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Black Bear
American Black Bear photographed with a camera trap in the forests surrounding SMSC in Front Royal, VA.

SMSC is excited to announce the second offering of this workshop, specifically designed for local landowners looking to have all their camera trapping questions answered. Spend two days with an expert Smithsonian Wildlife Ecologist who has spent years using trail cameras to study wildlife around the globe, and make sure you are getting the most from your trail cameras.


Over the last 10 years trail cameras have become more user-friendly, more effective, and more affordable. As a result these devices increasingly offer a unique opportunity for landowners to learn a lot about what species are using their properties and how they use it. They also provide a chance for landowners to connect with the biodiversity on their land, and to learn more about the biology and ecology of these species first-hand. But while setting out a camera isn’t difficult, seemingly subtle decisions in camera placement can have huge impacts on the number of photos collected, and the diversity of species photographed. It can take many years of using these devices in a range of conditions to accumulate useful knowledge about how to most effectively deploy these devices, and beginners may face frustration and disappointment. In addition, there are literally hundreds of camera choices available today, and choosing what model is most appropriate for one’s needs can be a daunting task.

This workshop is designed and taught by Dr. Joe Kolowski, a Faculty member at the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation. Dr. Kolowski has deployed camera traps in the rainforests of Peru and the woodland savannahs of Botswana, and has been running camera traps in the forests of the Shenandoah Valley for nearly 7 years. He has trained biologists from around the world in the deployment of these devices and in the analysis of the photos captured. The workshop will be a mix of field activities, demonstrations, and interactive lectures. Over the course of two full days the training will include:
  • Discussion of the range of camera models, capabilities and customization options available, providing guidance for purchase decisions, based on one’s interests and budget.
  • Practice customizing and setting a range of trail cameras in the field, including tips for optimal placement in a range of scenarios and for a wide range of species.
  • Demonstration and discussion of freely available software options for photo management and simple data summaries.
  • Local and international research case studies conducted by Dr. Kolowski and his colleagues using camera traps that highlight how cameras can be applied to answer a range of different questions.
  • Local options for getting involved in camera trapping research.
  • Open Q & A period to address participant’s questions relevant to their own properties and interests.


November 3-4, 2018 (9am – 4pm)


Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia

Application Procedure

The Camera Trapping Tools for Landowners workshop is offered through the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation as a professional training program. Those interested in attending should email us at with your name and address. You’ll then receive further instructions for course registration.

Course Costs

The course fee for this program is $250. Participants may choose to stay on campus in the Residential Facility in one of our student dormitory ($67/night) or hotel-style rooms ($91/night). A meal plan (full-service buffet) may be purchased in advance which would cover breakfast, lunch, dinner and two coffee/snack breaks in the Dining Commons for both days of the course ($60.00), starting with breakfast Saturday morning. Otherwise meals and coffee breaks can be purchased individually as needed.

Payment Deadline: October 15, 2018 (Note that spaces in the course are allocated as registration payments are received. Registration before the deadline is strongly encouraged to guarantee attendance.)

For more information


About SMSC

We offer hands-on conservation training in the latest research and field techniques at the Smithsonian’s endangered species facility in Front Royal, Virginia.

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Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation