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. Help researchers understand and protect these beautiful big cats on the “Belize Big Cats and Primates Research” program in tropical Belize.
This program will give you a chance to explore and understand the research of jaguars as well as of Black Howler Monkeys, the largest monkey in Belize and one of the largest in the Americas.
Your instructor is Dr. Kayla Hartwell, the Research Director of Runaway Creek in Belize. Dr. Kayla holds a Ph.D. from the University of Calgary and focuses her research on primates and jaguars in Belize.
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!
Learn about jaguars and conservation from our experts:
Explore the area and get to know Belize!
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.
All undergraduate, pre-veterinary and veterinary students are welcome. Individuals of any nationality may apply.
Each group will have a maximum of 12 students to ensure an engaging learning environment.
Summer 2022 – This program is currently full and is waitlist only
June 25 – July 9, 2022 **waitlist only
July 9 – July 23, 2022**waitlist only
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.
This program is a full adventure on its own, but it can easily be combined easily with our large animal and marine program in Belize, our wildlife rescue clinic program in Costa Rica, or our sea turtle program in Costa Rica with minimal travel time and extra costs. Combine any two programs and save $100 on each program tuition!
Tuition is $3950. There is a $100 tuition discount for combining this program with another 2-week program.
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.)
Participants will earn approximately 80 research hours and 10 veterinary and clinical hours. You will receive a certificate for 80 service hours upon program completion.
Students can calculate their own record of hours for their VMCAS or other applications – every vet school counts vet hours differently. The above are provided as estimates of the program hours.
Credit is available for the Big Cats and Primates Conservation course through Sacred Heart College in Cayo, Belize.
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.
All participants will need to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 (which may include boosters if eligible) (which may include boosters if eligible). 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.
We understand that sometimes even though a program is not cancelled, an individual participant may be unable to travel due to illness or other personal reasons. In addition to our refund policy, if you must cancel your program enrollment less than 35 days before travel, for any reason at all, you can replace your program with the following virtual package.
This package includes 5 university credits from Iowa Wesleyan University (if you successfully complete the courses) and has a retail value of $5,080.
This offer is valid for cancellation of travel programs between 35 days and 1 day before the program begins, when no refunds are available for participants cancelling their travel. One virtual package available per participant; non-transferable. A participant cancelling their enrollment more than 35 days prior is welcome to select this option over their refund if they so choose.
Link this program to another two-week program and save $100 on each tuition. Costa Rica and Panama programs are an excellent choice to combine with Belize programs as flights are short and convenient. This program can combine with:
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.
This research-based program gives you 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 fieldwork (visiting different sites in the area), lectures and labs, and exploration activities.
Some of the lecture and lab topics include:
Some of the field activities and excursions include:
Some of the cultural and adventure activities include:
We hope you’ll join us in beautiful, tropical Belize this summer for two weeks of research experience with a local organization that is continuing to do great work in the face of the challenges of the pandemic. We will use COVID testing pre-trip, outdoor classroom space, and social distancing and masks when interacting with folks outside our travel pod to help you have a safe and wonderful in-person jaguar and primate research experience in Belize! We will also schedule and facilitate any COVID testing required prior to your return to the United States so that your return home will be as smooth as possible.
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!
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 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:
Announcement of Award: The scholarship winner will be notified by January 15th.
Why 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 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.
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 for 2+ weeks.
Applications for the 2021-2022 school year are closed.
The 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 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 on 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:
The InternationalStudent.com 2020 Travel Video Contest gives students the opportunity to win a scholarship by sending in an original video discussing:
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 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!
"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