Meet some of our past students and
2018 Peruvian Veterinary Team volunteers:

By: Stephen R. Purdy, DVM

The six young women below are all members of the June 2018 veterinary volunteer team who were led by Drs. Gerardo Diaz from Peru and Gian D’Alterio from the UK. Each of these excellent students also received training in Nunoa Project’s North American Camelid Studies Program as undergraduates.

Elizabeth Tran

My experience with the CSP began during my junior year of college. I had never worked with alpacas before this, but I immediately fell in love with the work that we were doing as students. From semen analyses to ultrasound exams, I quickly realized how unique and rewarding the program was for us. While working with the CSP animals, I have gained valuable skills in both management and medicine that benefits me greatly as an aspiring veterinarian. Few can say that they have done the kind of work that we do, and I am very grateful for it. I looked forward to and enjoyed to working in Peru this summer very much.


Francesca Riffo

My experience working in the Camelid Studies Program has been an extremely rewarding one. It has reaffirmed my decision to pursue a career in veterinary medicine. I have gained an immense amount of knowledge on how to care for alpacas. I can confidently perform ultrasounds, endoscopic exams, and semen analyses. The CSP has given me many opportunities such participating in various research studies that have transformed what we know about alpacas. I loved working with the CSP so much and I am grateful to have gone to Peru this summer to continue our work there.


Amanda Deane

The Camelid Studies Program was by far my favorite experience while at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Dr. Purdy taught us valuable camelid reproductive skills such as behavior testing, facilitating breedings, record keeping, ultrasounding, and endoscopic exams. Not only did Dr. Purdy teach us these skills, but he also taught us how to think critically to solve reproductive problems on our own. When we would ask him questions, he would often respond “What do you think we should do about that?”. This class and my trip to Peru this summer was a key talking point in all of my veterinary school interviews. I will be attending Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine this fall in part due to my involvement with this course. I am excited to bring my knowledge of camelids with me and share my experiences with other future veterinarians.


Julia Berger

I will be a third-year veterinary student at the Cummings School for Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in the fall of this year. I am interested in small ruminants, working equids, and especially camelids. I was first introduced to camelids when Dr. Purdy spoke to the undergraduate pre-veterinary club at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA, during the spring of my junior year. His talk inspired me to reach out to a small alpaca farm in central Massachusetts, where I continued to intern for several summers, learning more about the fiber industry. I then participated in Nunoa Project’s Camelid Studies Program during the fall of my senior year. The class was an incredible hands on opportunity to learn about alpaca care, reproduction, and pregnancy detection. At veterinary school, I am an officer for the Student Livestock Organization, Veterinarians for Global Solutions, One Health Club and the Spanish Club, which aims to teach veterinary-related Spanish. After graduation, I hope to practice large animal ambulatory medicine. I am especially interested in working in rural and underserved communities both domestically and internationally. I was excited to have the opportunity to travel with the Nunoa Project to Peru this summer as this is my first experience with international veterinary medicine.


Katie Clark

Over three years ago as a UMass Amherst Animal Science student I joined the Camelid Studies Program. At the time I had no idea how rewarding the program would truly be. I had never worked with alpacas or llamas before, but I gained so much experience from working on the farm and in laboratory sessions. This type of knowledge could never be gained in the classroom, and I learned far more in the program than in any lecture. I have now performed hundreds of ultrasounds and semen evaluations and gained a passion for this incredibly unique species along the way. I have just completed my first year of veterinary school at Tufts Cummings School, and traveled to Peru in June to work with the Nuñoa Project. I am thrilled to be able to continue my work with camelids and give back to the country that gave us these amazing creatures. I know that my knowledge of camelids will serve me well when I get to my large animal rotations in veterinary school, and in the future, as I plan to pursue a career in large animal medicine.


Sandra Barzola

I joined Nunoa Project’s Camelid Studies Program during my junior year in college and became inspired by the work conducted on the animals through ultrasounds, semen analysis and breeding. Dr. Purdy has provided me with great opportunities through show events and reproductive research. I served as the alpaca manager during my senior year and helped with data collection for vaginal endoscopic exams. My experience with the animals has helped me decide to work with camelids as a mixed practice veterinarian. This summer I served as a volunteer for the Nuñoa Project in Peru to help local farmers with herd health management in order to improve wool and animal production. Being born in Peru, I am excited to learn more about my culture and the Andean communities. My experience with the CSP has motivated me to provide community service to third world countries through the use of animal medicine. I am grateful for the experience since it has helped me get accepted into vet school at Ohio State for fall 2018, and I plan to continue working with alpacas and giving back to my country in the future.


Nunoa Project is a US nonprofit organization which has been active in Peru and the US for 11 years. It was started by veterinarians, anthropologists, and others interested in South American camelids and the Peruvian people whose livelihood depends on them. The basis for the work in both countries is providing hands on educational programs for farmers, students, and veterinarians. The programs in both countries support each other and are integral to the success of both. Knowledge derived from each is shared with the other. The emphasis is on problem solving to identify practical solutions to problems of animal health and human needs.


The Nunoa Project model is to work hands on with alpaca and llama farmers to evaluate their animals, respond to their concerns, educate farmers in methods to improve production, and spread knowledge via local farmers. Twice yearly a team of veterinarians and students works in the Andes for two weeks. We also supply support to farmers through our Peruvian director of operations, Dr. Gerardo Diaz.


Our US and Peruvian work both emphasize education as the key to improvement of animal health and veterinary skills. The goals of the program are to train future and current veterinarians and animal scientists and alpaca farmers in practical subjects related to animal health, husbandry, and reproduction. This is accomplished with our teaching herd of 30 alpacas and 10 donkeys and visits to local producers. Preveterinary students are exposed to the alpaca industry at local shows. Over 50% of our 100 Peruvian veterinary team volunteers have completed one or more courses which are offered each semester and during the month of June. Clearly, we are making a positive impact on these excellent young people.


We continue to make a difference with our educational and hands on programs in both the US and Peru. We have the expertise and motivation to continue this important work. Fundraising for educational projects in the US and international agricultural work is particularly challenging. We are primarily funded by alpaca and llama owners and need more donors to continue each year. Our budget is available on request and I am happy to discuss any aspect of our work or ideas you may have at any time. Thank you for your consideration!

Stephen R. Purdy, DVM, President Nunoa Project Peru
Director North American Camelid Studies Program
150 Fearing Street #101, Amherst, MA 01002
413-658-7718 • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view


Education and support for farmers, students, and veterinarians in the US and Peru