San Juan Mountains Colorado Great Place, Great People.

            Telluride                                  Mountian Village

Smithsonian In the Rockies

by Jessica Dumke 

Smithsonian In The Rockies Update #4


Smithsonian Biodiversity Monitoring

November Update from Telluride School District

 The 5th, 7th, and 10th grade science classes at Telluride School District, with the help of our Outdoor Education Teacher, have been busy visiting our new monitoring plots this fall.  The two fifth grade classes are monitoring the four plots in Telluride Town Park and in Bear Creek Preserve, the two seventh grade classes are monitoring the four plots on the National Forest Service wedge in the Telluride valley, and the two tenth grade classes are monitoring the two plots on the South Fork of the San Miguel River in Illium Valley.  The main objective for this fall was to collect the tree data for the plots.  Students learned to identify our tree species, measure the trees’ DBH, and record and map the (X,Y) coordinates of the trees’ position in the plots.  Fortunately, there are only a few tree species in the Telluride area such as aspen, Colorado blue spruce, Engelman spruce, and some firs.  We know our evergreens!


Being at ~8,800 feet elevation, the trees have lost their leaves and we’ve had about two feet of snow, although some of the snow in the sunny areas has melted.  Ms. Dumke’s class did the final data collection the day before Halloween on five inches of snow.


Both the 5th and 7th grades have done some insect collecting, too.  The collecting is for the purposes of making an insect collection this fall to learn how to identify insects to the family and learn about their parts and functions.  This spring, we hope to add to the collections and be ready to do some experiments involving insects out on the plots.


The Telluride group has met a couple of times with other schools involved in monitoring the 25 plots on the San Miguel River.   We have discussed what’s working and not working for the Project and have devised a general plan of attack for this first year.  This winter, the Telluride teachers will be participating in the Cornell Feeder Watch program to get us ready for the spring birding spree and begin learning to identify the local birds through observing basic characteristics and behaviors.  In the spring, we hope to hit it hard and document what birds are in our plots.  Then at the end of May, we are looking forward to presenting all that we have learned and share our projects and information with the other schools in the area.


by Jessica Dumke 

Smithsonian In The Rockies Update #3


The Fellowship between the Conservation and Research Center in Virginia and Jessica Dumke has finished its fourth week out of six weeks.  Jessica, the 7th grade science teacher from Telluride Middle School, participated most recently in a one-day Tree Identification Workshop hosted by the Education Department at CRC.  Twenty-five teachers and other local Virginians attended to practice identifying tree characteristics, using dichotomous keys, and pressing and mounting tree specimens.  Jessica will apply these skills to teaching tree identification in the Telluride schools as part of the Forest Biodiversity Monitoring Project that is to begin this fall.

In collaboration with the CRC and National Museum of Natural History scientists, Jessica has generated several lists of resources for the Telluride region for use in the upcoming Project:  teacher/student web sites, field guides, and local partners working in the Telluride area.  Jessica is also in the process of editing the Project Manual to coincide with Telluride protocols, resources, and activities that will be altered from the current Virginia Manual.

As part of the Fellowship with the Smithsonian Institution, Jessica has participated in two events in Washington D.C.  The first was a behind the scenes tour of the National Zoological Park for all interns working in any of the Smithsonian Institution’s departments.  The highlight was learning about the new baby Asian elephant named Kondula who was born at the Zoo during the Thanksgiving holiday.  He was conceived through artificial insemination, only one of four in captivity to survive through this new procedure. 

The second event was an open house for all interns at the National Museum of Natural History.  Jessica attended a lecture on the 1985 biological survey of Cerra de la Neblina, a tepui in tropical rainforest climate in central Venezuela.  Two more behind the scenes tours consisted of the largest collection of fishes in the world and a tour of the paleobiology department.  There are just as many specimens catalogued and stored as there are specimens on display for the public.  Jessica was able to hold Siberian Mammoth teeth, hair, and even dung! Stay tuned for  two last updates of the CRC Fellowship.

