For three weeks during the summer of 2017, Devin McClain, an Indiana University of Pennsylvania student from Clymer, traveled to Thailand to volunteer in marine conservation on the island of Koh Tao and explore the wilderness of Thailand.
She also participated in a forest restoration project through Chiang Mai University.
McClain, the daughter of Daniel and Sally McClain, of Clymer, is a senior majoring in environmental ecology conservation biology.
McClain and her team traveled to Koh Tao to volunteer with a study abroad organization, Loop Abroad, and its work with the New Heaven Marine Conservation project.
In her time on Koh Tao, McClain volunteered helping to track marine life through surveys done via snorkeling and free diving. She also helped to support the rebuilding of coral reefs of the coast of Thailand by helping to build artificial reef structures.
She studied and learned about the marine life on and around Koh Tao and the projects being undertaken to attempt to observe and conserve them.
“The most beneficial part of the trip was the experience of being fully involved into another country,” she said. “Loop Abroad takes students and fully immerses them into the culture and shows you the true beauty of the area rather than doing all of the tourist sites. I have been on other mission trips, but this one made me really see Thailand on how it really, truly is.”
In addition to her time on the island, McClain explored many other ecosystems of Thailand, including the cloud forest in the north, cave systems, rain forests and jungles.
She and her team assisted in a forest-restoration project being undertaken by FORRU via Chiang Mai University, which is attempting to rebuild and sustain forests in the mountains around the city of Chiang Mai.
Loop Abroad has conservation, animal science and veterinary programs.
Admission is selective, and McClain was chosen based on her transcript, admissions essay and professional references.
“This trip broadened my views on career paths,” she said. “I had a semi-set path of what I wanted to do after graduation, but this trip was an eye-opening experience to what I actually wanted to pursue in my life. This trip really influenced me and made me think about what I really wanted in life and how I could pursue and accomplish my goals in my future career and overall life. It was an experience that I will never forget.”