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Think Outside Program

Pennsylvania’s state parks and forests make great classrooms to teach, learn, and explore, greatly enhancing college students’ educational experiences.

DCNR's Think Outside program is designed to expand the learning landscape by inviting colleges and universities to provide opportunities for place-based, hands-on educational experiences in the commonwealth’s 124 state parks and 2.2 million acres of state forests.

Students and professors are invited to visit state parks and forests for any learning experience, whether it be a single student, a group of students, or an entire class.

Types of Learning Experiences at State Parks and Forests

Pennsylvania state parks and forests offer a variety of opportunities that can be tied into coursework, including:

  • Performing multi-semester analysis of soil, water, air, flora, or fauna
  • Writing, painting, or photographing outdoor experiences
  • Conducting research projects
  • Researching and developing proposals for energy efficiency and sustainability

Opportunities to Share Program Work

Students and professors are encouraged to share their projects, activities, research, or proposals with DCNR.

Project proposals will be considered for application/implementation, and students may be invited to meet with agency staff to discuss their work in greater detail.

Plan to Visit

Interested students and/or professors should register using the Think Outside Program Application Form (PDF) and email it to DCNR if they plant to engage in experiential learning.

If you are interested in pursuing research-based projects, please apply at DCNR’s Research Database Application.

Applications will be reviewed by DCNR staff for approval. Research projects may require up to 4-6 weeks for approval.

DCNR will work with applicants on obtaining additional approvals.

DCNR’s Think Outside program was developed in partnership with the Pennsylvania Parks & Forests Foundation and Pennsylvania Environmental Resource Consortium.