Smithsonian In The Rockies Update #2

                  Nine teachers total attended: 6 from Virginia, 2 from Maryland, and 1 from Colorado. Jessica Dumke was representing the new Telluride/Smithsonian Institution Affiliation. The teachers were out in the field experiencing the 100 square meter forest plot on the CRC site. The teachers navigated through 25 square “quadrats” measuring 20 square meters each within the plot with the help of the Smithsonian scientists and staff . We practiced tree identification, mapping the trees’ positions, and measuring their DBH (diameter breast height). We then entered the data into the Tree Plotter software program, all of which will be applied to the Monitoring program beginning in the Telluride area this fall. We also did mini lessons on GIS (Geographic Information Systems), current ecology procedures and experimentation, and data analysis of biodiversity. We then developed our own experiments in the forest plot and used statistical analysis to validate our hypotheses. Jessica will continue to work on adapting the Forest Biodiversity Monitoring Project to Telluride for the remainder of July at the CRC with the help of the Education Department and the scientists at CRC.

Smithsonian In The Rockies Update #1


The first objective at the Teacher Fellowship was to discuss and lay out the plan for accomplishing several goals in the six-week training.  Newly developed resources will be used this fall at the San Miguel Forest Biodiversity Monitoring Project Workshop August 19-24, 2002, and integration of the project into the area schools will begin for the 2002-2003 school year.  The project’s objectives are to excite students and community members about the ongoing relationship with the Smithsonian Institution, heighten their sense of place and deepen the understanding of geography and the natural environment of Telluride, and to foster a love and concern for preserving biodiversity locally and globally.

Jessica Dumke is the Telluride Middle School science teacher assigned to the Fellowship and is currently working on several projects to bring back to Telluride at the end of July.  The training is being conducted through the Education Department of the Smithsonian Institution’s Conservation and Research Center in Virginia.  She is adding the Colorado Model Content Standards for science and math to the existing Forest Biodiversity Monitoring Project Manual.  It will be a great teaching program for the area schools because most of the science Standards correlate to the Project.   Jessica’s other projects are adding Colorado (San Miguel specific) tree species to the Forest Monitoring Plotter software and revising the existing tree identification manual made by the CRC Education Department.

Check in each week for updates of the Fellowship’s Progress.

The new program is called Smithsonian In the Rockies

I've only been here in VA two days, so this weekend I'll send you the "current updates" of what I'm actually doing at the Conservation and Research Center.

Two links you may want to attach to the article are: (Zoological Park and Conservation Research Center in VA), and (Telluride School District; I can be contacted through this district site)

Intro for info: 

The SNZP-CRC Teacher Fellowship in Front Royal, Virginia is underway. The Fellowship is part of the Smithsonian In The Rockies, a project coming to Telluride to bridge scientists with our community through teachers, students, and local organizations. The teacher training is from June 17 to July 26, 2002 at the SI Zoological Park and Conservation Research Center. Jessica Dumke, the 7th grade life science and math teacher at Telluride Middle School, will be participating in teacher training workshops and developing protocols specific to the Telluride region for the Forest Biodiversity Monitoring Project. She will also enter Telluride flora and fauna data into the Forest Plotter software used by Smithsonian Institute researchers so it can be used by the school district and the community beginning this fall. Smithsonian scientists and staff will visit Telluride August 19-26, 2002 to train local educators and organizations on the latest monitoring techniques, protocols, classroom exercises, and will begin data collection.

