A young Donegal woman’s career is just beginning, but she already has some great ‘tails’ to tell.
Nineteen-year-old Miranda Darnell from Ardara dreams of becoming a zookeeper. Thanks to an Animal Care Post-Leaving Certificate (PLC) programme newly introduced in Donegal, she’s already on the right path.
Miranda is currently completing the Animal Care PLC in Errigal College Letterkenny through Donegal ETB’s Further Education and Training (FET) Service. The one year course gives students the skills, knowledge and competencies to provide for the needs of animals independently under supervision in a range of animal care settings.
Miranda undertook this PLC before going to college in order to get the basic skills and experience in animal welfare. She has always had a dog at home, and the occasional goldfish, but her ultimate goal would be to work with marine animals such as seals.
“I don’t think that I was ready to go off from home just yet. But this prepared me for college,” Miranda said.
“I want to be a zookeeper and obviously I needed a bit of background knowledge in animals.”
Miranda is already enjoying the opportunities that came from the programme. The highlight, she said, was an Erasmus trip to study in Malaga. She gained experience at a local groomers and over three weeks she got a unique experience of another culture and other methods of professional animal care.
“It was an unreal experience. When I wasn’t working I was sightseeing and meeting new people from all different PLCs,” Miranda said.
Also this year, Miranda got invaluable experience at Amanda’s Dog Kennels and Cattery in Glenswilly. “I loved learning their care systems. I took the dogs for walks, fed them, cleaned their kennels and helped to look after their health and dietary requirements.”
The modules of the Animal Care PLC include topics such as animal anatomy and physiology, grooming, biology, health and safety and business administration skills.
“It was a very good layout,” Miranda said. “A lot of the contact is related to dogs, but we looked at a range of animals in anatomy.” Students also went on field trips locally to meet the staff and see the inner workings of Wild Ireland in Burnfoot and Tropical World at Alcorn’s Letterkenny.
Miranda also enjoyed the further education teaching methods and the mutual respect shared between students and the teachers, she said. “We focused on getting through the syllabus and making sure everyone was on the same level. I sometimes stayed after class for one-to-one learning if I was stuck on something. With a small class we were able to get comfortable around each other and we were never afraid to ask a question.”
Now that the course is coming to an end, Miranda is about to begin a new summer job at Lakeside Kennels in Dungloe. She has also decided to build on her PLC and apply to college in September. Her top choice at the moment is Wildlife Biology in at Munster Technological University Tralee.
“I would recommend the Animal Care PLC as a good stepping stone, even if you are not sure it’s what you want to do. You will soon see if it’s right for you,” Miranda said.
Donegal ETB’s FET Service is now accepting applications for ten one year QQI Level 5 PLC courses around the county starting in September in Killybegs (St Catherine’s Vocational School), Letterkenny (Errigal College) and Stranorlar (Finn Valley College). They include Animal Care; Art, Craft and Design; Business Administration; Business Studies; Construction Technology; Early Childhood Care and Education; Health Service; Skills, Nursing Studies, and Sports, Recreation and Exercise.
You can apply online through their website course finder (https://www.donegaletb.ie/further-education-training/course-finder/) using PLC as your keyword to find the course you want. More information on PLCs is available here: https://www.donegaletb.ie/feature/programmes/post-leaving-certificate-plc-programme/Tags: