Field Conservation Offered for High School Students at Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation

Posted: August 22, 2013 at 5:01 am, Last Updated: August 23, 2013 at 6:40 am

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By Stephanie Lessard-Pilon, assistant professor, Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation

High school students got to develop a research project and work with conservation professionals. Photo courtesy of SMSC

High school students got to develop a research project and work with conservation professionals. Photo courtesy of SMSC

This summer, 19 talented high school juniors and seniors had the opportunity to learn about maned wolf behavior by observing the animals with a behavioral ecologist. The students tracked mammals through Northern Virginia forests, figured out how pollution affects local watersheds, learned how to monitor the nesting habitats of migratory birds and determined the impact of land use on insect and amphibian biodiversity.

The projects were conducted with Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation (SMSC) faculty, Smithsonian scientists and other conservation professionals as part of an exciting one-week, 2-credit course, CONS 100: Introduction to Field Conservation. The students, many of whom also participated in the Washington Youth Summit on the Environment, stayed in the new living and learning community at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Va., during the course.

For CONS 100, students developed new skills in ecological field work, experienced encounters with rare and endangered species (such as kiwis and black-footed ferrets), joined in outdoor adventures on the Shenandoah River and hiked in Shenandoah National Park. Students worked in small groups to conduct preliminary field work leading to the development of a novel research question and their own research projects.

Available to high school students across the nation, this course will be offered again in summer 2014. This and other new courses are described on the SMSC website. To learn more about CONS 100, check out a highlight video at http://vimeo.com/70488713.

Write to Robin Herron at rherron@gmu.edu

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