Rio Mora NWR offers space and equipment for experiential learning in ecology and the biological sciences to middle school and high school students. Visits to the ranch could be short-term one-day studies or long-term on-going projects.
Students first learn introductory concepts and techniques, such as finding and mapping the locations of a given species of animal or plant. Such exercises introduce students to radio-telemetry, animal tracks and sign, automatic cameras, compasses, maps, global positioning systems (GPS), and geographic information systems (GIS).
Students embarking on long-term studies can begin a scientific investigation with guidance from staff ecologists of the Denver Zoological Foundation. These long-term studies will allow students to gain familiarity with data collection and analysis and the critique and retesting of ideas and investigations.
Practical exercises and projects at these later steps could include measures of grazing impact, monitoring run-off and sedimentation of the Mora River, monitoring water quality, floral and faunal surveys, and participation in habitat restoration projects.
By the end of high school, students interested in pursuing biology at a university level should have a strong grasp of scale and dynamics in ecological interactions.