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SCBI School Outreach Programs

The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) in Front Royal, Va., offers a selection of hands-on and assembly-style programs designed to educate and inspire students about fundamental science, conservation, and environmental issues. Students will learn how SCBI staff are involved in groundbreaking scientific research pertaining to the conservation of ecosystems and endangered species locally, regionally, and globally. Outreach programs are correlated with the Virginia Standards of Learning.

Districts Served

SCBI School Outreach Programs are offered to public, private, and charter schools in Clarke, Fauquier, Frederick, Loudoun, Page, Rappahannock, Shenandoah, and Warren counties, and the City of Winchester. Outreach programs may also be booked for home school collectives, scout troops, and other educational organizations within these counties for a $35 surcharge. Programs are not offered outside these counties.

All programs are based on availability. Submitting a registration form does not guarantee a particular date; you will be contacted by FONZ's SCBI education office once your registration form is received.

Classroom Programs

Founded on current SCBI research, these programs allow students to "become the scientist" by applying the same scientific methods and procedures used by the scientists at the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. Classroom programs are 55 minutes long in order to fit within a standard class period. Maximum class size is 30 students.

Cost per program: $70 per class. A $35 surcharge applies to home school collectives, scout troops, and other educational organizations.

Grade 3: What’s For Lunch?

Investigate an important adaptation for species survival: teeth! Students will collect data and analyze replica skulls from threatened and endangered mammals to determine the consumer group classification. Discover how this information is helpful to scientists studying endangered species!

Grade 4: The Wonderful World of Wood Turtles

Discover the adaptations, habitats, and struggles for the wood turtle, a threatened species native to the Shenandoah Valley. Learn how field researchers use population surveys to study species. Work as a team to conduct a mock survey!

Grade 7: Black-footed Ferret: Bottleneck Genes

What is genetic diversity and why is it necessary to save species? How have scientists used Species Survival Plans and advances in technology to bring the black-footed ferret back from the brink of extinction? Find out in this interactive journey through the recovery efforts for this North American species!

Assembly Programs

Using multimedia, these presentations are ideal for large groups of students. Presenters will use interactive teaching techniques to keep students engaged. Programs are approximately 40 minutes, with an additional 10-15 minutes afterward for questions.

Cost per program:

  • Up to 100 students: $175
  • 101 to 150 students: $225
  • 151 to 200 students: $275
  • 201 to 250 students: $325

Presentations for student groups larger than 250 will be considered on a case-by-case basis. The program fee will depend on the number of students.

Assembly program topics will include, but are not limited to:

  • Grades 3-5: animal adaptations, Virginia’s native wildlife, human influences on the environment
  • Grades 6-8: genetic diversity, movement ecology, species interactions within ecosystems
  • Grades 9-12: local and global biodiversity, wildlife trafficking, conservation careers

Program content specifics will be discussed with FONZ staff during the reservation process.


Programs can be scheduled only for Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays during the school year. Program availability is dependent upon staff availability.

The schedule fills quickly, so register early for your preferred dates. Bookings are at the discretion of the program coordinator. Programs are not currently offered on weekends. If schools are closed on the day of your visit due to inclement weather or other circumstances, we will make every effort to reschedule.

Please contact the FONZ Education Office at SCBI for questions and to request a registration form.