This past summer, Devin McClain (senior, environmental ecology and conservation biology) traveled to Thailand to volunteer in marine conservation on the island of Koh Tao.

While there, McClain explored the wilderness of northern Thailand and participated in a forest restoration project through Chiang Mai University. 

She studied through Loop Abroad, a project in partnership with the New Heaven Marine Conservation project. 

In her time on Koh Tao, McClain volunteered to help track marine life through surveys conducted via snorkeling and free diving. 

She also helped to repair the warning line that prevents boats from going into reef areas. The line was broken in many areas, and she dived down to fix the many broken areas. 

“That was probably the biggest accomplishment,” McClain said. “I felt like we were helping the environment and helping the community.”

In her first week, McClain explored different temples, worked with villagers and learned the history of Thailand. 

The next week was spent snorkeling and working with reef repairs. 

“The second week was definitely more low-key than the first and not as packed,” she said. 

McClain explored many other ecosystems in Thailand, including cave systems, rain forests, jungles and the cloud forest in the North.

Loop Abroad offers conservation, animal science and veterinary programs for students and young adults ages 14 to 30 and offers financial aid and fundraising help. For more information on this program, visit 

Admission is selective, and McClain said she was chosen based on her transcript, admissions essay and professional references.

Loop Abroad focuses more on studying and education rather than volunteerism. 

The program wants its students to contribute and serve the community to their best ability. Loop Abroad also works with locally run animal welfare organizations so students can contribute to long-term improvement in the countries they visit. 

With trips to Thailand, South Africa and Australia, Loop Abroad is able to support animal welfare and conservation around the world due to its students dedication.

“Our students are some of the most amazing people I have ever met,” said the program’s managing director, Jane Stine. “They are kind, compassionate, dedicated, hard-working individuals who have big goals and want to make a big impact. 

“It’s amazing to see how eager they are to learn and challenge themselves. Over the last eight years, we’ve seen them go on to do some wonderful things.”

“The programs wants to take students for good reason,” McClain said. “It was a truly valuable experience.”

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