Belize 4-Week Experience - Loop Abroad

Belize 4-Week Experience


Applications are open for Summer 2022!

Spend a whole month in beautiful Belize working with big cats, primates, and supporting tropical coral reef ecology in this special 4-week program.

Combine two of our programs to explore Belize from the rainforest to the Caribbean coast. For one half of the program, you’ll spend one week studying large animal veterinary medicine on local farms, while using your evenings and weekends to discover Belizean culture and natural wonders like waterfalls and caves. The other week will be spent on the coast, where your snorkel-based course will teach you all about coral reef ecology and the marine life off the coast of Belize.

For the other half of the program, you’ll get hands-on experience working with jaguars. Jaguars are the largest big cat species in the Americas and the third largest feline in the world, after tigers and lions. They are the top predators of Belize’s tropical forest, but deforestation has put jaguars under increased threat and they are now a “near threatened” species on the IUCN red list.

By joining us on this program, you’ll get the chance to be a part of important research and learn how research on jaguars is conducted. You’ll also gain an understanding of the anatomy, behavior, and conservation of jaguars from lectures, labs, and field visits to conservation sites. 

The Belizean conservation projects your tuition supports are so grateful for your help, especially after a difficult year without tourist dollars. You’ll be able to learn from local experts while supporting important research and conservation.

When you aren’t working, your trip includes enjoying some of Belize’s beautiful natural sites, including trips to a waterfall, a brilliant blue natural swimming springs, and a Caribbean snorkeling trip. We’ll also have a chance to go cave tubing, explore Maya caves, and explore Belizean culture from dance to delicious tropical fruits and foods!

Highlights

Learn about jaguars and conservation from our experts:

  • Critical jaguar research: learn and practice jaguar research methods, from HotSpotter training to camera traps to coprology
  • Zoo classroom: Tour the Belize Zoo with a Jaguar keeper and learn about jaguar behavior
  • Work on howler monkey release project, including monitoring and data collection
  • Work alongside a large animal vet in a farm-based field course
  • Try Belizean and Maya meals at lunches and dinners
  • Visit the Belize Iguana Project
  • Learn all about large animal medicine in the tropics

Explore the area and get to know Belize!

  • Trek to see spider monkeys in the wild 
  • Spend an overnight deep in the jungle at the Cockscomb Wildlife Sanctuary and Jaguar Preserve
  • Swim in the natural blue swimming springs in the jungle
  • Snorkel in the Caribbean Sea
  • Explore Maya ruins and ancient jaguar cave paintings
  • Cave tubing trip
  • Discover Maya sites and history at Xunantunich temple
  • Explore jungle waterfalls and caves
  • Horseback ride
  • Zipline through the rainforest

Who It’s For

This program is designed for university-aged students who are interested in working professionally with animals or in conservation research. Participants must be at least 18 years old. Most are 18 to 25.

You do not need to currently be in college, have a specific major or degree, or have any veterinary experience for either program. Individuals of any nationality may apply.

Each group will have a maximum of 12 students to ensure an engaging learning environment. 

Dates Open for Application

Summer 2022

June 11 – July 9, 2022

 apply now

This program session is covered by Loop Abroad’s COVID-19 100% Tuition Refund Policy. If a program is canceled by Loop Abroad due to COVID-19, we will refund 100% of any program tuition you have paid (including the deposit).

The dates above indicate the day you must arrive in Belize City and depart from Belize City. We will provide you with detailed information on when to arrive in and depart Belize. Your program includes airport transfer to and from the airport in Belize.

*Please note that there is no group flight for this program. Students will be picked up and dropped off at Belize City airport.  Loop Abroad reserves the right to cancel any program at any time; in case of such cancellation by Loop Abroad, all tuition payments will be returned in full.

Why Two Programs is Better than One

Our Belize 4-Week Experience combines two popular programs: Belize Large Animal Medicine and Marine Conservation and Belize Big Cats and Primates Research.

Spending a full month in Belize allows students to maximize their time abroad and save money doing it. Not only is supervision and transportation between programs provided for a seamless transition, but Loop is discounting each program by $100 for a total of $200 off tuition costs. Plus, you’ll get FREE college credit for both programs (normally $499) and will only pay for airfare once!

Tuition

Tuition is $7,900 $7,700 – SAVE $200 with this 2-program combo versus two single programs.

Interest-free payment plans are available. Current college students may be able to use federal financial aid toward their tuition. Your space is not held until your $1,000 deposit (credited toward tuition) is paid.

