The Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation is based on the grounds of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) in Front Royal, VA, about an hour’s drive west from Washington, DC. The site is nestled alongside Shenandoah National Park, with the entire SCBI facility covering 3,200 acres of forest, grassland and pasture. Being located at an active research facility, which houses a range of endangered mammals, birds and amphibians, offers unique advantages to our programs and creates a compelling and engaging learning environment for our program participants.
In late June of 2011, SMSC broke ground on the construction of the Academic Center, Residential Facility, and Dining Commons, which were completed in late summer, 2012. These new buildings have greatly expanded our capacity to offer a broad range of conservation training opportunities. More so now than ever we can provide a spirited, dynamic and diverse learning community that will enrich the experiences of all that participate in our programs.
All three buildings were designed with a focus on environmental sustainability and “green” construction, and the entire SMSC campus has been awarded LEED gold certification. Some of these initiatives include the design of a green roof above the training labs at the Academic Center, the recycling of ceramic roofing tiles from renovated and demolished buildings, rainwater gardens, native species landscaping, and geothermal heating and cooling systems. Find out more here.
Construction proceeded quickly and we were all excited to watch the process first-hand. Check out our Construction Photo Gallery to look at how the site was transformed.
Except for scheduled special events (like the Autumn Conservation Festival), training courses (like those in the SMSC), and special programs, the facility is not open to the public. The SMSC organizes prospective student tours for undergraduate students, visit here for more tour information.
Approximate Driving Times:
Reagan National Airport (DCA) – 1 1/2 hours
Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) – 1 hour