The USDA-ARS National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS) is a coordinated network of 19 genebank locations throughout the United States that perform research to acquire, maintain,
regenerate, document, distribute, characterize, and evaluate plant genetic resources that, through breeding and selection programs, underpin crop improvement and agricultural production (Byrne
et al., 2018). The NPGS currently maintains 596,000+ accessions representing 15,900+ species (USDA, 2018). It is also one of the world’s largest distributors of plant genebank materials, distributing 279,000 accessions in 2017, with approximately one-third of those accessions provided to the international community.
A US-based training program for plant genetic resources management is clearly needed to benefit future genebank managers as well as plant breeders and other scientists who use plant genebank collections. An estimated 30% of the staff members of the NPGS are, or will be, eligible to retire over the next 5 years.