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Amazing Kids! of the Month

Amazing Kids! is proud to highlight the Amazing Kids! of the Month!

Each month, we showcase kids who are accomplishing amazing things.  We hope that by telling their special stories, we will inspire other kids to accomplish their own amazing achievements. 

Amazing Kids! of the Month for July, 2005: 
Amazing Chance Ruder, Animal Ambassador, Environmentalist, Naturalist, Educator and More; San Antonio, Texas
Amazing Animal Ambassador Chance Ruder, age 12
  Amazing Chance Ruder, age 12
Quotes of the Month

Amazing Chance Ruder, Apprentice Falconer
Amazing Chance, Animal Ambassador and former Apprentice Falconer

"The third bird [autopsied at the rehabilitation center for birds of prey where Chance volunteered when he was just 6 years old] was a barred owl...

"I felt really bad about how such a great bird was killed because of people not caring about it needing a safe place to live.
"That was when it all hit me like SLAM! I get it now. If you want to have animals on this Earth, then you better care about where they live because it's getting hard for them to survive around the humans. I said I was really sorry to the owl in my spirit, and I promised it that I would be his voice. I would try to talk some reason into the humans...sort of like a translator for the bird. For all of the animals. That's what I'm going to do somehow.. And that's mostly why I make videos and speak at events and teach at SeaWorld."

Chance Ruder, age 12
Animal Ambassador, Environmentalist, Naturalist,
Junior Falconer, Educator, and more...
Excerpted from the new book
EcoKids by Dan Chiras, Ph.D.

Summer is now in full swing (here in the Northern Hemisphere) and it's a great time to be outdoors enjoying the beauty of Nature!  Our July Amazing Kids! of the Month story, featuring amazing Chance Ruder, a 12 year old Animal Ambassador, Environmentalist, Naturalist and more, is a fitting story to ponder as you spend time outside this summer, appreciating all that nature has to offer.

From an early age, Chance has tirelessly dedicated himself to helping animals and the environment.  Read his story below and who knows? Perhaps Chance will inspire you to join him in his cause so that all of us, animals and people alike, will have a healthy environment in which to live, now and for the generations that follow.  And be sure to check out the Related Links section at the end of the story, to learn more about how you can get involved helping save our Earth and its animals!

And don't forget, if you, or a young person (or persons!) you know, has an amazing project you are involved in, or a special skill, talent or ability you want to tell the world about, be sure to let Amazing Kids! know about it!  Teachers are invited to nominate their entire classroom and the amazing projects they are working on too!  Simply complete our new online nomination form for the Amazing Kid! of the Month award, or email us! 

Table of Contents 

Amazing Chance Ruder

Related Links  

Amazing Chance Ruder
Amazing Chance Ruder, age 12
Amazing Chance holding a snake

Meet Amazing Chance Ruder, age 12.  Since an early age, Chance has pursued his passion for helping animals and the environment.  At 6, he was an apprentice to a master falconer, volunteered at a rehabilitation center for injured birds of prey, and wrote a book about the experience! 

It was at during his apprenticeship that he discovered his very special purpose in life:  helping animals by educating people about the importance of taking care of the environment, so that the animals' habitats (or places they lived) would not be destroyed.  Everyone needs a home, including animals, birds and plants and people.  If their homes are destroyed, they will not survive. 

Though he was only 6, Chance decided to change his name from "Brooks" to Chance, because he felt he was a "chance" to help animals survive. (You can read about Chance's work at age 6 in our Amazing Kids! of the Month archive on our website, as Chance first appeared as an "Amazing Kid" in our June 1999 Amazing Kids! of the Month story!)

Chance thinks of himself as a "translator" for those injured and endangered animals who don't have a human voice or a way of telling humans about their plight.  Chance hopes he can work to find other young "translators" like himself, so they can work together at the large task in front of them. 

He says:

"There are other translators out there who don't know what to do. And if we could just find each other and join forces, we could be world leaders."

Chance hopes to become an official "Animal Ambassador" someday soon, appearing on television and traveling the globe so that he can reach the greatest number of people with his message.

Chance Ruder, age 12
Amazing Chance Ruder, age 12

Some of Chance's projects and adventures have included:

  • Starting a new "Pennies for Raptors" campaign at his elementary school in Texas when he was just 7 and in 3rd grade. He raised over $800.00 to sponsor the care of a falcon that was used in educational demonstrations by the raptor facility. 
  • Broadening his wildlife studies to include ocean mammals and beginning a mentorship at age 7 at Seaworld of Texas. He came up with his own proposal which they readily accepted:  he would teach that first summer, then be mentored during the school year. Chance ended up teaching groups of 100-150 kids, (3 times on Wednesdays!) through the whole summer. He taught at Seaworld 5 years in a row, from age 7 to 12. 
  • In between teaching and learning at SeaWorld, Chance was on his own adventures as well!  He and his brother Josh formed their own video production company "Spyverius Productions" and went to work producing videos about animals that they would give to family and friends. At first they focused on animals that could be found abundantly in Texas... bugs, snakes, bats, birds of prey, amphibians. But because of the influences of having a marine park nearby, the boys started wanting to seek out other kinds of animals!  The first animal Chance asked to travel to tape was sea lions and seals in their natural habitat. His parents managed to take them to Catalina Island two summers in a row to tape the sealions off the coast there. While they were there, they met the director of education of the Catalina Conservancy, who sat them down and talked to them about island ecosystems. Wow! There was a lot to learn! (It was after meeting her that Chance developed his first "Sherlock Holmes Mystery" talk, which is a presentation he gives to schools everywhere in San Antonio. )
  • After documenting the sea lions, Chance and his family headed to Florida to add manatees onto the tape because kids often times get seals, sea lions and manatees mixed up. Because Manatees are endangered, he thought it would be a good addition to the tape. The challenges of being 11 and having this great idea of course, is money. Kids often times have big dreams but a major cash problem!  Fortunately, he won a contest from National Geographic and became a "habitat hero" who had ideas about saving habitat. He was sent on an all expense paid trip to Florida!  Perfect! Manatees live in Florida rivers!
  • Chance and Josh have had many other adventures videotaping wildlife! They have taped animals in the desert of Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico, they have looked for bears among the Sequoia National Forest, peregrine falcons at Morro Bay, and everything from big horned sheep, eagles and fox in Colorado! This month, Josh is in North Carolina looking at giant sea tortoises, and Chance is preparing to head out to Montana to learn about horses from the Olzewski family... a family with 4 kids including 13 year old Megan, a major animal enthusiast, who has decided to support the boys in their work! (Chance and Josh asked Megan to be a regional representative of Spyverius Productions. She researches animals and learns and submits ideas for videos.)


Amazing Chance Observing a Frog

Chance's work breaks down into approximately 8 categories:

1. Education... visiting groups of kids and talking talking talking about their (kids') responsibility toward the earth. (Sometimes Chance will direct his attention towards specific groups of adults in the form of speaking at a civic club meeting, and or talking to an entire city council about issues that come before them that he feels will impact the future of wildlife and children!) He has also taught conservation at conventions, on the radio and even on television morning shows. Most of his efforts however, are directed toward kids.

2. Demonstrations... He actually takes a small "zoo" to a classroom or an event and speaks while Josh is his "animal wrangler."  He does dozens of demonstrations every school year.

3. Personal Study... by this I mean that he spends time on his own attending camps, following experts around, reading books, watching videos and talking to people who can help him develop his own base of knowledge and understanding of how the animal world works. There is a ranch out in the Hill Country run by a man named J. David Bamberger. Mr. Bamberger and his wife Margaret have Chance out to their 5,500 acre nature laboratory to study native grasses, aquatic biology, water, rocks, endangered species, flora and a lot more.

4. studying a population of female Sharks to determine how their feeding habits change during their cycle, or canvasing hundreds of children to find out what they know about certain conservation issues. These projects take months to do, but the process of collecting data and learning how to analyze it and document it on graphs and spreadsheets has been invaluable. Much of his research ends up being material he uses for presentations he gives to adult audiences.

5. Fundraising for education or rescue groups... Chance learns about an animal or a species or even a group of children who are struggling to learn about wildlife...and he gets down and dirty and starts raising money. Usually he involves other kids, like in his pennies for raptors campaign. Sometimes he deliberately enters a contest that the winners get to choose a non-profit group to whom a check will be written (He did this with the Land's End clothing Company, which named him as one of their "Born Heroes." As a result, a check for $5,000.00 was written to the Salado Creek Foundation which is a local foundation dedicated to perserving the last wild waterway in San Antonio, and at the same time, educates inner city kids who live or go to school near the creek about the wonders of this natural resource!)

