BRFAL eMammal participants Tour of Smithsonian’s Conservation Biology InstituteBy Jim & Denise Pilversack
As a way of saying “Thanks" to volunteers that participated in the eMammal trapping project the Smithsonian provided a tour of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, VA.
The center is not open to the public so this invitation was a special treat. The tour of this 3200 acre site revealed a campus with a fascinating history and a wide array of projects and programs.
The campus started as an Army base for the training and breeding of war horses and mules during World War I. The site also served as a German POW camp where detainees built stone walls, worked on the site and helped work farms in the nearby area. The base was perfect for the transition to a research center for endangered species.
The SCBI started primarily as a breeding center for endangered animals but has grown into a center known worldwide for its veterinary and reproductive research as well as dozens of other projects including the eMammal study. Currently the center partners with James Madison U. to offer a semester of conservation biology focused coursework. They also offer professional seminars on a wide variety of conservation related subjects. The SCBI attracts top scientists to work on projects ranging from rare plants and animals to weather and atmospheric data collection. The Center also provides support to the National Zoo including growing feed crops for the zoo animals.