• Costa Rica field course 2017
  • Great American Cleanup event photo
  • Cuba field course 2017
  • Participants with rakes and shovels

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 include international field courses and online research modules that immerse its participants, students and teachers, in real-world research and conservation efforts.

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

Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to one of our CHANCE Funds. We can now accept online donations through the support of Penn State University’s secure online forms. Visit our Donate page to learn more.

Donate Today »

CHANCE Newswire

01 May 2017
Landscape photo from Yosemite National Park
Photo credit: Edward Stojakovic
Effects of Protected Area Downsizing on Habitat Fragmentation in Yosemite National Park (USA), 1864 – 2014
Protected area downgrading, downsizing, and degazettement (PADDD) has been documented worldwide, but its impacts on biodiversity are poorly understood. To fill this knowledge gap, we reviewed historical documents to identify legal changes that altered the boundaries of Yosemite National Park.
Read Ecology and Society »

28 April 2017
State Capitol
Eleven Penn State Students to Present Research to PA Legislators on April 25
Undergraduate students representing seven of Penn State’s campuses will present their research to legislators at the 15th annual Undergraduate Research at the Capitol–Pennsylvania (URC-PA) conference, taking place at the Capitol Complex in Harrisburg on April 25. The Penn State participants will join with other undergraduate students from across the Commonwealth to network with peers and engage with members of the Pennsylvania Senate, House of Representatives, and their staff.
Read Penn State News »

26 April 2017
Hurricane Patricia, 2015, from NASA
Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center via Flickr

Fingerprints of Climate Change are Detectable in Wild Weather Around the Globe
Storms, droughts, heat waves: everyone wants to know if these extreme weather events are evidence of climate change. A new analysis finds that the answer is, increasingly, yes.
Read Anthropocene »

21 April 2017
An Ecoregion-Based Approach to Protecting Half the Terrestrial Realm
An world-wide plan (Global Deal for Narure) to protect of 50% of the terrestrial biosphere to address the species-extinction crisis and conserve a global ecological heritage for future generations is presented. Using a map of Earth's 846 terrestrial ecoregions, the authors show that 98 ecoregions (12%) exceed Half Protected; 313 ecoregions (37%) fall short of Half Protected but have sufficient unaltered habitat remaining to reach the target; and 207 ecoregions (24%) are in peril, where an average of only 4% of natural habitat remains.
Read BioScience article »

15 Apr 2017
Turning an Ocean of Plastic into Fuel
Sailboat captain James E. Holm and polymer scientist Swaminathan Ramesh are developing a mobile reactor that could transform plastic into diesel fuel. The technology could reduce plastic waste on land and in the ocean, and generate a cleaner, potentially cheaper fuel.
Read Anthropocene article »

09 Apr 2017
Great American Cleanup logo Great American Cleanup of PA
CHANCE is joining the conservation efforts in Pennsylvania to cleanup roadside garbage. Our cleanup event will be held April 22, from 9am-12pm. Our goal is to tidy up a small stretch of Route 309 in Center Valley, PA. Registration required to participate.

More Info & To Register

04 Apr 2017
Timber being trucked through the northern Laos province of Louang Namtha on its way to the Chinese border.
Photo Credit: HOANG DINH NAM/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
The Dark Legacy of China’s Drive for Global Resources
As China pursues a startling array of energy, mining, logging, agricultural, and infrastructure projects on virtually every continent, it is having an unprecedented environmental impact on the planet.
Read Yale Environment 360 »

22 March 2017
Graph of global average temperature anomaly from 1850 to 2017
Climate Breaks Multiple Records in 2016, with Global Impacts
The year 2016 made history, with a record global temperature, exceptionally low sea ice, and unabated sea level rise and ocean heat, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Extreme weather and climate conditions have continued into 2017.
Read WHO Press Release »

View All Newswire Features »



Field Courses

Tree frog with tadpole
Costa Rica 2017 Field Course
May 19-28, 2017

The Conservation and Sustainability of the Tropical Rainforest with a Field Practicum in Costa Rica program promises both a Course-based Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) in ecology and a Service Learning experience in conservation.

Applications are no longer being accepted.

Field Course Website »

Images from CubaCuba 2017 Field Course
July 7-15, 2017

Exciting news! With the changing nature of the US travel restrictions, we ARE NOW ABLE to visit Cuba this summer, July 7-15, 2017. We are generating the new itinerary and will quickly make the information available.

