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Wednesdays in April and October | 7 p.m.

Journey with Smithsonian scientists and other conservation professionals as they travel the globe to study and protect species and ecosystems. Share in their adventures during these free science lecture series.

The series is free and open to the public. Seating is limited, so arrive early. Lectures take place at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia.

Upcoming Lectures

Oct. 3 | "Black Bears of Virginia: Natural History and Management," speaker: David Kocka, wildlife biologist, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries

David Kocka is a district wildlife biologist for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. His current job responsibilities are the implementation of agency wildlife habitat and population programs over six counties in northwestern Virginia. He has spent considerable time on deer and black bear management issues. He has over 35 technical and/or popular publications to date, most recently publishing the book “Bear With Me, My Deer: Tails of a Virginia Wildlife Biologist” in 2017.

Oct. 10 | "Loggerhead Shrike Conservation: Saving North America’s Butcherbird," speaker: Leighann Cline, animal keeper, SCBI’s Center for Species Survival

Loggerhead shrike populations have fallen sharply over the past 40 years and the reasons for this decline are still poorly understood. This species, known for its behavior of impaling prey on thorns or barbed wire is listed as endangered or a species of conservation concern in all Canadian provinces and 26 U.S. states. Animal Keeper Leighann Cline will discuss loggerhead shrike natural history, reasons for decline and current multinational conservation efforts to save this unique songbird.

Oct. 17 | "The Disappearing Asian Elephant: Applying Conservation Science to Save Their Skins," speaker: John McEvoy, movement ecologist, SCBI's Conservation Ecology Center

Asian elephants are in real danger of disappearing from the world, with 10 times fewer left in the wild than their African counterparts. Paradoxically, Asian elephants are deeply embedded into human culture and civilization across their range, yet we know little about some of their basic ecology, movements and behavior in the wild. Myanmar represents possibly the last best hope for the Asian elephant with its expansive areas of intact forest, but elephant habitat is being encroached upon by humans, and a horrific skin poaching crisis has emerged in recent years. Smithsonian scientists are applying cutting-edge technology and supporting local, boots-on-the-ground actions to address the many threats facing the Asian elephants and, with the continued support and determination of local and international partners, hopefully guide these endangered giants off the path of extinction.

Oct. 24 | "When the Stork Doesn’t Deliver: Understanding Reproduction in the Endangered Whooping Crane," speaker: Megan Brown, reproductive biologist, SCBI’s Center for Species Survival

The only crane species endemic to North America, the whooping crane is considered an endangered species with approximately 594 surviving in the wild today. Megan Brown is a postdoctoral research fellow at SCBI studying management and reproduction of birds managed in captivity. She has worked closely with the whooping crane recovery program for the past nine years investigating whooping crane reproductive physiology and helping rear chicks for reintroduction. Her research directly supports conservation breeding efforts by developing assisted reproduction techniques for use in wild and captive bird populations and generates data for more informed management decisions. She is currently funded by a Morris Animal Foundation training fellowship investigating aspects of mate choice and endocrine function in whooping cranes.

Additional Details:

The SMSC Dining Hall will be open for dinner from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on lecture dates. Lecture guests will be offered a special price of $10 per person. If you plan to attend dinner, please RSVP to scbieducation@si.edu.


Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation Dining Hall
1500 Remount Road
Front Royal, VA 22630

Please note: pets are not allowed on SCBI property.


Directions from the east:

Take I-66 west to the Linden/Front Royal exit #13
At end of ramp, turn left, under freeway to stoplight at Route 55
Turn right (west) on Route 55 and travel five miles into Front Royal
Turn left at signal, Route 522/Remount Road
Drive approximately 2 miles and take a left into Gate 2 and follow event parking signs

Directions from Rappahannock:

From US 211 take 522 north ~ 12 miles
Turn right into Gate 2 and follow event parking signs