Belize Jaguar & Howler Monkey Research Fellowship

Perform Critical Research To Protect Jaguars And Howler Monkeys…

From Anywhere On Earth!


Highlights 2020 Finalist Logo

  • 100% online (Limited to 20 fellow spots)
  • Earn 100 research hours for VMCAS vet school applications
  • Have a direct impact on the conservation of howler monkeys and jaguars in Belize
  • Work alongside primatologist Dr. Kayla Hartwell to perform critical research necessary for the reintroduction of endangered black howler monkeys to Runaway Creek Nature Reserve
  • Gain valuable research experience in wildlife conservation, primate behavior, camera trap surveys, wildlife monitoring techniques, vegetation sampling, and conducting literature reviews for research proposals

*Fellowship is open to ALL. No pre-requisites or student status is required.

Loop Abroad, in collaboration with CELA-Belize, invites students to be part of wildlife conservation and research conducted by the Foundation for Wildlife Conservation (FWC) in and around the Runaway Creek Nature Reserve in central Belize. This is a one-of-kind online research fellowship available from anywhere.

Fellowship Description:Jaguar captured by a camera

Join the research team from the Foundation for Wildlife Conservation (FWC) to study jaguars and howler monkeys at Runaway Creek Nature Reserve in Belize. FWC is a small non-profit organization that owns and manages Runaway Creek. The reserve is over 6,000 acres of tropical forest that serves as a critical piece of the Maya Forest Corridor in Central Belize. This unique online fellowship will encompass two ongoing projects at Runaway Creek and will require the students to work with long-term data on howler monkeys and jaguars.

Man holding a camera taking some picture and a woman do some recordingWork alongside primatologist Dr. Kayla Hartwell to gather information and analyze data as a critical step toward the reintroduction of endangered black howler monkeys to Runaway Creek Nature Reserve.  Following a destructive hurricane in 2010, howler monkeys slowly disappeared from the reserve. To help bring howler monkeys back to Runaway Creek and increase their genetic diversity within the corridor, FWC will release ex-captive howler monkeys who have gone through a successful rehabilitation process and are ready for survival in the wild. 

In addition to participating in the study of howler monkeys, students will gain valuable experience conducting research on jaguars. They will help the FWC team compile and organize over 10 years of camera trap images on jaguars and other wildlife (eg. tapirs, pumas, ocelots, coatis) at Runaway Creek using a specialized research software program.  Research fellows will learn how to individually identify jaguars and compile a complete species list for the reserve. This information will be critical to the management of Runaway Creek within the Maya Forest Corridor.

Jaguar captured by a cameraThrough a combination of lectures, assignments, and one-on-one instruction, students will be introduced to conservation issues within the Maya Forest Corridor, primate behavior, wildlife monitoring and research techniques, the importance of vegetation sampling, and other ongoing research by the FWC team. 

This fellowship is virtual, based on twice-weekly lectures and meetings led by the FWC staff. The curriculum is based on current and past data collected at Runaway Creek Nature Reserve. Following the initial introductory block session, meeting times will be twice a week for 1-2 hours as well as virtual office hours for one-on-one time with FWC staff.

Your primary projects will include (100 Research Hours required):

Howler monkeys spotted on treesHowler monkey sighting and behavior data: You will help analyze data on the howler monkeys at Runaway Creek to determine when howler numbers started to decline following the hurricane. You will learn data collection methods for studying primates in the wild and will learn simple data analysis tools while also calculating howler activity budgets and diet profiles. 

Vegetation sampling: Studying the vegetation prior to releasing the howler monkeys is critical to a successful reintroduction so that the habitat is deemed suitable with enough food resources to support monkeys. You will learn how to collect and analyze vegetation data and fruit phenology to determine howler food availability within the areas selected for release.

Site plan shown to a group of menCamera trap data: For over ten years, FWC has used a series of motion sensor camera traps within the 6,000-acre reserve to monitor and study wild animals. Camera traps are an effective method for collecting data on elusive species with minimal impact on the animals. You will help the FWC team organize and review camera trap images to compile a complete species list of animals at Runaway Creek. You will also learn how to individually identify jaguars and analyze camera trap photos of jaguars to determine relative abundance, site fidelity, population density, and record observations of unique behaviors.

