By Katheryn Sullivan on August 27, 2018

Congratulations to DVM class of 2020 students, Pedro Soto-Elias and Melissa Santonocito, and DVM class of 2019 students, Jill Grogan, and Jamie Welker, for being selected to travel to Oaxaca, Mexico, for participation in the Mazunte Project.

The Mazunte Project was founded in 2001 by Richard Rodger, DVM, small animal practitioner from North Grafton, Massachusetts, and Marcelino Reyes, DVM, practitioner at the Centro Mexicano de la Tortuga (Mexico Turtle Center) in Mazunte.

The project has two main objectives:

  • Perform free dog sterilization in the villages along the Oaxaca cost
  • Protect the endangered Leatherback and Olive Ridley sea turtle species

To be selected, students had to meet the following criteria:

  • Possess primary surgical and anesthesia experience. Some examples include RAVS trips, c-Snip rotation, MSU Primary Care rotation, MSU Anesthesia rotation, and barn cat spay/neuter spays
  • Express interest in shelter medicine, public health, small animal surgery, conservation medicine, or small animal general practice
  • Speak Spanish fluently
  • Have international experience
  • Be able to collaborate and work in a team
  • Be willing to work outdoors in temperatures of 80–90 degrees and operate in a primitive/rustic setting without running water or flushing toilets

The Oaxaca beaches are home to several of the most important sea turtle nesting grounds in the world. Each January, a group of veterinarians, technicians, students, and devoted volunteers, travels to Oaxaca, Mexico, and provides sterilization procedures for the local feral dog population. Controlling the feral dog population reduces a main predator of sea turtles, which benefits not only the Oaxaca community, but also helps shape successful future graduates of the College and other institutions that are involved.

This externship provides an opportunity for the College’s students to not only learn basic clinical skills, but also to develop a global perspective on issues affecting communities around the world.

The students will travel to Oaxaco, Mexico, with Emery Engers, DVM, assistant professor for the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, and Pierre DePorre, DVM, distinguished alumni, in January 2019. To help defer the cost of the trip, each student will receive a stipend. Students are required to write a story about their experience for a comprehensive report.

To read more about the externship, visit The Mazunte Project.