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Initially I put myself forward for this role as it seemed like a great way to start working with animals whilst also studying for a qualification at the same time. I am a very hands-on person and the idea of going back into full time studying didn’t appeal at all but this job offered the best of both roles. When I first started I remember being so nervous. I’d never been around many larger animals let alone handled them! Within the first hour on day one I had placed a head collar on one of the Jersey Cows and taken her for a walk, something that then became one of my daily highlights as the cows proved themselves to be a firm favourite of mine!

Looking back now I remember first handling each of the animals, the warning from colleagues to be mindful of the pigs when cleaning them out for instance, and I compare this to the recent months where being mindful of an animals behaviour become instinct. I loved my time on the farm – I have learnt so much.

I have been so lucky to work and study at a farm with such varied animals. I had a massive variety from Llamas, Alpacas, Goat, Sheep, Ferrets, Rabbits Corn Snakes and bearded dragons; and of course not forgetting my favourite – Cows! To name just a few! I was able to learn a variety of handling skills, routine treatments such as foot trimming and shearing, alongside more novel things such as vaccinating animals and halter training cows. I believe this variety helped me become more confident within myself and my skills. It has also provided me with a huge range of skills relating to different species, something which my current employers picked up on during my interview.  The farm also helped to to prepare for the cold hard truths when working in the animal sector. As the cheesy saying goes ‘everyday may not be good but there is something good in everyday’.

Sparsholt College helped me to learn the knowledge behind everything, the anatomy of some of the animals I worked with for instance, and supported me if I had any questions about the animals I cared for. The support I have received in the last few months from the Apprenticeship team with regards to booking my assessment during Covid and having absolutely no idea how an assessment via Zoom worked have been so helpful. Especially Laura Benson, who has answered my emails no matter what time of the day and sent me a good luck email on assessment day.

I would recommend anyone wishing to learn some new skills who maybe like me isn’t looking to (or maybe isn’t able to) return to full time education to seek a role as an Apprentice.

Having had my final assessment last week and receiving a Distinction I look back on the last 18 months and am truly happy for all the poo I picked up, all the hay I divvied out, all the times I got hit in the face by a Goat horn, all the fails I had when trying to catch an animal, all the projects I completed for college and the multitude of hours I spent on my portfolio. From my experience and my college qualification I have now been able to gain a job as a Patient Care Assistant within a Veterinary Practice where I will be working towards becoming a Veterinary Nurse within the next few years. This Apprenticeship allowed me to re-discover my love for all animals, even those I had never really been around before.

I would recommend anyone wishing to learn some new skills who maybe like me isn’t looking to (or maybe isn’t able to) return to full time education to seek a role as an Apprentice. There are so many different apprenticeship roles in a huge variety of companies, not just in the animal sector, and I have a new found appreciation for anyone who has been an ‘Apprentice’ as it isn’t always easy juggling work and life and studying all at once!