Open Colleges

Studying an Animal Care Course Online: Verne Studies from New Zealand

by Yvette McKenzie
Posted: February 16, 2017

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Imagine working with the animals you love in a professional career! We spoke to Verne Ward, an Open Colleges student studying online from New Zealand about her career & study in Animal Care.

Surrounded by the beautiful mountains of Mount Taranaki, Mount Ruapehu and Mount Tongariro, Open Colleges Animal Studies student Verne Ward lives in the District of Wanganui in a suburb called Bulls. “Yes, you really can get milk from Bulls,” Verne jokes. “We have a supermarket that stocks it!”

Verne studied a Certificate course in Animal care, a course that has been specially custom designed for pet owners to teach them all the things they need to know about how to properly care for their, or others’ pets and animals. It’s a stepping stone into a professional career in Animal Care, which Verne already has lots of experience in.

District of Wanganui in New Zealand

A Past Career Working in Animal Care as a Kennel Manager

“I was a Farm and Kennel Manager at the time I decided to complete further studies,” Verne explains. “I have a passion for animal health and the animal care certificate seemed like the perfect answer to furthering my education and allowing me to be more advanced in my level of animal care in my role.”

Verne says that she is looking at completing her veterinary studies eventually, “and the animal care certificate is part of the qualification.”

This savvy student has had an interesting and varied career path already. “I moved around a lot, going to many different schools. I completed a Level 2 NCEA (a New Zealand university entrance qualification) then began working with dairy cows.”

“I also had worked for two years previously as a Kennel Assistant, I had 10 years’ experience working with dairy cows and two years’ experience working with sheep and beef.  I have always had pets too, mostly dogs but hedgehogs, budgies and possums also.”

Her love of animals is very clear. “I continued working with animals, then I took a break and worked with people for about seven years. Then went back to working with animals!” Verne says her passion for animals has led her to an interesting and exciting course.

Animal Care Career Student Story

Studying an Online Animal Care Course: Challenges and Discoveries

“I really enjoyed learning with Open Colleges,” Verne says. “I found the content relevant and really enjoyed the feedback from my Trainer at the end of the assessments. That was really useful for motivation.”

The online study format allows students to study anywhere and anytime, so long as they have webs access – even from a paddock somewhere! “It was important to be able to study online,” Verne says, “as I worked full-time and completing my certificate online allowed me to work on it in my free time.”

Anything worthwhile can sometimes be challenging. “The most challenging thing about the certificate was finding the time to do my study as my life is so busy!” Verne says. “I thoroughly enjoyed the content of the study book and the online study guide; I found enough resources for my assessments in the reading materials and I did my own research via Google.”

Animal Care Careers

Vern’s Future Goals: Working With Animals  

So, what’s next for Verne? “At this stage, I am currently looking for more work, as the research facility I was employed on has made recently made me redundant,” Verne explains. “My dream job is working with dogs. I have enjoyed my time breeding dogs and training them and learning about what makes them tick.”

If you love animals and want to learn more about them, the ACM20117 Certificate II in Animal Studies course could be a great way to learn. Students can achieve this qualification in their own time, at their own pace, building their studies around current work or personal commitments.

Verne is part-way through her course and when she’s not horse riding or watching a good movie, she loves hanging out with her beloved pets. “I have my own dog at home so we do stuff together like walking in the park and swimming in the river.”

With years of experience behind her and a future certificate under her belt, the outlook seems very bright for Verne. And yes, you really can get bull’s milk in Wanganui!

Merino sheep and tailless calf

Love the images in this post? Here’s what they are:

  • #1: The beautiful District of Wanganui in New Zealand, where Verne lives.
  • #2: A puppy that Verne bred. “He is big now and won't stand still for a photo anymore!”
  • #3: Verne, riding a friend’s horse way up by the windmills.
  • #4: One of Verne’s Merino sheep who gave birth to a tailless lamb, “He was a real cutie!”

Thinking of a Career in Animal Care?

Check out Open Colleges' animal studies courses, all available to study online, at your own pace. Kickstart your personal and professional goals. 



Yvette has over a decade of professional experience at some of Australia’s largest media corporations, including Southern Cross Austereo and the Macquarie Media Network. With a degree in Communications (majoring in Journalism), she covers stories on education, new knowledge technologies and independent learning.

Recommended Course

Certificate II in Animal Studies

The Certificate II in Animal Care ACM20117 has been developed in consultation with industry experts to teach you the skills and knowledge you need to begin working in the animal care industry.

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