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Animal care students delve into the sector’s secrets and skills

Posted: 17 January 2023

A week of meeting the experts and discovering more about the wellbeing and habits of animals was the focus for the new term for animal care students at West Nottinghamshire College.

A specially developed timetable of visits from guests including vets, animal groomers, and animal welfare organisations was drawn up for the curriculum’s industry week (4-6 January)

On Wednesday (4 January) students from Level 2 and 3 animal care groups received a presentation from teacher Chloe Patman, which covered the role and function of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Chloe outlined to students how this government body is responsible for improving and protecting the environment, as well as overlooking food production and standards, agriculture, fisheries and rural communities across the UK.

She also guided students through DEFRA’s career options within the organisation, how the job roles connect and the relevant study routes that students need to focus on if they are looking to secure a career with this government body.

Wednesday afternoon concentrated on cats and dogs thanks to Alice Gylee-Evans from Cats Protection and John Burton from Nottinghamshire Police’s dog handling team.

Students spent time on Microsoft Teams with Alice who delivered an interactive session about the careers available within the organisation and what tasks are associated with the various jobs. Students were invited to complete the online quiz to test their knowledge at the end of the session and they were able to ask Alice any questions about Cats Protection.

Alice met with students again online on Friday covering the subject of how cats interact with humans. Students were able to complete online quizzes to test their knowledge.

Nottinghamshire Police’s dog handler John Burton joined the groups with working dog Cooper and was warmly welcomed by the animal-loving students. John explained the role of police dogs in the force, how they are trained and the dedication which goes into developing a dog such as Cooper. Students asked John a range of questions about careers in the police force’s dog handling unit.

On Thursday (5 January) Bottle Green Veterinary Training’s head veterinary nurse Liz Hughes spoke with students about the different routes into veterinary nursing and becoming a registered vet nurse. She explained the apprenticeship programmes that Bottle Green offers and gave tips on how to seek out training opportunities.

Staff from White Post Farm brought a selection of animals into the college including guinea pigs, rabbits, gerbils, Rankins dragons, corn snakes and giant African millipedes and shared their experiences of work on the farm as well as the tasks involved within their jobs.

Learners discovered more about how to protect our feathered friends, thanks to Carol Hallam, community and volunteer development officer at RSPB Sherwood Forest. Carol spoke about the range of volunteering opportunities available within the organisation and the work of the RSPB in protecting habitats to encourage birds and other wildlife. She also encouraged the students to get involved with the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch.

It was a lively afternoon thanks to dog groomer Beth Railsford and her three Schnauzer dogs Axel, Ida and Gertrude. Beth, who owns K9 Cuts dog grooming business, spoke to students about grooming techniques and the anatomy of dogs. Beth gave a grooming demonstration on one of her dogs and spoke to students about her career journey.

Friday saw another group of guests ready to provide students with a perspective of animals and their habitats. Amy Beale, head of policy and programme at the Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Testing (FRAME) spoke about the work of the organisation based in Nottingham.

Amy discussed how FRAME works to improve scientific efficiency and outcomes by replacing the use of animals in research and testing in medical and bioscience research, and drug discovery and testing for human health.

Amy Chandler, community ranger at Forestry England brought her wealth of advice about how the organisation cares for more land and trees than any other organisation in England. She spoke to students about how they shape landscapes for people, wildlife and trees.

Amy was able to talk about the different roles within the Forestry commission and some of the ongoing work they do. The Level 2 Aim Employability students have recently worked with The Forestry Commission on a habitat clearance project with great success.

Animal care programme area leader Polly Wiltshire said: “The students really enjoyed a vibrant and diverse week of activities and industry knowledge-sharing from our animal and environmental professionals.

“This was the perfect kick-start to the new term, helping students to once again focus on their career pathways after studying animal care at college.”

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