Literature Review: You will compile articles from peer-reviewed journals as part of FWC’s research projects.  Topics will include research methodology and data analysis using camera traps, wildlife rehabilitation and reintroduction of howler monkeys and other neotropical primates, wildlife corridors, and conservation issues with the development of roads. You will research a topic, compile information from multiple resources, and complete a paper discussing your findings. The information you gather in your literature review will be useful to FWC for future research proposals, presentations, publications, and grant applications.

Howler Monkeys hanging on treesGoals and Learning Objectives:

  • Learn about the behavior, ecology, and conservation status of primates in Belize
  • Analyze past data on howler monkey sightings at Runaway Creek to determine critical information on their decline following a major hurricane
  • Analyze vegetation data and fruit phenology to determine howler food availability at the release areas
  • Learn how to individually identify jaguars and analyze camera trap photos of jaguars to determine relative abundance, site fidelity, population density, and record observations of unique behaviors
  • Organize and review ten years of camera trap data to compile a species list of animals at Runaway Creek

Your impact as a research fellow…

Your work as a research fellow with FWC will have a direct impact on the conservation of howler monkeys and jaguars in Belize. The information you gather during your fellowship will be critical to the successful reintroduction of endangered black howler monkeys. Furthermore, you will have a first-hand impact on the management and protection of jaguars and other threatened species within the Maya Forest Corridor. 

Further your studies…

Baird's tapir captured by a cameraOther topics presented and discussed will include wildlife rehabilitation, tapir research at Runaway Creek, species identification, and basic statistical analysis.

Students may apply from anywhere in the world. You must be fluent in English and have internet fast enough for video calls (minimum 1Mbps) and a computer with video playback, microphone, and sound. No experience with zoos, research, or veterinary medicine is required.

Dates, Meeting Times, And Deadlines

Next dates have not yet been announced – to be notified when this program opens, please email [email protected]

Research Fellowship Tuition

Since many students have had difficulty finding shadowing or volunteer experiences due to COVID-19, we are heavily discounting tuition to help students meet their goals.

SessionFull TuitionDiscounted Tuition
Spring/Summer 2022$2000$1495 

University credit is not offered with this internship. There are no additional readings, technology subscriptions, or course materials you have to purchase to participate in this research fellowship.

The Gilman Scholarship could fund $5000 of your tuition. See the official website and read about Loop Abroad students who have received this scholarship. If you are a US citizen receiving a Pell Grant and currently enrolled in college or university, we encourage you to apply for this scholarship. The deadline for the next round of applications for the Gilman scholarship is March 1, 2022.



There are lots of ways to help fund your online and travel programs with Loop Abroad, and we are here to help!

Scholarships are a terrific way to cover some or all of your tuition for a Loop Abroad program. When you look for scholarships for pre-vet programs, you need to look at all your options!

Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship:

The Gilman Scholarship could fund $5000 of your tuition and the next deadline is March 9 at 11:59 pm Pacific Time! 

The Gilman Scholarship was designed to help students of limited financial means have the opportunity to study abroad – online or in-person. Nearly a third of applicants are awarded the scholarship! This is a great opportunity to help cover your tuition.

Students can receive up to $5,000 for travel or virtual programs. The scholarship can be applied to any of our online programs, to our semester programs, or one of our 2-week programs.

Along with their application, students must submit two essays, the Statement of Purpose Essay, and the Community Impact Essay. Students must also upload their transcripts (unofficial or official). For more information on the application guidelines, please click here.

See the official website and read about Loop Abroad students who have received this scholarship. If you are a US citizen receiving a Pell Grant and currently enrolled in college or university, we encourage you to apply for this scholarship. The March 2023 Deadline application will open in mid-January 2023 for applicants whose in-person programs or internships start between May 1, 2023 to April 30, 2024. This cycle encompasses Summer 2023, Fall 2023, Academic Year 2023-2024, and Spring 2024 programs or internships. The application deadline is Thursday, March 9, 2023 at 11:59pm Pacific Time, and the advisor certification deadline is Thursday, March 16, 2023.

