CHANCE accepting student applications for summer Costa Rica, Panama program

CHANCE students release baby sea turtles on a beach in Panama during the 2014 CHANCE program. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Penn State Lehigh Valley's CHANCE (Connecting Humans and Nature through Conservation Experiences) program is accepting applications for its Summer 2016 program, which includes travel to Costa Rica and Panama. The course and application submission information can be found on the CHANCE website. The application deadline is March 30.

The 2016 CHANCE Central America program consists of the following courses: Biology 496(A) or 296(B) – Conservation Biology and Sustainability of Select Tropical Ecosystems (online) with Biology 496(B) or 296(C) – A Field Practicum in Costa Rica and Panama. The summer practicum will be from July 3-17.

Taken together, but sequentially, these courses will allow undergraduate and graduate students to earn credits and hours in biology that will prepare them to better understand the challenges of conservation biology and global sustainability. Both courses create unique learning environments, which immerse participants, students and teachers, in real-world research and conservation efforts using inquiry-based strategies and interdisciplinary approaches.

The two week field summer practicum will provide hands-on research experience – chaperoned by Organization of Tropical Studies (OTS), La Selva field-based scientists – which focuses on tropical rain forest ecosystem ecology and biodiversity in wake of global climate change realities. As participants progress through the program they will also learn how scientific research and conservation efforts go hand-in-hand and are key components to solving the global challenges of sustainability. Conservation efforts of this embedded field course include working with nesting sea turtles and hatchlings along with members of a Panamanian NGO, AAMVECONA, which is part of WIDECAST - an international network of biologists, managers, community leaders and educators in more than 40 nations and territories committed to an integrated, regional capacity that ensures the recovery and sustainable management of depleted sea turtle populations worldwide. Participants will also volunteer to replant native trees in abandoned farmland in Panama. Conservation efforts of the embedded field program include working with nesting sea turtles and hatchlings and replanting native trees in abandoned farmland in Panama.

CHANCE was founded in 2004 as a partnership between Penn State and the Pennsylvania Department of Education to train pre-service and in-service high school science teachers in environmental science and conservation biology through research and hands-on experience. Thus far, about 250 educators and 300 undergraduates from around the United States and the world have been trained in the field through the CHANCE China, Costa Rica, and Panama field courses to think like scientists and to carry out real-world research and conservation.

The program strives to connect people to nature through real-world experiences that incorporate scientific concepts, techniques, data and interpretations so they can construct their own understanding of their local landscapes and better effect change that will sustain the planet’s biodiversity.

For more information, contact Jacqueline McLaughlin at

Last Updated February 22, 2016