This CHANCE field program, Environmental Protection, Conservation, and the Sustainability of Cuban Ecosystems with a Field Practicum in Cuba, is an immersive research and conservation journey in western Cuba. It is comprised of online education and an international field course. Participants will research 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.

Application deadline EXTENDED to April 30, 2017!

Field Course Website »

Collage of kangaroo, sea turtle and rainforest photos
Australia 2018 Field Course
Summer 2018

Our first international field course partnership with James Cook University is titled: Conservation Biology and Global Citizenship - A Field Course in Select Natural World Heritage Sites of Australia. Field course website will be available end of 2017. Thank you for your patience while we coordinate our itinerary with our partners!


Featured Sponsor

Sanofi Pasteur logo

With gratitude, CHANCE would like to recognize Sanofi Pasteur for its generous support of environmental education through the Penn State CHANCE program.

Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi, provides more than 1 billion doses of vaccine each year, making it possible to immunize more than 500 million people across the globe. A world leader in the vaccine industry, Sanofi Pasteur produces a portfolio of high quality vaccines that matches its areas of expertise and meets public health demand. The company's heritage, to create vaccines that protect life, dates back more than a century. Sanofi Pasteur is the largest company entirely dedicated to vaccines. Every day, the company invests more than EUR 1 million in research and development.

Sanofi Pasteur’s recent charitable donation to the CHANCE Field Course Fund has helped defray the cost for undergraduate students and teachers from across Pennsylvania to travel to Costa Rica and Cuba this summer to participate in the 2017 programs -- Conservation and Sustainability of the Tropical Rainforest with a Field Practicum in Costa Rica and Environmental Protection, Conservation, and the Sustainability of Cuban Ecosystems with a Field Practicum in Cuba. Assessment data (soon to be published) has shown that CHANCE field research and conservation service-oriented activities benefit our teachers and students: by enhancing their understanding of the field of conservation biology, valuing biodiversity, inciting motivation to partake in future actions as informed citizens, and much more.

Featured Video

May 2017

The Power of Community.
How Cuba Survived Peak Oil (sub español)

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990, Cuba's economy went into a tailspin. With imports of oil cut by more than half – and food by 80 percent – people were desperate. This film tells of the hardships and struggles as well as the community and creativity of the Cuban people during this difficult time. Cubans share how they transitioned from a highly mechanized, industrial agricultural system to one using organic methods of farming and local, urban gardens. It is an unusual look into the Cuban culture during this economic crisis, which they call "The Special Period." The film opens with a short history of Peak Oil, a term for the time in our history when world oil production will reach its all-time peak and begin to decline forever. Cuba, the only country that has faced such a crisis – the massive reduction of fossil fuels – is an example of options and hope.

Other CHANCE featured videos »


CHANCE Fellows

28 February 2017 JoAnna receiving graduation accolades
CHANCE Fellow Pursuing a Masters in Life Sciences

JoAnna Hofstaedter, CHANCE 2014 Fellow, earned a Bachelors of Science degree in Secondary Education, Biological Sciences from The Pennsylvania State University in 2016. She was selected as the program marshal for the spring commencement ceremony. After graduation, JoAnna took some time off to spend the summer exploring the wilderness of several U.S. national parks (though nothing could ever compare to the stunning biodiversity of Costa Rica), before beginning her career as a high school biology teacher in southeastern PA. Wherever possible, JoAnna aims to incorporate the experiential learning model into her lesson planning. Whether it is through sharing stories and photographs of her own experiences or planning field trips and research investigations for her students, she hopes these authentic learning experiences will instill a sense of biophilia in all of her students. In the fall, JoAnna plans to continue to her studies in the life sciences as she pursues a Masters degree from Clemson University. Go Joanna!!

