Here’s a sobering thought…
By the time Year 12 student, Noah Davies, has achieved his goal of becoming a zookeeper or animal conservationist, many more species will be extinct.
“Creatures are being impacted by us more and more and many need our help to survive,” Noah says. “Most of our developments destroy habitat and some people see other animals as ‘lesser’ beings or expendable. I want to know I’ve done my best to help them.”
Even Noah’s name suggests a carer of animals.
For his fifteenth birthday, his parents gave him the “amazing” experience of being a ‘Zookeeper for a Day’ at Werribee Zoo.
Not only was it a chance to get up close to the animals, the zoo staff also gave him some great tips about the pathway into becoming an animal carer.
“You start as a volunteer,” Noah says. “The senior people see how you are around the animals and how the animals respond to you.”
Noah will need some other income stream as he builds his experience and reputation, but he’s already developed a small business around dog and cat-sitting called ‘4 Paws and Claws’.
This year he’s studying Biology, Environmental Science, English, Further Maths and, his favourite, VET Animal Studies.
A collaboration between BSSC and CMC, VET Animal Studies sees Noah out on the CMC Coolock Campus one day a week learning essentials of animal care.
“I just love it!” he says. “It’s hands-on and gives me an overall base for things such as animal health and first aid as well as occupational health and safety around animals.”
In many ways, Noah has been preparing for his future role since he was very small.
Visits to farms and zoos, Steve Irwin DVDs and the movie, Jurassic Park all influenced him.
His family has always had at least one non-human animal—with around 20 at the moment.
Dogs, a variety of birds, a blue-tongue lizard, sheep, alpacas and two cats keep life interesting for the Davies family.
And then there’s Noah’s snake.
Obtaining a license to keep a snake includes annual reports to wildlife officers—and of course, convincing your parents in the first place.
Noah’s snake, ‘Nyoka’, which means ‘snake’ in Swahili, is a young olive python.
Considered to be calm, curious and, yes, even friendly, Nyoka will grow to be around four-metres long, weigh around 20 kg and live for between 15 and 20 years.
Olive pythons are non-venomous, however Nyoka can and will bite, as Noah discovered when he made the error of picking her up while she was still asleep!
“She seemed to realise at the last second it was me,” he says. “Her fangs barely pierced the skin.”
While Noah is happy in the company of virtually any creature, it’s no surprise his dream job would be to work in reptile conservation.
How Noah drags himself away to attend classes is anyone’s guess!
Though he was comfortable at his previous college, his parents (who are BSSC alumni) offered him the opportunity to complete his VCE at Bendigo Senior.
“I still struggle to call my teachers by their first names, but I love the freedom to be in charge of my learning,” Noah says. “I like expressing my individuality through what I wear.”
For Noah, that includes a large collection of movie merchandise caps and t-shirts.
Noah describes BSSC as a “fresh start” that opened his eyes to diversity—of people and ideas—and reconnected him with old friends from primary school.
“I’ve got a great group of friends here and have recommended the college to quite a few people,” he says. “The biggest challenge has been the step-up in workload. “You need to be really committed from the first day and keep on top of the work as much as possible.”
That’s also Noah’s study tip: “Get on top of tasks before they snowball out of control.”
“I’m a very visual learner,” he says. “I use mind maps, sketch concepts and almost always have music playing in the background.”
Noah’s music tastes are wide and varied. He also loves art and enjoys drawing—mostly in pencil. Unfortunately art has taken a back seat as Noah concentrates on his studies.
If he could go back in time and talk to his younger self, he would encourage young Noah not to be held back by fears that could stop him being his best self.
“I’d say, ‘don’t worry about things—be happy’.”
These days, Noah says he’s most grateful for the faith, family and friends he has in his life.
“I couldn’t ask for a better family,” he says. “At my 18th birthday party I was almost in tears as I looked around and realised my life was blessed and filled with so many wonderful people.”