The Virginia McCaffrey Scholarship

Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary (AWS) and rescue center is proud to present the Virginia McCaffrey Scholarship for Costa Rican undergraduate and graduate students. In 2024, AWS will accept up to three students who are actively pursuing an accredited degree in one of the following areas; veterinary medicine, wildlife conservation, biology or zoology. Applicants can choose to form part of our veterinary and orphan care or wildlife husbandry internship

Are You a Good Fit?

Deadline to apply: 1st December 2023.

Applicants must present the information mentioned to the right to  by no later than the 1st of December 2023. The e-mail title should read “Virginia Mcaffrey Aplicación de beca”.

In order to be considered, all applicants must be over 18 years of age, must show proof of Costa Rican nationality, and must be able to commit to a minimum of one month, and a maximum of three months. Interns will be expected to work five days per week.

Eligible candidates will be asked to an interview (in-person or virtual) and interviews will be held throughout the month of December 2023. The top three chosen applicants will be expected to live on site for the duration of their internship during their working days, in the shared volunteer house at Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary, 7km south of Dominical. The sanctuary will provide accommodation and all meals throughout their stay, Wi-Fi, laundry service and equipment for the internship. No additional stipend will be provided. The scholarship will take place within the year 2024, however, selected candidates will have the choice on when to commence with their internship (dependent on the center’s availability).

Orphan care & veterinary internship:

Interns will be expected to shadow veterinary staff and assist with the daily running of the center. In order to apply for the veterinary internship, we require that applicants are studying or have graduated from a veterinary-related field and have clinical experience in the country. A variety of duties and experiences are available depending on how long you are able to join for. Interns can expect to participate in duties such as:

  • Feeding neonate and juvenile animals
  • Assisting and observing animal emergencies and triage
  • Observing surgeries
  • Observing and learning about necropsies (interns may be qualified to perform necropsies on a case-by-case basis)
  • Loading syringes and administering medications to animals at the sanctuary
  • Assisting with animal husbandry (cleaning, feeding and enrichment)
  • Preparing diet and nutritional need
  • Record keeping
  • Completing independent necropsies, depending on the animals received
  • Assisting and observing animal surgeries
  • Practicing critical care skills like bandaging techniques, inserting catheters for an IV, and fluid therapy
  • Practicing and learning about different suturing techniques
  • Practicing wild animal medicine and pharmacology
  • Assisting with physiotherapy
  • Collecting wild foods and leaves for the animals
  • Taking part in weekly educational lectures/ workshops

Wildlife husbandry internship:

Interns can expect to gain experience working in all areas of a wildlife rescue center whilst simultaneously learning how to develop an independent research study. In order to apply for the wildlife husbandry internship, AWS requires that applicants are studying or have graduated from wildlife or biology related degree in the country. A variety of duties and experiences are available depending on how long you are able to join for. Interns can expect to participate in duties such as;

  • Daily husbandry of sanctuary and rehab animals
  • Diet preparation
  • Feeding animals
  • Creating and administering enrichment
  • Feeding juvenile animals and neonates
  • Carrying out an independent research project
  • Record keeping
  • Observing routine necropsies
  • Animal restraint and capture methods
  • Participating in animal training sessions at the sanctuary
  • Managing our onsite camera trap program
  • Participating in weekly, educational lectures/ workshops put on by our staff

What to present

In order to be considered, applicants must present the following information to Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary;

1.      Internship scholarship form (attached below)

2.      Updated CV

3.      Cover letter (of no more than 400 words) describing their passion for wildlife, their future goals and their experience in the field.

4.      A research proposal of no more than 750 words on a wildlife-related project they would like to undertake whilst at AWS.

5.      Two professional or educational references related to their degree (name, job title, institute, e-mail address and telephone number)

6.      A certificate from your University stating which course you are currently studying/ have graduated from.

About Virginia

Virginia McCaffrey was a beloved woman and a local volunteer at Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary for many years. Every Sunday, she would volunteer with her husband Bob, always spreading love, joy and positivity to everyone at the sanctuary. Since her passing, her husband has made numerous donations to the center. With these funds, we have created the Virginia McCaffrey Scholarship Fund to financially support students exclusively from Costa Rica who are interested in a career in the biological or veterinary sciences while, at the same time, helping to protect Costa Rica’s biodiversity. Virginia was an astonishing woman who dedicated her life and career protecting the most vulnerable, both human and animals. We hope that in creating this scholarship, that missions and her spirit will live on.

Please provide your personal whatsapp phone number so that a member of our volunteer team can contact you directly once you are arriving to Costa Rica
Do you have any allergies?
Select the preferred duration for your internship

About You

Are you fine with working in the rain?(Required)
Are you fine with working in the direct sun?(Required)
Are you fine doing work in a place with high humidity?(Required)
Are you fine with working indipendantly at night to feed the orphans?(Required)
Are you aware that you may encounter snakes, spiders and scorpions at the center?(Required)
The center is located up a steep, dirt, mountain road, 1km away from the main highway. For any activities that you would like to plan yourselves, you will need to order a taxi. Are you OK with this?(Required)
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