UACES Facebook 4H Wildlife Food Plot Project

4-H Wildlife Food Plot Project

Wheat stalks up close with barn and pond in background
DINNER'S SERVED -- Wheat is a standard food plot recommendation because of its adaptability to many soil types and attractiveness particularly to white-tailed deer. (Image courtesy Becky McPeake, University of Arkansas.) 

The 4-H Wildlife Food Plot Project provides an opportunity for Arkansas Junior and Senior 4-Hers to demonstrate their skills with preparing, establishing, maintaining and observing a small wildlife food plot using provided seed for the purpose of food and cover establishment for wildlife.

This Food Plot Project is intended to introduce youth to ecology concepts and habitat practices for wildlife. Food plots are only a small part of a comprehensive wildlife habitat plan. Other practices such as establishing native plants, thinning forests, prescribed burning, building brush piles, and controlling invasive plants and animals are examples of additional practices.

For the 4-H Wildlife Food Plot Project, participants submit written, photo, and video reports of field activities.  All Junior and Senior 4-H members ages 9 to 19 are eligible. 

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 June 1 through 4-H Online. Youth may start project activities (e.g., collect soil samples, apply soil amendments) prior to registration deadline.
Why:  To educate youth on the proper techniques of food plot establishment to benefit game animals and other wildlife species
How:   Contact your local County Extension Agent for more information or to register for the contest. For a registration fee of $20, youth receive enough seed to establish approximately 1/8 acre (5,445 square feet) food plot and a year’s membership to the Quality Deer Management Association’s (QDMA’s) Rack Pack youth program.
  • General Information
    • The 4-H member must register for the Wildlife Food Plot Project by June 1 on 4-H Online. A registration fee is charged to cover program costs.
    • The 4-H member is responsible for equipment, materials and supplies associated with the project with the exception of provided seeds.  At least one exclusion cage is suggested for placement inside the plot to observe plant growth. (A limited number are available on loan from the county office upon request to the state coordinator.)
    • 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.)
    • The 4-H member will complete a food plot record book and a brief video (3 minutes maximum) used for judging projects.  Both are due March 1.
    • Youth should schedule at least one site visit at the food plot from their County Extension Agent or someone on their behalf as designed by the county Extension office. The score sheet from this visit is included in the project record book. The 4-H member is required to attend the site visit.
    • Periodically participants should receive a publication from Quality Deer Management. If you do not receive a publication by August, contact your county office who will then contact the project coordinator.
    • Contest winners will be announced in March and recognized at the Arkansas Wildlife Habitat Education Program (WHEP) State Contest, which is typically held the last Friday in April. Check the 4-H Calendar of Events for date and location.
  • Rules
    • Youth must be enrolled as a 4-H member and register for the 4-H Wildlife Food Plot Project by June 1 through 4-H Online.
    • Youth will prepare, establish, maintain, and observe a food plot that meets specified requirements. 
    • Youth prepare and submit a project record book (including county agent site visit) and video to their County Extension Office (due March 1) to receive credit for participation. The County Office will then forward project materials electronically to the state coordinator for evaluation by a judging team.
    • Youth should schedule at least one site visit from their County Extension Agent or someone designed by the county office on their behalf. Youth need to be present during this site visit. A County Agent Score Sheet from this site visit should be included in the project record book.
    • Youth can work as a group of up to four individuals on a single plot. Only the primary 4-Her under whose name the 4-H Food Plot Project is enrolled will receive project correspondence, seed packet, and magazine subscription. List additional group members when enrolling the primary 4-Her in 4-H Online. Each individual must complete a project record book and video to receive recognition and awards.
    • Youth are to conduct all food plot activities except those which safety is of concern, for example driving a tractor for plot preparation. Adult assistance is expected and should be noted in the record book.
    • Youth must plant the seed they are given. No additional seed may be added. Participants will be contacted by the local County Extension Agent to schedule a time to pick up seeds.
    • Plots must be planted no later than October 20.
    • Youth will be allowed to hunt over project plots.
    • All plots should be protected from livestock.
    • If seed fails to produce a crop, the 4-Her will remain eligible for recognition and awards.  Many “native” or “natural” food plots are a valuable source of food and cover for wildlife.
    Recognition & Awards
