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Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute Open to the Public for Conservation Discovery Day

  • Students posing wearing protective clothing wildlife scientists studying zoonotic diseases wear in the field.
    Students pose wearing protective clothing that scientists studying zoonotic diseases wear when collecting samples in the field.
  • Students at Conservation Discovery Day wearing protective clothing scientists use in the field and playing games.
    Students playing games and wearing protective clothing wildlife veterinarians studying zoonotic diseases wear in the field.
  • A bird-banding demonstration by Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center Scientists at Conservation Discovery Day.
    Students watch a bird-banding demonstration by Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center scientists at Conservation Discovery Day.
  • Veterinarian technician Lisa Ware demonstrating equipment veterinarians use caring for more than 20 species at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.
    Veterinary technician Lisa Ware demonstrates the equipment scientists use to care for the more than 20 species living at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.
  • Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
    Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.
  • Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
    Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.
  • Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
    Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.

The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) in Front Royal, Virginia, will host a day of science-filled activities for college and high school-aged students Saturday, Oct. 6, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Designed to inspire students considering a future career in science, wildlife biology, animal care and sustainability Conservation Discovery Day will feature special demonstrations, hands-on activities and talks from scientists who are working to save species around the globe. Visitors must purchase vehicle passes to attend.

Students will have the opportunity learn about the world of wildlife veterinary medicine and the science of bird-banding and wildlife camera trapping in addition to many other activities.

Guests can go behind the scenes at the veterinary hospital and learn how vets at SCBI care for more than 20 endangered and vulnerable species. They can step into SCBI’s scientists’ shoes with hands-on activities, including testing an elephant for a lethal virus, extracting a DNA sample or mapping a forest using real satellite images.

Actual tools scientists use in the field and laboratory will also be available for students to see and touch. SCBI’s geographic information systems laboratory will have GPS devices available to use on a scavenger hunt in the field.

Special timed tours will take guests to SCBI’s forest plot—an actual research site in the forest of the surrounding Shenandoah Mountains. Scientists will demonstrate how they use the site to learn about forests and how wildlife cameras work.

Guests with competitive spirits can participate in conservation-themed games. They can race to see who can outfit themselves in protective equipment against infectious disease the fastest or test their knowledge of infectious diseases for prizes.

Students will be able to attend career panels featuring Smithsonian scientists and animal care staff to learn about different career paths and how they can become the next generation of conservationists. For a complete list of events, activities and demonstrations, visit the Zoo’s website.

Conservation Discovery Day will be held rain or shine. SCBI is a large and hilly campus. Appropriate attire for outdoor activities and comfortable walking shoes are highly recommended. Passes for Conservation Discovery Day are available to purchase via the Zoo’s website based on vehicle size. A standard car pass is $30, a small school bus/van pass is $50 and a school bus or chartered bus pass is $100. Car passes can be bought in advance or at the gate until passes are sold out.

SCBI plays a leading role in the Smithsonian’s global efforts to save wildlife species from extinction and train future generations of conservationists. SCBI spearheads research programs at its headquarters in Front Royal, Virginia, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and at field research stations and training sites worldwide. SCBI scientists tackle some of today’s most complex conservation challenges by applying and sharing what they learn about animal behavior and reproduction, ecology, genetics, migration and conservation sustainability.