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What You'll Study
  • Get hands-on experience in conservation research field methods, with an emphasis on developing observational skills.
  • Define an ecological research question, and conduct a guided pilot study.
  • Share your findings in a final presentation and poster.
  • Explore the complexity of environmental problems in social, political, and economic contexts through class debates and discussions.
Program Details

June 25 -July 1, 2023 (1 week)

College Credits

2 credits


Includes instruction, room and board, tuition, and activity fees

Who's Eligible?

Rising high school juniors and seniors

Meet the Faculty

Stephanie Lessard-Pilon
Stephanie Lessard-Pilon
Associate Professor of Conservation Studies
Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation
Stephanie Lessard-Pilon has worked in a wide range of ecological systems, from East Coast forests and streams to deep sea environments. She is particularly interested in the role of species interactions, including biologically-mediated disturbance and facilitation, on the structure and function of ecosystems. Stephanie is passionate about improving conservation education, engaging with diverse audiences about conservation-related issues, and empowering the public to take conservation action.


In this residential course, you’ll live on the SMSC campus for one week, learning through a combination of classroom lectures, discussions, field experiences, and outdoor adventures with SMSC faculty and other conservation practitioners. You’ll be introduced to the major concepts of ecology that apply to species and habitat conservation, including:

  • diversity
  • succession
  • species interactions
  • communities
  • populations and ecosystems

By the end of the course, you’ll be able to:

  • Understand the complex nature of present-day conservation in practice
  • Investigate complex ecological systems and ask questions about the influence of human impacts
  • Critically review conservation issues and responses based on sound science
  • Network with leading conservation science and policy practitioners
  • Develop skills in ecological field research, collect preliminary data, define a research question to address an issue in conservation, and present your question and preliminary findings to a general audience.
Take the next step toward a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity