From the North East to North Carolina

Three lucky students will be jetting off 3,850 miles to go stateside for the work experience adventure of a lifetime.

Zoe Fleet, 17, from Hartlepool, Nikki Bodley, 17, from Peterlee, and Jess Bell, 18, from Crook, will spend three weeks during July on a work experience placement at The Conservators’ Center in Mebane in North Carolina. They are all on a National Diploma in Animal Management course at East Durham College’s Houghall Campus.

The girls will be following in the footsteps of trailblazers Katie Neesam, Danielle Whitley and Bekki Mullett who ended up going to the Center last year, following an email Katie sent while looking for work experience in the UK not realising The Conservators' Center was based in North Carolina, USA.

Zoe, Nikki and Jess believe it will be a really enjoyable and unique experience that will hopefully benefit their applications to university. Zoe Fleet said: “We think this placement will give us something special that other university applicants will not be able to offer. We hope to widen the knowledge we already have in caring for large animal and to learn new skills, particularly in caring for potentially dangerous animals.

“We also think the opportunity will provide us with a taste of being away from home in preparation for going away to university.”

Zoe and Jess are both hoping to pursue careers in veterinary nursing. While Nikki has a placement lined up at Sea Life Centre in Cornwall for when she completes her course.

The girls will be helping at the Center with tasks such as feeding, cleaning, watering and enrichment activities with different species of wild cats, wild dogs and primates, such as; tigers, lions, wolves, leopards, lemurs and many more.

They will also be going to local schools to spread the word about the need for the conservation of species at the Center and will be taught about the accommodation needs and precautionary measures used when dealing with potentially dangerous animals.

Animal Care Lecturer, John Reid, added: “This is a fantastic opportunity for the students, this placement is part of their work experience programme and the College has provided some financial assistance for their venture.”

“We also have students, Abby Shortland and Annabelle Raine, travelling to work at a Donkey Sanctuary in Cyprus – plus 10 students have just returned from Ireland where they have been lambing.”

The Conservators’ Center in Mebane is a non-profit organisation that conserves threatened species through responsible captive breeding, rescuing wildlife in need, and providing educational programs and support worldwide.