Videos and Education in the Digital Age
With pre-recorded sessions and audio-visual conferencing technologies at the forefront of this year’s conference, it seems fitting that video creation was a centerpiece of the CPC-focused sessions.
Educational, outreach, and training videos continue to be a priority for building content for CPC’s evolving Rare Plant Academy.
In a creative video presentation, CPC staff member Joe Davitt demonstrated a process for generating the storyboards and video content sent to professional video editors working with CPC. His deliberative, well-thought-out approach can be expanded for use by content contributors for CPC’s new Applied Plant Conservation Online Course project. The course builds on the weeklong in-person course formerly conducted in partnership with many CPC members. As an online course, it will be able to effectively repurpose existing visual content created for the Rare Plant Academy. Funded by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) offices of California, Colorado, and Nevada, the course helps address gaps in the botanical knowledge and experience of BLM staff, and also of contractors, land managers, conservationists, and others who work with our nation’s botanical resources.
To encourage more partners to work towards developing Rare Plant Academy video content, the breakout discussions at this year’s National Meeting centered on developing an outline for videos. Attendees divided into groups focused on six broad topics that ranged from plant advocacy to genetic diversity concepts. Moderators led the groups through the development of an outline. Through CPC’s Institute of Library and Museum Services (IMLS) grant, institutions will receive funding to use the outlines for actual content generation that will be coming soon to the Rare Plant Academy.
The CPC network is fortunate to have the knowledge and tools to expand the skills of people currently working with plants and to train the next generation of rare plant conservationists. The Rare Plant Academy and the developing online course are perfect platforms for sharing that knowledge. We look forward to seeing both grow in the years to come.
On Local Conservation and Global Initiatives – Keynote
How do we actually Save Plants? Everyone involved with the Center for Plant Conservation wants to be able to not only answer this question, but also demonstrate how to accomplish this ambitious goal. As the world finds itself in a biodiversity extinction crisis, our need to find the answers is increasingly pressing.
Quick Talks, Big Subjects
Across six themed sessions, the 2020 National Meeting hosted 24 short virtual presentations in place of the usual lightning talks. These sessions combined video and slide shows with live Q&A, providing opportunities for connection across the network. Staff, students, and partners of our Participating Institutions shared their current work on subjects fundamental to plant conservation. Seed collections were much discussed, ranging from the specialized how-to of collecting orchid seeds to how much and how frequently to collect from small populations.
New Network Project on Seed Longevity
As reflected in many of the research sessions, seed collections are fundamental to much of the conservation work done by CPC Participating Institutions. Their role as an insurance against catastrophic loss is contingent on the seeds surviving cold storage. To stay better informed about the status of rare plant seed collections, CPC is working with the National Laboratory for Genetic Resources Preservation (NLGRP) to examine the possibility of using various physical and molecular metrics, including RNA integrity, to measure seed viability.
During a special session, CPC Vice President Katie Heineman, Ph.D., and NLGRP plant physiologist Chris Walters, Ph.D., outlined their ambitious project. Funded by the IMLS, they hope to not only determine the utility of the method for monitoring rare plant seed collections, but also to match plant traits (life histories, habitats, phenology, etc.) with trends in seed longevity. The project depends on the collaboration of the CPC network – working to provide both new and old seeds for the research. Many project participants had questions for the project leads. Whether working on the project or not, members of the CPC network engaged in the session and seemed eager to learn about the life expectancy of their precious seeds.