• Costa Rica and Panama field course 2016
  • Cuba field course 2016-17
  • Explore. Research. Conserve.

Welcome to CHANCE

Today, humanity faces this reality – the environment is broken most of which is a result of negative human impact on the health (loss of biodiversity) of our world's ecosystems.

CHANCE (Connecting Humans and Nature through Conservation Experiences) is an accredited environmental education and engaged scholarship program, whose overarching goal is to teach conservation biology and global sustainability at the frontline. To do this, CHANCE creates unique learning environments which immerse its participants, students and teachers, in real-world research and conservation efforts through innovative online curriculum and field courses.

The ultimate goal of CHANCE is to prepare global-minded citizens who understand the importance of restoring and protecting the biodiversity of our planet's ecosystems, and who are willing to address the challenges of our time such as energy, air, food, water, and climate change through their efforts.

Since ecosystems cross national borders, CHANCE strives to view, and to define sustainable answers for, environmental realities from a global perspective.

About CHANCE »
Online Modules. Try one today

Donate To CHANCE

CHANCE is expanding our community conservation efforts and we need your help! As part of our international field courses, we assist with reforestation efforts and turtle rookery preservation efforts. Your donations will go towards purchasing saplings for participants to plant or materials to build turtle nest protective enclosures.

Donate »

CHANCE Newswire

07 April 2016
Dr. McLaughlin standing next to poster at research event
CHANCE Director Helps Organize Undergraduate Research Event at State Capitol

The Pennsylvania Capitol was bustling with undergraduate students eager to share their research with the public and state legislators at the Undergraduate Research at the Capitol Conference on April 5.
Read more »

18 March 2016
Moving Beyond the Autobahn: Germany's New Bike Highways
With the recent opening of a “bike highway,” Germany is taking the lead in Europe by starting to build a network of wide, dedicated bicycle thoroughfares designed to lure increasing numbers of commuters out of their cars and onto two wheels.
Read environment360 report »

18 March 2016
In Mexico, Fish Poachers Push Endangered Porpoises to Brink
China’s lucrative black market for fish parts is threatening the vaquita, the world’s most endangered marine mammal. The porpoises, who live only in the Gulf of California, are getting caught up as bycatch in illegal gill nets and killed.
Read environment360 Report »

18 March 2016
Water droplet and ripples
Surprising Facts From The ‘Value Of Water' Poll
You may have seen the recent poll results announced by the Value of Water Coalition indicating near universal agreement (95 percent) on the need for reliable water systems, along with the somewhat surprising fact that a majority (60 percent) would agree to higher water bills to support them. The real surprise, however, is who is willing to pay the most.
Read Water Online article by Kevin Westerling »

View All Newswire Features »

Field Courses

Cuba 2016 Field Course
December 27, 2016 - January 6, 2017

The newest CHANCE field program, Cuba - Environmental Protection, Resource Management and the Sustainability of a Developing Nation, is an immersive research and conservation journey in western Cuba. It is a collaboration between The Pennsylvania State University, Cuba Marine Research & Conservation Program - a project of the Ocean Foundation, and Center for Marine Research (CIM) of the University of Havana, and is comprised of an online education and an international field course. Participants will evaluate the biodiversity of both terrestrial and marine protected habitats, the exploitation of environmental resources, and the policies and practices needed to enhance both Cuba’s current and future needs to sustain its natural ecosystems. The conservation efforts for this session include working in a sea turtle rookery and removal of invasive species.

Field Course Website »

Costa Rica & Panama advertisementCosta Rica/Panama 2016 Field Course
July 3-17, 2016

We are excited to once again collaborate with the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS)/La Selva and AAMVECONA on this program in Costa Rica and Panama. This international program, Conservation Biology and Sustainability of Select Tropical Ecosystems, is comprised of a spring 2016 online course and a summer 2016 field course. Participants will work side-by-side select field scientists in Costa Rica whose research focus are in areas of tropical rain forest ecology and environmental science in the wake of climate change realities. The conservation efforts for this session include working in a sea turtle rookery and assisting with reforestation efforts in Panama.

Field Course Website »

Costa Rica/Panama 2015 Field Course

Thank you to all our participants and partners for another successful field course! To see more about this trip, visit the field course website. We have posted photos and a video of our experiences.

China 2015 Field Course

Our greatest thanks go to all the partners, professors, researchers and participants for all the hard work and dedication to the success of this field course. Visit the field course website to see a photo album from our trip.


CHANCE Recognition

ATAS logoCHANCE would like to recognize one of its partners, ATAS International Inc., for its support and commitment to the environment.

