Spring Dates 2020

Sessions run Feb. 29 - May 5 Indicate your date availability on Application

Externship and field course in Conservation Medicine and One Health at the the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute’s Bocas del Toro Station. Application Deadline is rolling admission until spaces are filled. Apply early.


  • Pre-Vet students, recent graduates or Gap-year: Spring Break

  • Recent graduates or Gap-year: Externship 2-4 weeks

  • Vet students*: 1st and 2nd year: Spring Break

  • Vet students: 3rd and 4th year Externship Clinicals 2-4 weeks** (Fulfills out-rotation qualifications for credit consistent with the AVMA Council on Education).

*Veterinary students are granted a different level of clinical reponsability, Field studies in Conservation Medicine and One health is necessary course knowledge for all, however the additional knowledge background of veterinary students allows us to also address them with different expectations.

**The four weeks are encouraged when possible especially if you are interested in producing an independent mentored project for academic recognition, a career in a related field, applying for additional training following vet school. or want to increase the likelihood of seeing different cases and species.

Program Activities

The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) is the home base for CARES Project and the academic components. Veterinary and Field activities are conducted off-campus. See the Program Description page for an overview about the externship contents and sample itinerary. Once accepted and enrolled with deposit, you will receive your Preparation Guide with travel planning information, packing list, miscellaneous trip information, and pre-externship assignments. Apply now to pursue your spot in CARES Project.


Spring Panama 2019

  • 7-10 day Spring Break Conservation Medicine Expedition $2250-$2895

  • 2-week Academic Externship and Smithsonian Field Studies $3750

  • 4-week Academic Externship and Smithsonian Field Studies (for additional 2-week expanded program including a mentored independent project) $3750 + $2450

Included as part of your fee: 

  • Transportation to and from our STRI home base and Bocas del Toro Airport

  • Shared accommodations at the STRI Bocas del Toro Station, include linens, towels, and basic cleaning service

  • All meals together whether at STRI or on an excursion, excluding planned recreational time on your own (usually one lunch and one dinner per week)

  • Educational program tuition (curriculum and instructors, guest presenters and guides, project and tour participation)

  • All program activities and associated costs (veterinary mobile clinic, field trip excursions, and our organized recreational functions) *see Program Description for more information

  • Use of STRI facility, classroom, and wifi

  • Boat or land transportation for all program outings

  • Educational, medical and skills lab supplies

  • Administrative processing (forms, course credit, letters of recommendation/reference)

Not Included:

  • Airfare and travel to/from Bocas del Toro Airport, Panama

  • Medical Travel insurance (This is required for medical evacuation in the unlikely event of an emergency. World Nomads below is a sponsor of Sea Turtle Conservancy and our favorite for covering optional recreational activities. Many regular policies do not cover activities considered higher risk such as rent an ATV or take a surf lesson.)

  • Extra recreational activities (surf lessons, scuba diving, ATV rental, canopy ziplining, etc.)

  • Personal expenses

Registration and Payments

The deposit ($850 Spring Break Conservation Medicine Expedition and $1250 2-4-week Externships) is due within 10 days of acceptance due to fairness of giving another student the opportunity. Balance due no later than 30 days prior to your program date. Deposit may be transferable to another date if available, in the case of an unavoidable circumstance, up to 90 days prior to your arrival.

Once accepted and registered with deposit, your accommodations and program spot will be reserved. A Preparation Guide will be issued containing the information on booking travel, packing, preliminary reading, etc.


***You will be required to provide proof of current tetanus, measles, and rabies vaccinations. Pre-vet students must have the rabies series to participate (or sign a waiver however vaccination is preferred).*** Bring any personal medications, epipens, or any personal essentials. Malaria is designated as low risk in our region by the CDC, refer to the CDC for more travel information. Due to the low risk, Malaria prevention treatments aren’t commonly administered for those spending time in our area. The medicines can have side affects which could impair your trip experience. Please make any appropriate health decisions with your physician. Travel medical Insurance required, and is best to purchase at the time of initial program deposit for best coverage.

Grants and Scholarships

Students are encouraged to seek funding. At the current time, CARES Project does not have an internal funding source. However, scholarships may be available through your Study Abroad office, vet school International Programs office, campus organizations, private companies, or online searches (we can provide some helpful links by contacting us directly). An online fundraising campaign such as Plumfund (no cost to use the platform), is another possible resource, start early!


CARES Project Foundation for the support of students and animals.

World Nomads, partner in supporting Sea Turtle Conservancy