Iowa’s ScoutPro, a software ap­­plication that identifies crop pests using mobile devices, was named last week as one of 10 national semi-finalists in the first-ever Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge, sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business Global Social Enterprise Ini­tiative.

The challenge is designed to showcase ideas and business innovations being developed in rural areas.

"The outstanding group of en­­trepreneurs selected as semi-finalists reflects the depth and diversity of rural business ideas in cultivation across the nation," said AFBF President Bob Stallman. "They are proof that great business ideas can be generated anywhere."

After a series of virtual team interviews, judges will choose four finalists to continue in the challenge. The four challenge finalists will each win $15,000. They will pitch their business ideas to a team of judges at the AFBF annual convention in January in hope of winning the Rural Entrepreneur of the Year Award for an additional $15,000, and the Peoples’ Choice Award for $10,000 more, totaling prize money of up to $40,000 to implement their ideas.

The Farm Bureau Rural En­­tre­­preneurship Challenge is a key component of the Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative, a joint effort between AFBF and Georgetown McDonough.

ScoutPro, headquartered in Lone Tree, was created by three Iowa farm kids: Michael Koenig, Stuart McCulloh and Holden Nyhus. The three developed the software while working at Iowa State University’s Agricultural En­­­terprise Initiative.

The ScoutPro software is de­­sign­ed to work through a series of classifications and questions on an iPad or other mobile device to help an agronomist and farmer identify pests and diseases in crops. It replaces bulky manuals that traditionally have been used to identify crop pests and diseases.

The Iowa Farm Bureau Fed­­eration is an investor in Scout Pro.