ATAS International, Inc. is a family-owned business with three generations adding their talents to the mix. ATAS was founded in 1963 by Jacobus P. Bus, an immigrant from the Netherlands. Back then, ATAS was a siding and trim company operating out of Jack’s basement. Today, ATAS has manufacturing facilities for metal roofing, wall panels and accessories in three states; over 100 employees; and, a sister company in the metal coating industry.

ATAS looks after the environment by producing less waste, optimizing materials, using energy-efficient equipment and manufacturing sustainable construction products. Its efforts include reusing cardboard boxes for shipments, donating extra product to worthy causes and finding alternative uses for metal that would otherwise be considered scrap. Of course, all unusable metal is recycled. Skids and fiber cores from coils are re-purposed; and scrap wood is donated to the community. Motion sensors and improved lighting have been incorporated into the plants to make the buildings brighter and more energy efficient. In the office, some brochures are printed on FSC-certified Paper. Styrofoam products are not allowed and everything that can be recycled is. ATAS also believes in avoiding printing and wasting paper. It does this by maintaining a quality website (www.atas.com) where customers can access all technical and product information. As a manufacturer of sustainable items—a transpired solar air heating system called InSpire and a building integrated photovoltaic roof called ATA-Solar—ATAS is proud to extend its green consciousness to all levels of operation.

An extension of ATAS direct manufacturing environmental efforts is to support CHANCE. ATAS does this by donating funds so Pennsylvania teachers and Penn State students can partake in CHANCE embedded programs to receive hands-on environmental education in areas around the world where ecosystems are broken. ATAS believes in CHANCE's overall mission that today, more than ever, our educational system needs to create learning environments that allow students to engage in real-world issues that allow them to analyze, create, and implement solutions to face the challenges of our time such as energy, air, food, water quality, and climate change.

ATAS and the Bus family are fortunate to have employees who work together to create a positive work environment, lead business in the area of metal construction, and exemplify environmental stewardship.

Featured Video

Cuba’s Coral Garden

From The New York Times. By Brent McDonald.

Jardines de la Reina is a wonderland of sharks, giant groupers, schools of colorful fish, and one of the Caribbean’s healthiest reefs.

Read related article from The NY Times

Other CHANCE featured videos »

CHANCE Fellows

10 April 2016
High awards received by CHANCE Fellow
Angela receiving top award

2015 CHANCE Fellow, Angela Spagnoli, won the Gerard A. Hauser Award, Penn State's top honor for undergraduate research, at the Undergraduate Exhibition at Penn State University held on April 7, 2016. Her project, Absorption of Methylene Blue by Zinc Activated Carbon from Cashew Nut Shells, shared her story of discovering a way to remove toxic chemicals from waste water streams around the world. AMAZING conversation work, human spirit, and devotion to bettering our planet.

Our Other Fellows »

Resources For Educators

22 April 2016

Field with wildflowers

Celebrate Earth Day!

In 1970, San Francisco activist John McConnell and Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson separately asked Americans to join in a grassroots demonstration. McConnell chose the spring equinox (March 21, 1970) and Nelson chose April 22. Millions of people participated, and today Earth Day continues to be widely celebrated with events on both dates.

The most common practice of celebration is to plant new trees for Earth Day. Teachers, here are some additional ideas:

  • The Earth Day Network works with tens of thousands of partners in 192 countries to broaden, diversify and mobilize the environmental movement. More than 1 billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world.
    For more information »
  • The National Environmental Education Foundation's 12th annual National Environmental Education Week (EE Week), sponsored by Samsung, encourages and celebrates environmental learning through EE events and projects across the country. EE events are led by formal and informal educators from various disciplines and include participants aged 1-100. This year’s theme is “Greening STEM: Rooted in Math.”
    For more information »
  • The National Park Service turns 100 years old in 2016 and they want everyone to join the party! On 16 days in '16, all National Park Service sites that charge an entrance fee will offer free admission to everyone. National Park week is April 16 – 24 and is a great opportunity to visit a new place or an old favorite. The park service also has a number of resources available to educators at all levels, including virtual park visits. For more information »
  • The Old Farmers Almanac is a website that contains weather forecasts, tide tables, planting charts, astronomical data, recipes, and articles on a number of topics, including gardening, sports, astronomy, and farming. The Almanac also features anecdotes, a section that highlights activities for Earth Day 2106!
    For more information »

31 March 2016
Plan Ahead for Endangered Species Day
Endangered Species Day logoThe 11th Annual International Endangered Species Day will be on May 20, 2016 and offers biology, ecology and other science teachers an ideal opportunity to educate students at all levels about the importance of protecting threatened and endangered plant and animal species. In addition to classroom discussions, there are several ways you and your students can participate in Endangered Species Day, such as:

  • Plan a school-wide Endangered Species Day fair with exhibits.
  • Arrange a special display in the school library or cafeteria.
  • Invite a local expert to speak to the school/class.
  • Work with a community/environmental group on a habitat restoration project.
  • Attend an event at a local zoo, aquarium, botanic garden or other location.

