A love of animals was Chloe Kane’s motivation in acquiring numerous qualifications in the fields of Zookeeping, Animal Care and Vet Nursing over the last ten years. Based on her experiences so far, Chloe says her best study experience has been at SIT.
North Islander Chloe grew up in a family who had lots of animals. “I’ve had animals in my life since the day I was born,” she says. After finishing high school, Chloe studied animal care in Tauranga, but found the experience isolating. “In my class I just felt like I got lost,” she said.
Entering work in the animal industry for around four-and-a-half years as a Stage Assistant in a farm tourism business, Chloe had a varied role, which included the background work for the stage shows, milking the dairy herd, and raising baby farm animals in the farm park’s Animal Nursery.
Although she loved the work, Chloe put in long hours. “You’re consistently working 10-hour days, on your feet,” she said. Hit hard by Covid restrictions and lockdowns, the owners put the business into hibernation for two years; Chloe and other staff were made redundant.
This helped open the door for Chloe to study again. She discovered SIT through a workmate. “He’d heard through his nephew that SIT was really good and he was enjoying his studies,” she explained. After checking it out, Chloe reckoned she could get two years of study in Invercargill for the same cost as one year of study in Hamilton. “From a financial point of view it made sense ...” She and partner Sam packed up their lives and moved south so Chloe could complete a New Zealand Diploma in Veterinary Nursing at SIT, Invercargill. It was a big step to take, but Chloe has no regrets. “I’m really glad I did it, I think I made the best call.”
Chloe immediately noticed the difference in SIT’s tutors. “The tutors (Mel and Katrina) were amazing. I never got lost or forgotten ... I’m quite quiet. I never felt invisible,” she explains. The well-planned course was another big plus. ”They [tutors] were always prepared and they didn’t rush things.” Everything was quite clear and explained well. “If you didn’t understand, they would find a way to help you; they presented really good examples,” she added.
“I was thoroughly impressed with the practical aspects of the course, the theory and how engaged the students were with the class.”
Chloe really enjoyed her two years at SIT. Having already studied, there was some animal handling content Chloe already knew, but there was plenty of new learning with animal health. “How to do IV lines, the different fluids, drugs and how to calculate their use. It was cool to learn all of that,” she adds.
In her previous job, Chloe had studied zookeeping certificates through Australian-based learning provider, Learning Cloud. She knew how to study independently, juggling work commitments as well, and this was an advantage. “During this [SIT] course I was a mature student ... I knew how to time manage and I knew how hectic it would be.” Chloe managed to continue with the zookeeping papers in the first year, then put this study on hold in the second year to focus on achieving her diploma.
Chloe lists her SIT highlights: the tutors – “they were really lovely”, she appreciated her friendly classmates, and the Zero Fees Scheme “was definitely a big highlight”.
“As a mature student, I had different priorities,” Chloe says. She valued connecting with her classmates and made friends, “especially with the diploma classmates, we’d study together and help each other out”.
The surgery practicals were the biggest hurdle Chloe encountered; initially she wasn’t very confident about administering anaesthetic, but gradually she improved.
“Those practicals really helped and increased my knowledge quite a lot ... checking the animals’ vitals and remembering everything ... it’s scary being responsible for animals with anaesthetic, so many things can go wrong.” However, “it boosted my confidence knowing I could do it,” adds Chloe.
And clearly she could do it; Chloe earned the Royal Canin Award for Best Practical Student twice, as well as the 2022 Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health Award for Excellence at the completion of her diploma.
“It was surprising I was best practical student two years in a row; I did better than I thought I had. It actually meant a lot because it’s the first trophy I’d ever won outside of high school.” Chloe was especially happy, as her parents travelled down from Kawerau for graduation to see her receive the awards. “They came to Invercargill for the first time and they fell in love with it too.”
Since graduating, Chloe and Sam have decided to settle in Invercargill and make a life there. “We are staying in the south, we absolutely love it here, and we’re not planning to move back to the North Island,” says Chloe. And surprise number two: for the time being, Chloe is not working in vet nursing. “I’m taking a break, I can always go back to animals,” she says, as her career goals have now changed.
Up until Chloe’s SIT studies, zookeeping was always the goal. “Since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, I’ve always worked towards this. I was going to go to Australia and get into wildlife parks. Mum pushed me to do vet nursing to have something to fall back on,” Chloe says.
Having both found work in a large supermarket chain, Chloe and Sam can start planning for their future, such as buying their own home. The move to Invercargill means these life goals have become achievable and they’re tracking in a new direction. “If I’d stayed in my last job, we wouldn’t be halfway towards where we are now,” Chloe explains.
Looking forward to getting her own place and being surrounded by animals once more, Chloe knows the vet nursing skills will get used. “... I have all these animal health skills to know when the animal actually needs to see a vet!”
For now, Chloe says they have a ‘go with the flow’ attitude. “We’re more interested in a stress-free life. We absolutely enjoy it here, we’re happy, so this is what’s right for us.”