The Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation (SMSC) celebrated the completion of its expansive new academic facilities on Oct. 18, at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) in Front Royal. This collaboration between SCBI and George Mason University began in 2008 when the program accepted 15 undergraduate students to study at SCBI.
“The Smithsonian is proud to continue our strong partnership with George Mason University, and the new academic center . . . will help create tomorrow’s leaders in conservation biology for decades to come,” said Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough.
The new facility can accommodate up to six times as many students and includes teaching laboratories, an atrium, classrooms, offices, a dining facility and exercise room. The buildings in the new complex were built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold Standard and include features such as geothermal energy, green roofs, a rain garden, wildlife-friendly landscaping and low-flow fixtures reducing the use of water within the entire complex. In addition, SMSC is a “walking campus” with parking only on the outer edges, thus creating a campus with a small carbon footprint.
SMSC offers students from all different fields the opportunity to live and work closely with leading experts in the field of conservation. Because SCBI is home to more than 20 endangered species, participants in the program have the chance to work with some of the most rare and endangered species on the planet. The school also offers numerous workshops and community-based training courses and hosts a number of events for other organizations.