

Minimally, the video should feature the 4-H participant stating name and county; a view of the food plot; and a description of project accomplishments, including what was learned.

It is acceptable and common for video to be taken during a single session at the food plot site when plants are present. Videos showing work accomplishments and progress during the coarse of the project typically are judged more favorably.  

Special video graphics, manipulations, or enhancements to the video will NOT be considered in judging.

Common Reasons for Disqualification

  • Incorrect plot size - plot is less than 4,628 sq. ft. or more than 6,262 sq. ft.
  • Lack of signatures - participant, parent, and county agent signatures are required for authenticating the project book on the cover page and the County Agent Assessment Score Sheet.
  • Incomplete County Agent Assessment Score Sheet - a county agent (or designated person) visits the site and answers questions on the score sheet. A legible signature is required to verify the existence of the food plot and that rules were followed.
  • Submitted past the due date - project book and video must be received at the county office on or before March 1 and the state office by March 5. County offices may require an earlier deadline for review and signatures.

Submission Guidelines 

Contact your local county Extension office for the deadline date to submit your entry. Before March 1, the county office will receive a link from the food plot project's state coordinator for uploading a color scanned PDF of the 4-H member's project book and video. 


The PDF copy of the project book should be in color, legible, and straight (not crooked) pages. Black and white images in a project book tend to transfer poorly and are challenging to judge.

The video needs to be clearly visible, as it will be distributed to judges in the manner received.

COUNTY OFFICE INFORMATION: The county office has the option of giving participants permission to upload the project book and video AFTER county review and signatures are obtained. Sometimes slower internet speeds or older office equipment may present difficulties when scanning the project book or transferring video. In these cases, the project book and/or video can be delivered to the project coordinator using other means, such as a paper copy or flash drive. Please email the project coordinator an alert about the incoming project book and video. It is recommended the county keep a backup copy of the project book and video.

Project Sponsor - Eagle Seed

We greatly appreciate Eagle Seed Company as the project sponsor. Eagle Seed donates the seed packet used in the food plots and provides awards for the contest. Brad and Joyce Doyle have been very generous with their support. Please thank them and their business for helping make this project a learning success!

Additional Resources

Find food plot resources on our website.

When enrolling in the 4-H Food Plot Project, agree to receive periodic emails.

Join the Arkansas 4-H Wildlife Facebook group by answering a few questions.

Join the Arkansas Forestry and Wildlife Extension Facebook page.

State Coordinator

Dr. Becky McPeake
Phone: (501) 671-2285
Email:  Rmcpeake@uada.edu

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