Smithsonian in the Rockies

The Telluride Forest Biodiversity Monitoring Project

A Partnership Between

The Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies (SCEMS),

The Smithsonian National Zoological Park’s

Conservation and Research Center (SNZP-CRC)

and the Community of Telluride, Colorado (a Smithsonian Affiliate)

Project Summary:

The relationship between the Smithsonian Institution and the community of Telluride, Colorado, a new member to the Smithsonian Affiliate program, began in October of 2001 when five Smithsonian scholars traveled to Telluride to facilitate an interdisciplinary community workshop that developed an exhibit defining the culture of Telluride.  The mission of the Smithsonian Institution’s Affiliation is expanding with initiatives that will include sending scholars into America’s communities, with the hopes that the Telluride affiliation will serve as a model program for other affiliates.  The goal of the Global Forum/Smithsonian Affiliation in Telluride is to bring together local and Smithsonian partners to create such visible events as Smithsonian expeditions, Smithsonian presentations and forums, Smithsonian scholars in the schools, and Smithsonian exhibits in the Telluride community.

The SNZP-CRC Forest Biodiversity Monitoring Project was initiated in 1998 and is designed to provide teachers and community members with the skills and tools needed to teach the scientific principles of biodiversity monitoring using a local forest, woods or parkland as a living ecosystem laboratory to recognize diversity from a landscape, cultural, and biological perspective.  The curriculum covers ecology, identifying and classifying species, assessing change in forests over time, understanding the impact of human disturbances and understanding how technology, including remote sensing and Geographic Information Systems (GIS), contribute to the study of an ever-changing planet.

There are currently 24 Virginia school partners involved in the monitoring project.  Telluride provides the Smithsonian with an exciting opportunity to adapt the Forest Biodiversity Monitoring Project to accommodate a new eco-region—with a unique heritage.  The entire Telluride community would be involved in identifying the unique geological and biological richness of the region, and also assessing the diversity of their cultural heritage, which impacts on everything from architecture and art, to community perceptions of their ecosystem.  Monitoring sites are identified and surveyed by the adults and students, who will also work with Smithsonian specialists to create exhibits and presentations that showcase “Telluride” in local schools, museums and libraries, and at an annual community conference.


Kelly Rinker, Education Specialist, SNZP-CRC

Jennifer Buff, Education Program Manager, SNZP-CRC

William McShea, Ph.D., Wildlife Ecologist, SNZP-CRC

Melissa Songer, GIS Program Assistant, SNZP-CRC

Norm Bourg, Ecology technician, SNZP-CRC

Stephanie Norby, Executive Director, SCEMS

Lynn-Steven Engelke, Teacher Services Manager, SCEMS

Nana Naisbitt, Smithsonian Research Collaborator, Telluride, CO

Program Objectives:

Teachers and community members will be trained in scientific methodology and field techniques and provided with appropriate materials and supplies during a four-day training course.  Upon completion of the training course, teachers and community members will put these techniques into practice on pre-established monitoring quadrants.  Students, teachers, and community members will then be able to assess their local and global diversity through data collection, hypothesis development and testing.

Another objective of this project is to bridge the gap between teachers and scientists by incorporating a teacher fellowship program into the Forest Biodiversity Monitoring Project.  The teacher fellowship program allows one teacher the unique opportunity to travel to SNZP-CRC in Front Royal, Virginia to work alongside Smithsonian scientists and experience first-hand science and research in a fun and mutually beneficial environment.  As part of the teacher fellowship, the teacher will be responsible for developing resources that will be used during the training course in Telluride.  Projects may include preparing a key to the flora of Telluride and creating a species list for the Forest Plotter software program.  The teacher will also have the opportunity to participate in ongoing teacher training workshops at SNZP-CRC that will provide environmental education resources and skills in tree identification and biodiversity monitoring techniques. 

Beyond 2002, SNZP-CRC is seeking to develop means for expanding the Forest Biodiversity Monitoring Project to cover additional eco-regions through new partnerships with communities, state education departments and Smithsonian Affiliates, including Telluride, Colorado, and the States of Maryland, Pennsylvania and Oregon.  The Smithsonian Institution currently coordinates over 350 biodiversity monitoring sites around the world.

The new SNZP-CRC education resources website,, includes the complete training manual, Forest Plotter data management software, school annual reports, and remote sensing images.  The information is open for review and use by the general public, but its primary function is to allow the participating schools to connect with each other, as well as with similar activities around the globe; utilizing the National Zoo’s CRC as the central hub for training and information sharing.

