Begin Main Content Area

Think Outside Program

Pennsylvania’s state parks and forests make great classrooms to teach and learn which can greatly enhance 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 121 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.

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

Types of Learning Experiences at State Parks and Forests

Our 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

In addition, parks’ staff from across the state sent in ideas for projects and compiled them into a Think Outside projects list (PDF). This list should not limit you, as we encourage all ideas to be submitted to the Think Outside program.

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.

How to Apply

Interested students and/or professors should fill out an application (PDF) and email it to DCNR.

Applications will be reviewed by DCNR staff for approval. Certain research projects may require additional approvals from the Bureau of State Parks or Bureau of Forestry. DCNR will work with applicants on obtaining additional approvals.