Welcome to the 4-H Forest Ecology Contest Website!

Each year, 4-H youth from across the state convene near Gainesville, Florida to test their knowledge of Florida's forests. A series of contest stations enable youth to test their identification skills, compass skills, and knowledge of forest ecosystems. Youth will be asked to identify plants from samples, identify insect and disease damage from samples, identify wildlife on a forest walk, follow a compass course, and answer multiple-choice questions on ecology and topography (maps). Seniors will also be tested on tree measurement and compete in a quiz bowl.


The 2018 4-H Forest Ecology Contest

The next Forest Ecology contest will be held on Saturday, April 14, 2018 at the Roland T. Stern Learning Center at the Austin Cary Forest just outside of Gainesville. The featured ecosystems will be bottomland hardwoods and sandhills.


  • Registration for the 2018 contest will run from March 5 through March 30,2018, using 4-H Online. Late registrations will be accepted until April 6, 2018 with a $30 fee per county.
  • There is a charge of $5.00 per competing youth for registration, insurance, and snacks. All adults and youth observers must also register, but do not need to pay. Advance registration for all is mandatory.
  • For information on who can participate and what to expect the day of the contest, see the About the Contest page.
  • For information about the contest content and what participants need to learn, see the Contest Stations page.
  • The scoresheets for all the contest stations available online. Feel free to download them and use them to prepare your group for the contest.
  • NEW RESOURCE - Willie Wood's Study Guides for identifying trees and plants.
  • NEW RESOURCE - Paul Decker's video on using a Biltmore Stick.
  • NEW OPPORTUNITY - Registered 4-H’ers are invited to submit a poem to the 2018 Nature Poetry Contest. The entry form will soon be available on the contest page. Winners will be announced on April 14, 2018 at the Forest Ecology Contest in Gainesville FL.
Please contact us through the address at the bottom of the page if you have any other questions about participating in the contest. Hope to see you there!


Attend the 2017 Fall 4-H Forest Ecology Clinic!

  • When: Saturday, September 23, 2017 - 9am to 4pm
  • Where: Roland T. Stern Learning Center at the Austin Cary Forest, located northeast of Gainesville on Waldo Road (map). The learning center is a 20-minute drive from downtown Gainesville.
  • Cost: $5 for participants. Observers are free!
  • Register: Registration will be facilitated through 4-H Online beginning September 1, 2017. If you need help registering please see the Florida 4-H Forest Ecology page or refer to this document.
  • Details: The 4-H Forest Ecology Clinic will help youth, coaches, and agents prepare for the 4-H Forest Ecology Contest in April. SFRC faculty, staff, and students will be on hand to present information and answer questions about tree, plant, disease, and insect identification, compass skills, map reading, tree measurement, Quiz Bowl, and the two featured ecosystems for 2018: bottomland hardwoods and sandhills. A mock contest will help familiarize the youth with the process of the contest. Beginners are encouraged to attend! Youth should bring a clipboard, paper, pencil, and compass. Senior contestants should bring their biltmore stick. Everyone should bring a water bottle and lunch.



What's New?

If it's been a few years since your team competed in the Forest Ecology Contest, you might want to look over this list of changes.


Changes that started with the 2016 4-H Forest Ecology Contest:

  1. Five new species of reptiles and amphibians have been added to Wildlife on the Forest Hike: Cuban brown anole, Green anole, Green Treefrog, Southern Leopard Frog, and Southern Toad.
  2. At the Trees of Florida station, Seniors will need to write out the appropriate common name for each specimen. (A list of names will not be provided.) Be sure to print neatly and be sure your answer is legible. Common names must be the ones used on the Florida 4-H Forest Ecology website and must be complete. (E.g., "maple" is not a correct answer for "red maple.") We recommend that you practice in advance using the scoresheets for the contest.
  3. Also, to provide more of a challenge for participants in the botanical stations, we have moved a few species around.
    • Cabbage Palm has moved from Trees of Florida to Plants of Florida so that participants will need to distinguish it from Saw Palmetto.
    • To replace Cabbage Palm on the Trees list,
    • Bluff Oak (Quercus austrina) has been added as a Upland Hardwoods plant to replace Hophornbeam. (This change will first affect the 2017 contest.)
    • Water Hickory (Carya aquatica) has been added as a Bottomland Hardwoods plant to replace American Hornbeam. (This change will first affect the 2018 contest.)


Changes that started with the 2015 4-H Forest Ecology Contest:

Several changes were made to this site on February 10, 2015 to provide increased clarity. This new information applied to the 2015 contest and will apply to all future contests:

  • Clarification on who can participate. (Members of the winning Senior team are not eligible to compete again. Highest scoring individual Seniors may compete again as team members, but cannot score in the individual competition.)
  • Updated list of what to bring. (Remember to bring insect repellent, sunscreen, and a hat!)
  • Change in how Seniors will give answers in the Tree of Florida station. (Seniors will write the name of the tree in the blank when given a list of common names.)
  • Clarification on the rules for Quiz Bowl. (In the Directed Questions event, after the question is read, the team captain has 10 seconds to begin the answer and 10 seconds to complete the answer. Team members may collaborate and discuss, but the captain must answer the question.)
  • Clarification on the Tree Measurement station. (Contestants will estimate the volume of the wood in each tree, not in an entire forested  area.)

The following changes were made to this site on December 20, 2014. This information first applied to the 2015 contest and will apply to all future contests:

  • Change in Senior Quiz from ecosystems to forest management content
  • Change in Quiz Bowl structure
  • Clarity on scoring for the Tree Measurement station
  • Additional information to help youth study:


Past Winners


Go See Florida Forests!