A new partnership that will support aspiring zookeepers and those who want future careers in animal care or countryside management has launched this month.
The first cohort of students on Furness College’s animal management programme have enjoyed their first day of practical experience at partner college Myerscough.
The 13 students have enrolled on the Level 3 course, where they learn theory at the college’s sixth form campus in Barrow and work with animals in Myerscough’s state-of-the-art facilities, near Preston.
Furness College science tutor Jenny Holden-Wilde, who is leading the programme, said the course gives students the experience of working with a vast range of species from reptiles and rodents right through to alpacas, sheep and other farm animals.
“The class are great, they are very excited about getting started on the hands-on learning. They all have animals at home or within their smallholdings and are keen to expand their knowledge asking lots of questions. We have several who are keen to be veterinary nurses, a budding zookeeper and a few who want to go into gamekeeping and countryside management.
“The first topic we have been looking at is animal health, learning how to take an animal’s pulse and temperature and they are all bringing lots of ideas to the classroom in how to spot changes in animal wellbeing.”
She said the first cohort come from areas across Barrow, Walney, Dalton and Ulverston and will go on to learn about animal behaviour, genetics and conservation and gain the two-year science-based qualification.
One of the new group of students, Gregor Ross, 16, who joined college from Dowdales School, said he couldn’t wait to get going.
“The facilities here at Myerscough are very good,” he said. “I’ve always liked animals and thought that this would be a good course to do, especially as there is nothing similar on offer locally. I’m also interested in conservation, so this is a perfect course for me.”
Head of Animal Studies at Myerscough College and University Centre Ursula Jeziorski said they were really excited to be partnering with Furness College to extend the programme into South Cumbria.
“Our £3 million Animal Studies Centre is sector-leading and it’s a perfect environment for the new students to learn and develop their passion for the industry. They will gain practical skills and also have the opportunity to care for a wide range of companion animals such as dogs, cats, rabbits and ferrets, farm animals and ponies and more exotic species, such as geckos, lizards and invertebrates,” she said
‘’There are countless education and career opportunities for learners on this programme to pursue and we look forward to seeing their progression over the coming months.’’
Jenny Holden-Wilde, who has a background in zoology and ecology, has worked on international animal research projects and has previously worked as a zookeeper and in conservation project management and wildlife monitoring. She currently runs a flock of sheep who are also her genetic research subjects and conservation grazing managers.
Furness College Principal and Chief Executive Professor Andrew Wren said it was vital for students from the area to have access to specialist teaching in land-based education.
“We are delighted to partner with Myerscough where the facilities are absolutely amazing and will offer our students an incredible insight into animal management, supported by teaching from experts in the field.”
The students travel to Myerscough one day a week on a bus with travel paid for by college, do two days classroom learning at the sixth form and will enjoy the chance to do field work and work experience in Furness and the South Lakes. It can lead to employment or university qualifications in animal care and management.
For more details search animal care courses on the website www.furness.ac.uk