To Accomplish:

·        Equipping teachers with the knowledge, methodologies and tools to successfully teach conservation and biodiversity based science to Telluride elementary and secondary school students.


  • Providing objective, timely, accurate, accessible and comprehensive information on conservation and biodiversity science that is relevant to needs of teachers and the abilities of students.


  • Promoting the direct involvement of students, across academic disciplines, in scientific investigations, and thus honing their ability to think critically and objectively.


  • Incorporating, for teachers and students alike, across disciplines and into the community, the principles of new technology, critical thinking, applied math, language, writing, and research skills.


  • Developing a network for teachers and educators to exchange information and teaching tips with other alumni of the program.


Project Timeline:



May                                   Three Smithsonian scientists will work with teachers, students, and community members over a two-day conference in Telluride to identify potential biodiversity monitoring quadrant sites, prioritize sites by microhabitat types and/or land availability, and discuss biodiversity concepts and remote sensing in preparation for the Forest Biodiversity Monitoring Training Course to be held in August.


June - August                     A Telluride educator will be selected to participate in a two-month SNZP-CRC Teacher Fellowship in Washington, DC and Front Royal, Virginia.  The teacher fellow will be assigned projects developing resources to be used during the training course in Telluride.  Projects may include preparing a key to the flora of Telluride and creating a species list for the Forest Plotter software program.  They will also participate in ongoing teacher training workshops at SNZP-CRC including a tree identification workshop and a Forest Biodiversity Monitoring Training course.


August                                Smithsonian scientists and staff will conduct a four-day Forest Biodiversity Monitoring Training Course for teachers and community members.  During the workshop, participants will receive training on the latest monitoring techniques, protocols, and classroom exercises, will establish the training plot, and will begin collecting data.


September–December        Students begin hypothesis development, experimental design, and testing based on trends reflected by data from the monitoring plots. 




Spring                                Periodically throughout the spring, teams of Smithsonian scientists and scholars will visit Telluride to discuss research related to a diversity of topics of interest to the community, including landscape, cultural and biological perspectives.  The scientists and scholars will also provide protocols for further research on the monitoring plots and resources for exploring aspects of landscape and cultural diversity. 


June                                   Community members will organize a Science Conference that will give students and community members the opportunity to present their data, research and knowledge of biodiversity in a professional forum.

2.      Bibliography

Berkowitz, A., et al., 2001.  Researchers and Educators Working Together.  Panel presentation to the American Institute for Biological Sciences (AIBS) Annual Meeting.

Colwell, R., 2001.  World Enough, and Time: A Global Investment for the Environment.  Presentation to the American Institute for Biological Sciences (AIBS) Annual Meeting.

Conservation & Research Center, 1997.  Building an Environmental Education Vision for the Conservation & Research Center; 15-16.

Council for Environmental Education, 1992.  Project Wild.  CEE, Houston, TX; 354-360.

Finarelli, M. G., 1998.  GLOBE: A Worldwide Environmental Science and Education Partnership.  Journal of Science Education and Technology, 7; 1.

Glenn, J., 1999.  From the Inside Out:  Professional Development in Environmental Education, EEducator, Spring; 40-44.

Independent Commission on Environmental Education, 1997.  Are We Building Environmental Literacy?  The George C. Marshall Institute, Washington, DC

Kaspar, M., 1999.  Achieving Standards through Environmental Education, EEducator, Spring; 48-51.

Virginia Board of Education, 1995.  Standards of Learning for Virginia Public Schools, Virginia Board of Education, Richmond, VA.

Volk, T. L. and B. McBeth, 1998.  Environmental Literacy in the United States: What Should Be, What Is, Getting from Here to There.  North American Association for Environmental Education, Rock Spring, GA.

World Wildlife Fund, 1999.  Windows on the Wild.  The Acorn Naturalist, Tustin, CA; 360-365