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2009 CHANCE Idol winners announced

9/8/2009 —

The Penn State Lehigh Valley CHANCE program (Connecting Humans and Nature through Conservation Experiences) has announced the winners of its first ever CHANCE Idol competition.  Claire Kelly, daughter of Kevin and Deirdre Kelly of Stroudsburg, and Carrie Strunk, daughter of Jeffrey and Rebecca Strunk of Tannersville, who attend Pocono Mountain East High School in Monroe County, have claimed the top prize for their video "The Three Rs," and environmental project. The $2,500 check will be presented to the students and their school during an assembly at 9:30 a.m. on September 17, in the Pocono Mountain East High School auditorium.


The CHANCE Idol competition challenged Pennsylvania high school students to showcase their environmental and musical skills by writing their own environmentally-related words to a favorite song; videotaping their group performing the new song; then uploading the video to YouTube for judging.  Entrants also had to submit an environmental project that would use the prize money to make their school community more sustainable.


 "As a Biology teacher and a CHANCE Fellow, I was very excited to see the addition of the CHANCE IDOL contest to the CHANCE website," says Suzanne Croll of Pocono Mountain East High School. "I encouraged all of my students in all of my classes to enter. Many students talked about it, but only Carrie and Claire actually followed through. I am very proud of them and their accomplishment."


During the assembly, the winners will showcase their video to roughly 700 classmates, as well as special guests and dignitaries from the community. In addition, Richard B. Alley, Ph.D, Nobel laureate and Evan Pugh Professor in the Department of Geosciences, and Earth and Environmental Systems Institute at Penn State, will perform live via video teleconference from a research facility in Woodshole, Ma. The $2,500 check will be presented to the students and the school by representatives from sanofi pasteur and ATAS International, Inc., who co-sponsored the competition.


"Helping our youth understand environmental responsibility from experienced teachers is an important role in sustaining our future.  ATAS International, Inc. is proud to support CHANCE and their continuing efforts to increase environmental awareness by our Pennsylvania teachers," says Jim Bus, vice president of ATAS International, Inc.


The winning students are hoping to use the prize money to create a community garden and outdoor theater on a parcel of land at a nearby community park. The garden/theatre will provide the community with a place to gather for special events such as an Earth Day celebration and will also nurture the environment.  


The idea for the competition came from the success of Alley's recent environmentally-focused YouTube music videos, which have been featured in media outlets including The New York Times.  Alley has participated in the CHANCE program as a collaborator with Dr. Jacqueline McLaughlin, associate professor of biology at Penn State Lehigh Valley and developer and director of CHANCE.


CHANCE(Connecting Humans And Nature through Conservation Experiences) is a coordinated effort and partnership between The Pennsylvania State University (PSU) and the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) that addresses the need to enhance the teaching and learning of environmental science and ecology through international field experience and multimedia research modules.


For more information about CHANCE and the contest, visit www.chance.psu.edu.

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