    • Youth who complete all project requirements (including record book and video) will receive a certificate of project completion provided to their County Extension Office.
    • The 4-H food plot project record book and video will be used for judging and are due at the County Extension Office by March 1.
    • The County Extension Office will submit electronically the project record book as a PDF and the video to the state 4-H Food Plot Project Coordinator no later than March 5. (No report covers.)
    • Juniors and Seniors will be awarded first, second, and third place in each district. One top state Junior and Senior will be recognized.
    • The top state Junior winner will be determined by reviewing project materials of those who win first place in each District.
    • New for 2017-2018 Contest:  In case of a tie, the winner may be determined by interview at the discretion of the juding committee. Participants will be interviewed individually using a video conferencing system (e.g., Zoom) at a County Extension Office. Judges will be present on-line and ask each participant questions about their food plot project.  Be prepared to give a brief overview of the project followed by questions from county agents and wildlife biologists.  Although there is no time limit, the expected length of the interview is less than 10 minutes. 
    • The top state Junior and Senior winners from the previous year are not eligible to win awards or recognition in the same division for the current project year, but they are encouraged to participate.  
  • Timeline
    June 1   
    Deadline to register
    April - June
    Collect soil sample (you can do this even before registering!)
    August 15
    Seed available
    October 20
    Deadline to plant food plot
    November – January
    Site visit from local County Extension Agent or someone on their behalf
    March 1
    Project record book and video due to County Extension Office
    March - April
    Announce Junior and Senior district winners
    last Friday in April (check 4-H Calender of Events)
    Recognize district and state winners at 4-H Wildlife Habitat Education Program (WHEP) State Contest
  • Plot Requirements & Recommendations
    • The plot must be approximately 1/8 acre in size. Thus, the plots should cover around 5,445 sq ft.
    • Seed is not to be split between multiple plots.
    • Better plots are those situated close to natural cover such as woods, fence rows, or brush piles with consideration to adequate sunlight.
    • Plots should not be located very close to houses or other human activities.  However, if there is no alternative, this is permissible.
    • At least one exclusion cage is suggested for placement 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 4-H food plot coordinator.
    • Using a trail (game) camera is optional to observe wildlife usage of the food plot.
  • Project Documentation
    • The project record book can be downloaded at this website or contact your local County Extension Office.
    • The project record book is to be prepared by the 4-H member, completed throughout the course of the project, finished, and turned in to the County Extension Office no later than March 1. The project record book can be either hand written (neatness counts) or typed.
    • A brief video (3 minutes maximum) will be submitted. Youth are judged based on (1) description of work and accomplishments, and (2) presentation skills. The video should feature the 4-H participant stating name and county; a view of the food plot; and the 4-H participant providing a description of project work and accomplishments.
    • The entire video should be shot in the field at the food plot site.  Special video graphics, manipulations, or enhancements will not be considered in judging and therefore are not recommended in the video.
    • The project record book includes a score sheet completed by a County Extension Agent (or someone on their behalf) who visits the food plot site. Project youth must be present during the site visit.
  • Project Support Materials 
  • Sponsors
     We greatly appreciate these sponsors of the Arkansas 4-H Food Plot Project. Please express your appreciation by supporting these businesses. 


Boy with pelt over head

4-H Wildlife Habitat Education Program

4-Hers learn the basics of wildlife identification, wildlife foods, ecology concepts, interpreting aerial photos, and wildlife management practices.  Senior 4-Hers apply wildlife management practices, write a wildlife management plan as a team, and provide oral justifications of their plan. 

Learn more
Back of boy measuring tree with a stick

4-H Forestry Contest

Teaches Senior 4-Hers tree identification and measurements, and basic forest ecology.  The state winning team competes in a national event which includes tree id and measurements, plus log rolling, wood cutting, and other lumberjack activities

Learn more
Graphic of Arkansas shooting sports program with clover

4-H Shooting Sports

The 4-H Shooting Sports Program offers several competitive events annually, including the Youth Hunter Education Contest, Range Events, and a Junior Olympic Competition qualifying event. 

Learn more
Spotted fawn standing and facing forward

4-H Wildlife O-Rama

Stretch your wildlife knowledge by identifying sign and foods, and learning wildlife ecology concepts at this competitive District (Juniors and Seniors) and State (qualifying Seniors only) 4-H event.

Learn more