Loop Abroad Dr. Erica Ward Scholarship

Focused elephant imageLoop Abroad is offering one FULL TUITION scholarship to cover one travel program (up to 2 weeks) of your choice.  Applications for 2023 are now CLOSED. Applications for 2024 will re-open in January 2024. We’re proud to add this to the list of scholarships for pre-vet programs.

Who can apply: This scholarship is open to all students age 18 and over. You do not have to be a US Citizen. You do not have to be currently in school. 

You do not have to complete an application to Loop Abroad in order to be selected for the scholarship. The scholarship winner must be able to complete the Loop Abroad enrollment paperwork, requiring a doctor’s signature, and must meet all safety requirements of program enrollment.

Note: if you have already applied to Loop Abroad and been accepted, you can still apply for this scholarship. If you have made any payments toward tuition and later receive the scholarship, your payments will be refunded.

Criteria for selecting the scholarship recipient: 

We will consider financial need, commitment to conservation and/or animal science, academic performance, and ability to be a positive team member as factors in our decision. We are not looking for the applicant with the highest grades or the most animal hours. We are not looking for the applicant with the saddest story. We are looking for a student who embodies Loop Abroad’s values of teamwork, commitment to a cause, and hard work, and for a student who would not be able to otherwise afford Loop Abroad tuition (whether because of household income or recent change in circumstances).

Scholarship details:

This scholarship covers tuition to one Loop Abroad program with a duration of 1 to 2 weeks in the summer of 2023. It is not transferable to other individuals or future semesters. It does not include airfare, travel or medical insurance, passport, college credit fees (optional), visa (if required), or any optional incidentals during your program. Please understand that a full tuition scholarship does not make travel completely free: passport, airfare, and other expenses depend on the program location.

Once a scholarship winner is chosen, the winner will need to complete full application paperwork for Loop Abroad. The winner must then also complete the enrollment paperwork, which includes waiver forms and a medical form signed by a doctor indicating that you are able to safely participate in a travel program.

The scholarship winner agrees that Loop Abroad may publicize the awarding of the scholarship, including the recipient’s information such as name and current university. The scholarship winner will be subject to all regular rules of participating in a Loop Abroad program.

How to apply:
To apply, you must complete the following three steps:

  1. Apply for the Loop Abroad Dr. Erica Ward Scholarship here. The application requires a copy of your proof of household income (such as last year’s tax return).
  2. Follow @LoopAbroad on Instagram ( and make an Instagram post about the program you’re hoping to join, tagging @loopabroad and #loopabroad in the post. You do not need to mention that you have applied for a scholarship.

Dr. Erica Ward holding a black dog and an elephant at the background and an elephant dogWhy is it called the Erica Ward Scholarship? Dr. Erica Ward is our Academic Director. We believe that she embodies the values we are seeking in our scholarship applicants: she is passionate, dedicated, hard-working, and driven to make the world a better place. Dr. Ward consistently strives to find ways that Loop Abroad can support projects in need and help its students and alumni have fulfilling academic opportunities. We have decided to name this scholarship after her to honor her continued commitment to her values and purpose. (PS – She isn’t dead. Please don’t write your essay about honoring her legacy. She is very much alive and still working here. If you are a finalist for the scholarship, she will read your essay.)

The scholarship will be credited toward tuition for the winning student toward the Loop Abroad program of their choice.

The scholarship is non-transferable. If the student cannot attend, the scholarship will be void – it is not a cash prize and cannot be paid as such. Applicants must be over the age of 18. Citizens and residents of any country may apply.

ALL PARTICIPANTS IN LOOP ABROAD TRAVEL PROGRAMS MUST BE VACCINATED AGAINST COVID-19. All participants are subject to other COVID requirements, such as providing a negative COVID test taken within the 2 days prior to travel. If you are unable to meet these requirements, you may use your scholarship toward a Loop Abroad online program of your choice within the 2023 calendar year.

