A group of Level 3 Animal Management students from Hadlow College recently took part in a 3-day workshop hosted by The Big Cat Sanctuary as part of Big Cat Week 2023.

The project was funded by The Kent and Medway Collaborative Outreach Programme (KaMCOP), as part of the College’s ongoing work to develop progression skills; whether that be into employment, apprenticeships or higher education.

The workshop aimed to help students develop their research, presentation, and communication skills, while also learning valuable information about the conservation of Big Cats and how we can help and protect them moving forward.

The final day of the workshop saw 13 groups present to a room of 72 students and staff. The students were able to overcome their nerves to communicate their conservation proposals and present their fantastic social media videos. Following the presentations, 15 students won the chance to visit the Big Cat Sanctuary for a private tour.

Josephine Saunders, Head of Animal Management at Hadlow College, said, “It was quite something to see the personal development achieved in many of our learners over these three days.

“We had learners who vowed they would never present a slide in their life, overcoming their fears and not only delivering a presentation to dozens of people but also very clearly enjoying themselves whilst up on that stage!

“We are so proud of their achievements, and credit to Gill from the Big Cat Sanctuary for giving our learners the tools and confidence to work on this skill.”

Gill Garbo, Education and Sustainability Officer at The Big Cat Sanctuary, said, “The aim of The Big Cat Sanctuary Conserve to Preserve Project was to provide an inspiring opportunity for students to learn more about important conservation work to protect threatened species whilst developing a range of skills.

“It was great to see such engagement, enthusiasm and teamwork going on during the three days and we were all impressed with the final presentations and social media campaigns showcasing the students’ conservation ideas. Lots of students pushed themselves out of their comfort zones and all of them should be commended for the hard work they put into their conservation projects. It was a very enjoyable three days, and we hope to do this again.”

This project is part of a wider programme of activities for Animal Management students who have already had 13 activities with local universities this year.

Following on from the success at Hadlow College, The Big Cat Sanctuary is planning Big Cat Weeks experiences with the EKC Group (Canterbury) and MidKent College before the end of the academic year.

Lucy King

21 Feb 2023

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