The Sloane's froglet is so sensitive to changes in the environment, teachers at Thurgoona Public School noticed numbers drop when new regulations for playgrounds were introduced in the early 2000s.
Speaking at a National Science Week event, Charles Sturt University lecturer John Rafferty explained that 'soft-fall' material - sawdust-based mulch 30 centimetres deep - impacted their habitat.
"The teachers who have been there for a long time remember when they stopped appearing," he said.
"That (the mulch) sucked up all the water and really changed the hydrology.
"The school is now working on a program called 'the return of the froglet' and it's excellent seeing kids in year one listening for frog calls.
"If we get some most moist and grassy areas back, we're confident they will return.
"We're going to have to have more houses and estates, but we can do it in a much more friendly way then we have in the past."
Climate change, feral species, the Chytrid fungus and housing development are among the biggest threats to native frogs.
Dr Rafferty, addressing the 50 people at the Chiltern Seniors Citizen Hall, said populations across the board had declined.
"Most people my age can remember seeing frogs and tadpoles in ponds everywhere," he said.
"They play a really really important role in what we would technically call ecosystem services; they transfer a lot of nutrients in and out of the water.
"If there's lots of different frogs signing, they're telling us really good things bout the environment.
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"If we start hearing less calls and less varieties of calls, it tells us the local ecosystem is in trouble."
The largest remaining populations of Sloane's froglet in NSW are in Corowa and the Thurgoona-Wirlinga areas, with many community groups using FrogID to monitor their presence.
July and August are when people are most likely to hear them call.
Dr Rafferty said a lot of work was happening to help the vulnerable species and agreed with an audience member that development planning had improved to retain or introduce wetland areas.
"I'd like to think that's partly because the general science literacy in the community is growing," he said.
"Train yourself to listen for one particular frog call and then add to that - I can pick up 10 or 12, but my frog expert friends laugh at that.
"Science isn't for a selected few, it's for everyone."
'Frogs and Why We Need them' was made possible by the Indigo Shire and the Royal Society of Victoria.
Also as part of National Science Week, there is a stargazing night on Wednesday from 6.30pm at the Yackandandah Library, and other activities at the Beechworth and Rutherglen libraries.