Columbus student works with animals in Belize

A Columbus resident and Franklin College student recently spent two weeks in Belize helping animals, discovering Belizean culture, and learning hands-on what it’s like to be a veterinarian.

Isabel Sanchez, 21, a senior majoring in biology, was selected as part of a small team that volunteered at working ranches and local farms caring for horses, sheep, cattle, and pigs as part of study-abroad organization CELA Belize.

The large animal veterinary medicine program brings students to Belize for two weeks to volunteer alongside Belizean veterinarians and learn from them and from Belizean animal experts. Isabel and her team took a course in the husbandry and health issues confronting farm animals in Belize so that they could be better equipped to study and help support animals in the tropics as well at the farms where they spent their time.

“The amount of information I learned in two weeks was great!”, Sanchez said. “I had great opportunity to work with Dr. Tesecum and watch how he helped and interacted with the community. Doing all of my learning in a new culture, Belize, made everything even better. Belize is beautiful, and this program taught me so much!”

Belize is only a two-hour flight from Miami, but it faces different farming and environmental challenges than the US. The nation is over 50% rainforest, which provides unique conservation opportunities and a chance for students to learn from the hardworking local veterinarians who help to sustain the agriculture industry in Belize.

In addition to their work with farm animals, they helped to host a free small pet clinic for animals owned by locals in the area. Isabel and her team were also able to explore San Ignacio, a town in the Cayo District of western Belize.

CELA Belize has animal science and veterinary programs for undergraduate and veterinary students, as well as internship programs throughout Belize. Programs are offered in summer and winter and are two weeks long, and college credit through Iowa Wesleyan University is available.