You can plan events earlier in May or on Endangered Species Day itself. Once a specific activity is planned, the class can register it on the Endangered Species Day websites at www.endangeredspeciesday.org.

Be sure to check out the resource materials »

18 March 2016
Science AAAS logo Video Contest Invites You to Share Data Stories
Science is excited to announce its first data visualization video contest, Data Stories, which will be open for submissions between March 7 and April 15, 2016. They are seeking 90-second videos that tell captivating visual stories based upon scientific data. Here is some basic information about the contest:

  • Entry is free and open to everyone
  • Participants can enter in one of three categories: student, professional or corporate
  • Contest winners will be featured on the Science website and will receive a year-long membership to AAAS, including a subscription to Science

For more information »

02 March 2016
Arctic Plant Phenology Learning through Engaged Science Climate Change Workshop
Between July 25-29, 2016, middle and high school teachers will spend a week at Penn State University learning about how scientists identify key phenological stages of plant growth, and how to monitor plant phenological responses to climatic warming using time-lapse cameras and mini-greenhouses. Teachers will participate in science inquiry activities which replicate the practices of scientists and the systems nature of research. With support from the APPLES team, teachers will develop a research project to implement with students in the 2016-2017 academic year, integrating research practices into the research design. The classroom research project will incorporate learning from the workshop, including arctic data collected by Dr. Eric Post and his research team, and utilizing equipment and procedures used by the researchers. This workshop is limited to 15 participants, so register early!
Apply now »

View All Educator Resources »

Resources For Students

22 April 2016
FREE Apps from the National Science Foundation (NSF)

Science360 app is 360 degrees of amazing science images and video--at your finger tips.
The National Science Foundation's (NSF) Science360 app brings you amazing science and engineering images and video from around the globe and a news feed featuring breaking news from NSF-funded institutions. This app is for tablets.
Learn more »

Science360 Radio app lets you take science with you!
Science360 Radio features 100+ radio shows and podcasts from the U.S. and around the world, delivering the latest news, in-depth interviews, and lively discussions about all things science, technology, engineering and math. Science360 Radio is a part of the National Science Foundation's Science360 network.
Learn more »

06 April 2016
Graduate Student Sought to Perform Research on the Future of the Maya Forest
Position available for a PhD student to assist Dr. Micha Rahder with a collaborative multi-sited ethnographic research project, "Maya Forest Futures: Violence, Uncertainty, and Transnational Biodiversity Conservation in Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala." The student will be provided a stipend for three years at $18,000/year to pursue a PhD in Geography & Anthropology at Louisiana State University, and to assist with the project, beginning in fall 2016. The student will be expected to develop their own research agenda within the PhD program, but those with an interest aligned with Dr. Rahder's project (either geographically or thematically) will be given preference. Experience with ethnographic research strongly preferred, Spanish language skills required.

Interested applicants should contact Micha Rahder at mrahder@lsu.edu. This project is funded through the Louisiana Board of Regents - position pending until funding is finalized.
Information about the program »

Brief Description of Project

Maya Forest Futures: Violence, Uncertainty, and Transnational Biodiversity Conservation in Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala

The Maya Forest is the largest remaining tract of forest in Central America, spanning Northern Guatemala, Belize, and Southern Mexico, with protected areas in all three countries. International environmental projects which span this region require complex negotiations across scale: national interests, local land use, trade agreements, and the cross‐border movement of drug traffickers and undocumented migrants must somehow come together with scientific understandings of the landscape, such as the needs of wide‐ranging species or climate model projections. This project will ethnographically examine the influence of regional violence and political instability on scientific knowledge and environmental planning at a transnational scale, focusing on tensions of uncertainty and action in conservation initiatives across the Maya Forest. Transnational conservation projects require clear predictions, plans, and goals for the future, which are often based on scientific and technical tools. But political mistrust and instability can undermine belief in these futures even as they are taken as the basis for action, and scientific knowledge exists in tension with other ways of understanding and predicting the landscape. This project draws together science and technology studies (STS), environmental anthropology, and scholarship on conservation and development. It adds to a growing interdisciplinary focus on futures and prediction, examining how environmental knowledge and action are framed when people express a fundamental disbelief of predictability, or of straightforward relations between action and outcome, in ways that go far beyond typical discourses of scientific “uncertainty”.

View All Student Resources »