Tuition is all-inclusive except for airfare. Tuition does not include medical insurance (the policy we suggest is under $25), passport, snacks, and souvenirs.

International airfare is not included. There is no group flight for this program. We will provide you information on when to arrive in and depart from Belize City so that you can book your flight. Your tuition includes transportation from the Belize City airport to your program location at the start of your program, and back to the Belize City airport at the end. All in-country transportation is provided.

Please note: A laptop is required for the HotSpotter software workshop and to work on research assignments during the program. (If you are comfortable typing research work on a tablet, you can use a tablet instead, but we suggest a laptop.)

Hours and Credit

You can receive 3 credits from Iowa Wesleyan University as well as 3 credits from Sacred Heart College in Cayo, Belize for this program at no additional cost to you. Loop Abroad can also assist you in working to get credit directly from your school.

This program is created with students who may want to apply to vet school in mind. For your application to vet school, the program provides approximately the following hours:

Veterinary Hours: 40 hours

Animal Experience Hours: 25 hours

Research Hours: 80 hours

Service Hours: 80 hours

Students can calculate their own record of hours for their VMCAS or other applications.

The strongest veterinary recommendation letter is from a vet who has known and worked with you for at least a year. However, you will have a chance to build a relationship with your Loop Abroad teaching vet who may be able to write you a recommendation if you impress them with your performance and are able to build on your experience after your program.

You will receive a certificate for 80 service hours upon program completion. You will be supervised by a teaching veterinarian in your classroom lectures, clinic time, labs, and animal activities – you can calculate your vet hours based on your actual experience, but we estimate 60 veterinary hours.

Housing and Meals

Program housing is simple, rustic-style housing with shared rooms, mosquito nets or screened windows, cold water, and shared bathrooms. You will share rooms with other Loop Abroad students by gender. Wifi is available in common areas, and there is a workspace, dining area, and small library area on site. Meals may be prepared on-site or provided from local restaurants – all meals are included in tuition. You will have staff on-site 24/7.

Program housing is “Gold Standard” for Belize, which means the accommodation has been certified by the Government of Belize to follow the most stringent COVID-19 safety protocols.

COVID and Safety

All participants will need to be vaccinated against COVID-19. All participants will adhere to the Loop Abroad COVID policy which includes providing a negative COVID test within 2-3 days prior to travel, wearing a mask when flying and when interacting outside of your “travel pod” (your group and staff), daily symptom report, testing if symptoms are present, and testing before return to the US. Loop Abroad had ZERO COVID cases in 2021!

If a program is canceled by Loop Abroad due to COVID-19, we offer a full refund of all tuition paid, including the deposit.

Apply Now

Locations

Belize is a small country in Central America, on the Caribbean coast. Most visitors to Belize come for Maya ruins, rainforest activities and exploration, visiting beaches, or snorkeling and diving. Over half of the country of Belize is rainforest, and the Belize Barrier Reef is the largest reef system in the Northern Hemisphere.

With a population of only 390,000 people, the entire country of Belize has approximately half the population of the city of Boston. Loop Abroad partnered with CELA Belize in 2019 and our full-time staff in Belize, with both Americans and Belizeans, can help make sure your group sees the absolute best that Belize has to offer on a safe and fun adventure.

Belize City (the capital of Belize, where you’ll fly to), is only a 2 hour, 20 minute flight from Miami, but you will feel a world away from home. Belize requires no vaccines or visas for visitors from the US, and uses the US dollar as one of its official currencies.

Itinerary

This itinerary is subject to change, but should give you a good overall program feel.

Belize is a small, Central American country on the Caribbean Sea, just a 2-hour flight from Miami. Over fifty percent of Belize is covered by rainforest. This English-speaking country is home to a mix of cultures and offers fascinating opportunities to explore Maya sites, as well as caves, waterfalls, and beautiful beaches.

During the first week of your program, you will learn about large animal veterinary medicine in the tropics, working with a veterinarian on local farms to learn about and help to care for animals such as horses, cows, pigs, sheep, and goats. Lectures will supplement field course activities so that you can understand the veterinary science behind each hands-on activity. Your program provides community veterinary funding, as it funds the veterinary visits and the supplies used, and also offers you insight into farming and large animal care practice and issues in tropical developing countries.

