Belize Crocodile & Manatee Research Fellowship Online

perform critical research to protect crocodiles & manatees…

from anywhere on Earth 2020 Finalist Logo


  • 100 research hours for VMCAS vet school applications
  • 100% Online for Summer 2022 (Limited to 20 Fellows)
  • Collect and analyze data as a critical step to protect “Placencia Lagoon” as a wildlife sanctuary in Placencia, Belize
  • Have a first-hand impact on the protection of wild crocodiles, manatees, and more through your research
  • Gain valuable research experience in drone surveys, camera traps, parasite analysis, and literature reviews

*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 Crocodile Research Coalition (CRC) in and around the Placencia Lagoon in southern Belize. This is a one-of-kind online research fellowship available from anywhere. A woman holding a Manatee in the water

With the Crocodile Research Coalition (CRC), students will join the team to collect and analyze data, a critical step in order to protect the area as a Wildlife Sanctuary.  Although the CRC’s primary study species are crocodiles, the CRC takes a more holistic approach to conservation that includes research of various species (including manatees) within crocodile habitat and involving various community members to create local stewardship of the lagoon.

The fellowship will start with an orientation block session where we will cover the methodology of wildlife research, crocodile ecology and biology, parasitology (focusing on tropical diseases), and translational ecology. CRC Director, Dr. Marisa Tellez, will also discuss the challenges of wildlife conservation and management referencing her experience with local, national, and international regulatory bodies.  After learning basic theories of wildlife research and conservation, you will be introduced to specific projects and begin analyzing data collected by CRC staff.

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

Man launching a drone to fly up

Drone surveys: drones will be flown in systematic grid patterns over marine habitat identified as prime manatee and crocodile areas. You will count and identify manatees and crocodiles in the lagoon to create a baseline population count and begin to distinguish individuals. These surveys are conducted on the ground by Next Gen Croc, a CRC program which trains youth in research techniques.

Camera traps: the CRC has secured 25 acres of land with access to another 325 acres on the western side of the Placencia Lagoon in an area known as Flower Camp.  This area has an abundance of wildlife including jaguars, tapirs, raptors, and parrots, as well as prime habitat for crocodile nesting and manatee breeding.  Motion sensor camera traps are an effective method for collecting data on elusive species with minimal impact on the study subject.  During crocodile nesting season, cameras will be set up to observe rarely observed behaviors.  Cameras will also be used to collect images of elusive terrestrial species, such as jaguars. Reviewing these images, fellows will assess species presence/absence, determine body condition, and identify individuals.

Parasite seen in the specimen

Parasite analysis: parasites are key biological indicators of the health of the environment and the population. For those interested in wildlife disease, environmental parasitology, or veterinary science, the identification of parasites is essential to monitor in regards to impact from human development or climate change. Students will be given 1-2 examples of parasites that have been collected from snails, fish, turtles, or crocodiles and utilize guides and lecture notes to identify the parasites (depending on the samples, parasites can be identified to family, genus or species).

Literature Review: you will compile resources from peer-reviewed journals as part of the CRC research.  Topics will be assigned according to current grants, presentations, and publications.  You will research the topic, compile resources and complete a paper discussing your findings.

Your impact as a research fellow… Man holding on the drone controller

Data reviewed will be critical in determining the populations of threatened species around the Placencia Lagoon.  Working with local and national governments, we intend to use the data collected to provide supplemental data to the Belize Forest Department to establish the Placencia Lagoon as a Wildlife Sanctuary, protecting this critical habitat from further development!

Further your studies…

Other topics presented and discussed will include: species identification, basic statistical analysis, veterinary care of crocodiles (lecture by visiting vet), nocturnal eyeshine surveys (depending on current COVID-19 curfew restrictions), wildlife rescue calls, necropsy, science communication, and captive wildlife training methods.  

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 or veterinary medicine is required.

Dates, Meeting Times, And Deadlines

Sat, July 23: 11am-1pm ET
Sun, July 24: 11am-1pm ET
Required research team Zoom calls
Every Mon and Wed 6-7pm ET
Sat, Sep 3: 11am-1pm ET
Office hours
Thursdays 11am-2pm ET by appointment

Research Fellowship Tuition

Wild Manatee Drone Capture
Wild Manatee Drone Capture

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
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.

Enroll Now



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 1 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 round of applications due March 1 will cover in-person programs or internships that start between May 1, 2022, and April 30, 2023. This cycle encompasses Summer 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2023, and Academic Year 2022-2023 programs.

Loop Abroad Dr. Erica Ward Scholarship

Focused elephant imageLoop Abroad is offering one FULL TUITION scholarship to cover one online program of your choice. Applications for 2023 are now open and are due December 1, 2022, for your choice of an online program in 2023. 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 need to be enrolled in an online course to apply. You can apply for the scholarship first and make your online course selection after you receive a decision about the scholarship. (Note: if you make any payments toward tuition and later receive the scholarship, your payments will be refunded up to the value of one online program of your choice, not including an online semester.) 

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).

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.

Announcement of Award: The scholarship winner will be notified by January 15th.

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 online program of their choice. If the chosen winner has already made payments toward his or her Loop Abroad tuition, those payments will be refunded in full.

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.


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 next round of applications for the Gilman scholarship opens in January 2022. The deadline will be in March. At that time, you can apply for scholarships to use on any program starting between May 1, 2022, and April 30, 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.

Applications for the 2021-2022 school year are closed. 

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. Travel Video Contest:

Smiling woman holding small wildcatThe 2020 Travel Video Contest gives students the opportunity to win a scholarship by sending in an original video discussing:

  • How COVID-19 has impacted your international education or cultural exchange experience abroad
  • Your ideal international education or cultural exchange after Covid-19

There are several prizes available ranging from $250 to $4,000.

In order to apply, students must create a 4-minute video and submit an online entry form. Tips and tricks for filming a video entry can be found here. Applicants must be 18 years of age or older.

Submissions are due by October 13, 2021. Apply here.

NAFSA scholarships

NAFSA is the world’s largest nonprofit association dedicated to international education and they have a long list of scholarship databases (including scholarships for pre-vet programs) that might help make your program possible!

"It's been really informative and wonderful. I literally have pages and pages of notes. So every time I work at my vet clinic, I'm bombarding them with crocodile facts and they always think it's so cool what I'm learning."

Edie L., Crocodile and Manatee Research Fellowship Online 2020

Binghamton University in Syracuse, NY