Successful programs of crop wild relative (CWR) exploration, conservation, and utilization are ultimately dependent on sustained public prioritization and support, which in turn requires public awareness and engagement. Here we discuss the importance of advancing North America public education and outreach activities related to CWR, including improving capacity for public engagement, stakeholder building, partnering for education and outreach, and programmatic development. We focus specifically on the potential of botanic gardens as excellent partners for public engagement on CWR due to their presence in major population centers, knowledge of informal educational practices, and familiarity with plant biodiversity and agricultural crop species. We also discuss CWR outreach efforts outside of North America as well as related environmental education efforts within the region. This chapter provides an informal education and outreach primer for researchers who want to incorporate public engagement into their CWR research programs, as well as for informal education professionals seeking to capitalize on the growing public interest in food systems to explore food-related biodiversity topics.
This Chapter is part of North American Crop Wild Relatives, Volume 1 (see attachment below containing the introduction if interested in acquiring the entire volume and looking into other chapters).