6. Film making... this is where much time is spent writing scripts and tossing around ideas about animals that he thinks he might be able to feature in a video. To put a  tape together takes months from the point of coming up with the idea, finding a way to get to that animal, and really figuring out what kids need to know about that animal and it's situation. Then Josh starts editing. The edits can take months!

7. Animal Rescue... When people figure out who Chance is and where he lives, they start knocking on his family's front door holding boxes!  All kinds of boxes! One day recently, 6 teenagers showed up at the door holding nothing other than a baby screech owl! And just 2 hours before that, a neighbor showed up with a dove. This summer Chance has been talking about doing a tape about how "Not every animal needs rescuing." In both of those situations, he had to take the people back to where they found the animals and help them set up a safe way to put it back!  ( What Chance has learned is that these birds are "branchers." They are about to start flying. They aren't hurt. They aren't starved. They are healthy and their parents are WAY more stressed that the offspring got picked up and taken away, than they were that the chick was on the ground.) Sometimes however, the animal is truly injured. That's where Chance's cool "amazing" dad steps in.  His dad helps him assess what is going on AND driving him to the proper rescue facility which would be equipped for handling such an injury. Their family gets porcupines, tortoises, turtles, birds, frogs, snakes, spiders, owls, name it, they have gotten it!
8. Global Work...Chance had the opportunity to meet and spend 3 days with Dr. Jane Goodall about a year and a half ago. Since then, his concept of conservation has expanded to include the issue of Peace. She taught him that humans will never really be able to devote themselves to animal issues and habitat conservation if their families, communities and countries are being torn apart by war and fighting. It makes sense... who has time to plant a tree or care about habitat destruction if they are simply trying to survive? So Chance has embraced a project that Dr. Jane asked him to be involved with called International Peace Day Doves. Basically it involves getting your friends together, building a giant dove and flying it on the United Nations' International Day of Peace which is on September 21st every year. Last year he had over 40 people attend and fly 4 giant doves! At the end of every tape now, he encourages kids to have their own Peace Day Event and fly their own doves. He directs kids to for downloading directions on how to build the doves.
Another project he has just begun to embrace is a bike project in Africa. Through an intern who was working with Dr. Jane and is now working in the peace Corp, Chance learned about a project for a village in Ghana. For $50 dollars, they can purchase a bike, get the tools to maintain it and attend an 8 hour bike maintenence course. Of course, the particular village in Ghana that Stephen Hamm is working with, cannot afford the bikes..and their children do not attend the school that is too far to walk. So Chance is helping to raise $50 dollar contributions through word of mouth so that the kids can get to school.
At the same time, he has just embraced an organization in Namibia Africa called R.E.S.T. which stands for Rare and Endangered Species Trust. REST does a lot of work with all kinds of animals, but Chance's interest is in the Cape Griffon Vulture they are trying to save. There are only 11 left in the whole country. The organization needs support financially, but Chance is looking for a way to impact the area educationally as well. The bird has been declining because of the poisons farmers are using. Chance's family is planning a trip with Kim Hoskins who is a friend of Chance's, a raptor handler, a teacher, a veterinary technician and a wildlife advocate, to visit the region next summer where we will have education materials, video tapes and possibly a live demonstration that he can conduct in villages throughout the area. In the meantime, he is working on a fundraising campaign to keep the group going this year.

Brothers Chance and Josh Ruder
Chance and his brother Josh at SeaWorld before teaching
a class about animals and the environment to kids

Recognition and other Activities:

As you can imagine, Chance has received countless awards for all of his amazing dedication and hard work!  He has received recognition from, and caught the attention of, wildlife experts around the world, from major wildlife organizations, as well people working in the environmental arena.

Recently, Chance was interviewed by
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., in his new radio show.  Mr. Kennedy is an activist for the environment and has followed Chance's work and encourages him.

Chance appears in a new book called EcoKids by Dan Chiras Ph.D. Dan is a highly respected, prolific environmental writer, lecturer and consultant.  The book features kids like Chance who are doing amazing work helping save the environment.  It is written for parents, teaching them ways of instilling "eco-values" (ecological values) in their kids.

Chance is a member of AZAD,  American Zoos and Aquariums (Docents) organization. The docents are the volunteer teachers who are at AZA registered zoos and aquariums around the country.  Chance has been a member for 3 years and when he was 9 he submitted an abstract to speak at their national convention. It was accepted, and he addressed the educators of AZAD from across the country for 3 days! The talk can be found on the website (under the 2002 papers). But it's all about Chance's thoughts about educating kids about endangered species. His paper is called "When We Grow Up."