Our Other Fellows »


Resources For Educators

11 May 2017
EPA logoU.S. EPA Exploring Fuel, Economy and the Environment
In this lesson for 9-12 graders, students learn to read fuel economy and environment labels, then apply their understanding to compare and contrast the labels for various vehicles and fuel types. The lesson plan includes background information, procedures, teacher and student worksheets, discussion questions, assessment, extensions, and related links. The lessons can help students become more informed citizens and helps teach them real-world skills and knowledge.
EPA Environmental Topic »

11 May 2017
NOAA and Marine Sanctuaries website header
NOAA Encyclopedia of the National Marine Sanctuaries
This online guide has photos, streaming video, and biological information for more than 100 marine species found in each of 14 marine sanctuaries nationwide, including sites in the Channel Islands, Florida Keys, Monterey Bay, Olympic Coast, and Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Read a short description of each sanctuary, then click on tabs to learn more about the plants and animals found there. The site also features a short video about the National Marine Sanctuary Program.
NOAA Encyclopedia website »

21 April 2017
Photographer outdoors
DCNR Think Outside….An Invitation to Pennsylvania’s Outdoor Classrooms

Pennsylvania’s state parks and forests are great classrooms. They are wonderful places to teach and learn, and should be a part of every students’ educational experience. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Think Outside program is designed to expand the learning landscape by inviting colleges and universities to provide opportunities for place-based educational experiences in the commonwealth’s 121 state parks and 2.2 million acres of state forests. Think Outside is intended to get college students outdoors and work towards a more sustainable Pennsylvania in the process. Students and professors are invited to visit the state parks and forests for any learning experience, whether it be a single student, a group of students, or an entire class. Across all academic disciplines, students and professors are encouraged to cultivate new ideas and build stronger connections with the outdoors and our natural resources.

DCNR logoAs part of this, Think Outside invites students to develop proposals or conduct research that would help advance these goals. Projects could include: Having a professor take a class to a state park each semester and conduct a multi-semester analysis of soil, water, air, flora, or fauna; Going out to a forest and writing, painting or photographing what students see, hear and experience; Research opportunities throughout almost every park and forest. Interested students and/or professors should fill out a Think Outside application, which will be reviewed by DCNR staff.

For more information and to apply for Think Outside »

21 April 2017
AP Biology Teacher Academy

Registration Open For NABT/BSCS AP BIOLOGY TEACHER Academies
Registration is now open for all 2017 NABT / BSCS AP Biology Teacher Academies. The summer academies are based on a program developed by NABT, BSCS, and HHMI’s BioInteractive to support a new generation of leaders in biology education. The academy program was developed for AP Biology Teachers, but all biology teachers are welcome to attend, including those teaching at both the high school and undergraduate level. Space is filling up fast!
Program details »

View All Educator Resources »


Resources For Students

04 May 2017
Wildlands Conservancy logo
Wildlands Conservancy Seasonal Opportunities!
Eager to explore a career in the natural world? Check out the Wildlands Conservancy current seasonal opportunities! You’ll gain leadership experience and practical skills – all while working in the outdoors. We have openings for:

  • Naturalist
  • Naturalist Assistant
  • Bike & Boat Adventure Guide
  • Stewardship Crew

Learn more and apply »

04 April 2017

Science, Not Silence
The March for Science is an international movement, led by organizers distributed around the globe. This movement is taking place because of the simultaneous realization by thousands of people who value science in their lives that staying silent is no longer an option.

There are marches being planned across the United States and internationally.

JOIN THE MARCH ON APRIL 22, 2017, FOR A HISTORIC MARCH FOR SCIENCE AROUND THE WORLD.

Register for a march »

Find a march near you »

15 March 2017
Monkey peering through tree branches and leaves
Advanced Primatology Scholarship
This is a scholarship opportunity in conjunction with the Alliance for a Sustainable Amazon (ASA) that will support project proposals to investigate the demography, spatial ecology, and/or feeding ecology of brown titi monkeys (Callicebus brunneus). The exact nature of the proposed research project is open, but should be in line with the ASA’s mission of promoting conservation. Please note that at this stage the trapping or handling of vertebrate species at our field site is not authorized; proposals, therefore, should be for observational research only.

The successful applicant will have the support of the ASA’s academic faculty and staff, resident naturalists, and a number of volunteers and internship program participants that may serve as field assistants. The scholarship will cover food and lodging for a period of up to four months (15 May – 15 September, 2017) at Finca Las Piedras, the ASA’s field site in the southeastern Peruvian Amazon. The scholarship does not cover the cost of travel to Puerto Maldonado, or the cost of medical/travel insurance.

Get more information and apply »

View All Student Resources »