During this week and over the weekend, you’ll have a chance to explore aspects of Belizean culture and its beautiful natural environment, including:

  • Trying Belizean and Maya meals at lunches and dinners
  • Visiting the Belize Iguana Project
  • Discovering Maya architecture and history at Xunantunich temple
  • Exploring jungle waterfalls and caves
  • Horseback riding
  • Ziplining through the rainforest

For the second week, you’ll live at the beach on the Caribbean Sea to participate in a snorkel-based marine course. The Belize Barrier Reef is a 300km section of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. It’s the second-largest coral reef system in the world after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. It’s estimated that only ten percent of the species in the reef have been discovered.

The focus of this snorkel-based course is to learn the key biotic and abiotic components of a coral reef system and how they interact. You will spend lots of time in the water each day, so be ready! The course will help students to understand the biological and ecological history of the reef system and try to predict its future under varied management strategies. Lectures will help students to understand possible coral reef conservation strategies globally.

During the second half of this program, you’ll get a close-up chance to learn about and participate in jaguar research in Belize. By being on-site with jaguar experts, you will have the chance to explore many different facets of jaguar research, from a field setting to a lab setting.

Please note that while you will see jaguars at the Belize zoo, this program site does not have captive jaguars on-site. It is a research facility, and most of your work pertaining to jaguars will be field-based tracking or lab-based analysis of data. Your program includes veterinary labs such as necropsies and microscope labs. 

In addition to your hard work researching jaguars, you will have opportunities throughout the program to explore more of Belize and get to see the beautiful nature for which Belize is known. We will mix these cultural and fun outings into the week as our work takes us near beautiful locations, and we will also have a mid-program weekend of activities to take a break from work and explore.

Your program is based at the Tropical Education Center, where you’ll spend most evenings and mealtimes but also have many of your classes, as well as lab and research time. Some of your evening time will be spent working on academic research and research writing that assists the conservation project in continuing their work – this is excellent career training and experience for positions related to animal research or zoos! The Tropical Education Center also has nature trails and an on-site swimming pool to relax after a hard day’s work.

Days will be busy and most days will be a combination of field work (visiting different sites in the area), lectures and labs, and exploration activities. 

Some of the lecture and lab topics include:

  • Understanding the ecology of the Maya Forest Corridor
  • Jaguar Behavior and Ecology
  • Learning to use camera traps and using them in the field
  • Identifying and conserving the flora and fauna of Belize
  • Lesson in data collection through telemetry
  • Coprology: prey and parasite identification through jaguar/puma feces collection and study
  • Methods in primatology
  • Guest speakers from different local perspectives in conservation
  • Monitor howler monkeys after release into the wild and collect data

Some of the field activities and excursions include:

  • Practice tracking jaguars in the forest
  • A special night tour of the Belize Zoo
  • Bird banding practice
  • Jaguar activities at the Belize Zoo
  • Learning from forest department officers about conservation management of jaguars in Belize
  • Practicing data collection on spider and howler monkeys at the zoo
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Some of the cultural and adventure activities include:

  • Maya Painted Cave visit to see jaguar paintings and Maya artifacts
  • Overnight visit to Cockscomb Wildlife Sanctuary and Jaguar Preserve with waterfall visit and night tour
  • Visiting Belizean markets and tasting Belize foods, spices, fruits, and hot sauces!
  • Beautiful beach day and snorkeling in the Caribbean sea
  • Understanding howler monkey anatomy, behavior, and conservation
  • Tubing through a cave
  • Jungle hike to see spider monkeys in the wild

Scholarships

 

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.

Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship:

The Gilman Scholarship could fund $5000 of your tuition and the next deadline is March 1 at 11:59pm 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 to 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

Loop Abroad is offering one FULL TUITION scholarship to cover one online program of your choice starting January 2022 or later. Applications are due December 1, 2021.

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:
In order to apply, you must complete the following three steps:

  1. Submit the application to 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 (instagram.com/loopabroad) 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.

girl 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 in order 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.)

Details:
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.

Scholarship is non-transferable. If student cannot attend, 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:

The 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 receiving 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 open 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 Scholarship:

The 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 of 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:

The Fund for Education Abroad (FEA) invests in promising students with financial need who wish to study abroad. Potential applicants who meet our eligibility requirements may participate on 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 and can be applied for programs that run for at least 28 days.

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 Summer 2022 and Fall 2022 will open November 16, 2021 and be due by January 20, 2022. Students may review the scholarship and apply here.

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

InternationalStudent.com Travel Video Contest:

The InternationalStudent.com 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.

"This was a great learning experience! We were able to spend a lot of time with the vets and they were constantly answering questions and sharing their knowledge. Strongly recommend this trip!"

Andrea G., Thailand College Veterinary Service 2016

Wright State University, Dayton, OH

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