How do we educate the public about plant breeding, or get young students interested in plant breeding as a career? The practice of plant breeding is universally essential, yet nearly invisible to the public. Rural backgrounds and college-level exposure account for many students interest in plant breeding. Innovative media approaches offer an approach that may help reach students who might not otherwise become exposed to the subject.
To help increase interest in plant breeding, we are creating a series of educational videos intended to reach out to the general public and potential students, as well as provide educational material for students interested in the field. The videos are being produced through a contract with UW-Madison’s Merit Media.
When completed, these videos will be available through the UW-Madison Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics program website below. They will be available for download in a format suitable for portable video players, and will also be available in a higher resolution on DVDs. This will enable us to reach a wide audience, both for viewing at home and in classrooms around the country.
Fields of Study
The first video series will be a series of interviews with accomplished plant breeders, covering a wide range of important crops including maize, peppers, biofuel crops such as switchgrass, etc.
Each “Fields of Study” video focuses on individual breeders and their background and contributions to the field. The breeders will discuss what crops they work on, the importance and impact of their research, and their personal connection to their chosen career. The emphasis is on the human aspects of plant breeding, and what they most enjoy about improving plants for human use.
These videos are aimed at a general audience, and will be a primer for interest in plant breeding. They will also have educational value for people who would like to learn about the breeding efforts that are behind the foods that they eat.
These are the Fields of Study videos that are currently available:
- Corn Breeding, with Bill Tracy
- Pepper Breeding, with Molly Jahn
- Watermelon Breeding, with Xingping Zhang
- Apple Breeding, with Jim Luby
The second video series are be step-by-step, instructional videos on how to make controlled crosses with plants. The videos will cover a wide range of techniques applicable to open-pollinated, insect-pollinated, and self-pollinated crops, ranging from agronomic to horticultural species. The controlled pollination method videos are technically-oriented and are targeted to high school and college students with some background in plant biology.
They will be useful for students learning about plant breeding methods, and may be of interest to backyard and commercial hybridizers of various crops.
These are the crops that we are including in our project:
- Cucurbits (Cucumber, Squash, Melon)
- Solanum (Potato & Tomato)
- Carrots and Beets
- Small Grains (Wheat, Barley, Oats)
- Legumes (Peas, Beans, & Alfalfa)
- Fruit trees