Loop Abroad reserves the right not to grant a travel scholarship for the 2023 year if there are no qualified applicants who have applied by the deadline.


The Gilman-McCain Scholarship:

Young lady holding a blue parrotThe Gilman-McCain Scholarship is a congressionally funded initiative of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State and named after the late senator John S. McCain from Arizona.

This scholarship is open to US citizen undergraduate students who are child dependents of active duty service members and receive any type of Title IV federal financial aid. Students can receive awards of up to $5,000 for 2+ weeks of international travel or online programs. The scholarship can be applied to any of our online programs,  semester programs, or 2-week travel programs.

The deadline for this scholarship is March 9, 2023.

Freeman-Asia Scholarships:

Smiling woman hanging on a ropeThe Freeman Awards for Study in Asia (Freeman-ASIA) provides scholarships for U.S. undergraduate students with demonstrated financial need to study abroad in East or Southeast Asia. This scholarship is open to both US citizens and permanent residents who are undergraduate students at a two-year or four-year college or university.

Recipients can receive up to $3,000 in awards for summer programs. This scholarship can be applied to our Thailand programs for 2+ weeks.

In order to apply, students must fill out an online application. Read the scholarship instructions here and the eligibility requirements here.

All student applications for Academic Year 2023-2024, including the following terms: Summer 2023, Fall 2023, Academic Year 2023-2024, Spring 2024, and Calendar Year 2024, are expected to open in February 2023.

The Fund for Education Abroad:

Loop Abroad scholarships student checking heartbeat of the tigerThe Fund for Education Abroad (FEA) invests in promising students with financial needs who wish to study abroad. Potential applicants who meet our eligibility requirements may participate in any international education program that meets their academic objectives.

This scholarship is open to US citizens or permanent residents currently enrolled as an undergraduate at a college or university in the US. Scholarships range from $1,250 – $10,000.

Along with their application, students must submit a financial aid form (filled out by the financial aid office at their school), one recommendation letter, and a copy of their unofficial transcript.

Applications for Spring 2023 (programs from January- May) are due by September 15, 2022 at 12pm (noon) EST. Students may review the scholarship and application instructions here.

Scholarships of note that you can apply for through the Fund for Education Abroad include:

  • The Hiliary Echo Douglas Memorial Scholarship – for students studying abroad in Southeast Asia
  • Boston Area Study Abroad Association Scholarship – for students with schools in Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, or Connecticut.
  • Rainbow Scholarship – For LGBTQI students that participate in a high-quality, rigorous education abroad program.
  • Malú Alvarez Global Access Scholarship- Five scholarships for semester-long programs to be awarded for study in any country.
  • NAFSA Tamara H. Bryant Memorial Scholarship– These funds are awarded to African-American undergraduate students in the United States who hope to study abroad.
  • Gateway International Group Education Abroad Scholarship- Scholarship awarded to those who are first-generation college students, or those whose home or college of study is in Kentucky.

Smiling woman holding small wildcat Aging Matters Scholarship continues to bring more awareness to the key issues we face as an aging population. For the 8th consecutive year, we will be awarding an annual college scholarship to an individual that best demonstrates to us why “Aging Matters” to them. A $1500 scholarship will be given annually to a selected college student that currently cares for an aging loved one, works within the senior community, or intends to pursue a career that will have an impact on the elder population. Any existing student (or incoming freshman), in good academic standing, at a 2 or 4-year accredited college can apply for this scholarship. The recipient will demonstrate a unique and admirable understanding and desire to show us that “Aging Matters” to them.

All applicants can get more information and apply online here. Applications are due May 15, 2023.

First Trip offers scholarships for students who are studying abroad for the first time. At the time of writing, Thailand, Costa Rica, and Belize programs would be eligible for these $1,500 scholarships. Find out more and apply at Applications are rolling and suggested to be submitted at least 3 months before your program. They also have funding available for passports ($130) as well as some other supplemental awards.