Chance's Honors Texas history teacher required her students to enter the Texas History Fair. So Chance wrote a Sherlock Holmes mystery about the Bamberger Ranch and J. David Bamberger as a historical figure in Texas. He wrote it in order to educate the educators who would be judging and viewing the skit at his own school. He and his partner performed it for the Texas History Fair as required. He won the school competiton. Then the district. Then the region and made it into the top 5 at the State level in Austin! According to Chance's amazing mom Angela, "Every adult who saw it said 'I have never heard of such a thing...' because he taught them that even in a dry landscape, a person can draw water from the rocks if they know the geology and flora of the region. It was awesome!"

Last week there was a nice article about Chance in the San Antonio Express News.. here's the link if you want to read it:

In September, Chance will be in National Geographic Kids magazine again, in an update article for their 30th anniversary.
Current Projects:

1. Spyverius Productions has been contacted to shoot a new Bat video for Texas Parks and Wildlife education. The 18 copies will be placed in teaching trunks that any school in Texas can borrow and use in the classroom.

2. Fundraising for R.E.S.T. and the Bike project

3. Bat Research: He has been invited to help document a new study about Mexican Freetail Bats. The person he'll be working with is named Barbara French and she's a bat rehabilitator in Austin. She has discovered that bats may have a primitive form of grammar, and wants the boys to help her document it.

Bat Thermal Population Study: Chance will be going out to the Bamberger Ranch ( to the world's only chiroptorium which is a man made bat cave designed for viewing wild bats. He will be documenting a researcher and his graduate students as they do a thermal study to figure out how many bats and pups are populating this amazing cave structure. This will be very exciting!

5. Chance recently conclued a heavy teaching schedule where he gave 28 presentations in 5 different formats!!!  His students included graduate students from Texas University, Gifted students from all of the middle school GT programs from 12 schools, 5th graders from schools across the county, radio and television spots and a nature camp. He has also been invited to speak in Dallas and Salt Lake City in August.

To top it all off, after 3 1/2 years of intense study, both Chance and his brother Josh recently earned their Black Belts in Karate!   Way to go, guys!

Chance posing with a goose
Chance posing with a goose

Amazing Kids!
is proud to highlight the amazing work you've accomplished, Chance!  We'll be rooting for you as you one day step onstage, and in front of the camera, as the world's new official "Animal Ambassador!"  The future of the Earth certainly looks bright in the hands of such amazing young people like you, Chance.  Thank you for all that you do!

Back to Table of Contents

Related Links:

Article about Chance in the San Antonio Express News:

Read about Chance's amazing work at age 6 in our June 1999 Amazing Kids! of the Month story at:  A t-shirt company is in California. The owner does a lot of education for kids and provided Chance with awesome conservation t-shirts which he often wears while teaching
Naturalist Jane Goodall's website: - a great website for kids to explore. Look for the section about Peace Doves.
Bamberger Ranch: - This is the ranch where Chance does his studying. They are always open to bringing school groups and tours to the ranch. All funds support the Bamberger foundation which in turn pays for research and education. Kids can read about the chiroptorium there too.
SeaWorld's website: - a place where kids can research all kinds of animals and sign up for camps
National Geographic Website: - where kids can look up all sorts of info about the natural world around them
Texas Bat Working Group: - has all the bat info about Texas bats and projects
The website for R.E.S.T. -  - "Rare and Endangered Species Trust"

Website of Dan Chiras, Ph.D., author of EcoKids book in which Chance appears: 

Chance's website:
  Chance's personal website, just for fun: - Chance built this website for himself and his friends. (Be sure to check out the info on the International Peace Day project.)

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A Special Message from Amazing Kids! for all you kids:

It's no secret...every person has an "amazing-ness" inside of them, just waiting to be discovered.  (Sometimes we just need a little help in finding out what that "amazing-ness" is!) 

If you are doing some amazing things too, we want to hear about it!  Send us your stories about your amazing accomplishments, so we can tell the world just how amazing you are!  We are always looking for new stories.  And don't be shy!  We'd love to hear from you!

Here's an idea you might want to try:


If you know someone who needs a little encouragement, why not tell them what you think is special about them?  Maybe you can be the one to help them uncover their own special talents! 

Amazing Kids! is looking for teens to be Amazing Teen Volunteers and Ambassadors . If you'd like to join Amazing Kids! in helping to spread the word, please email us at:


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