Sep 2022 / Learners

Animal lover Caitlyn Smart wasn’t sure of her next step after leaving school, but she’s just been appointed as Ambassador at Jamie’s Farm in Monmouthshire, after impressing staff!

The 17-year-old said a trip there hugely boosted her confidence. The five-night stay was part of the Jobs Growth Wales+ (JGW+) programme, delivered by ACT, Wales’ leading training provider.

Having grown up “surrounded by pets”, she said her Level 1 Land Based Studies qualification, in the JGW+ programme, is “perfect” for her and her ambition to work with animals.

JGW+ is a training and development programme specifically for 16–18-year-olds looking for the skills, qualifications, and experience to find employment.

“When I first got to Jamie’s Farm I was very nervous,” she said. “I had just started my course, so I didn’t really know anyone. I was a bit homesick, but soon I really enjoyed it and I didn’t want to go home! I think this was because of meeting new people and making new friends – plus being around animals! There were cows, pigs, horses, sheep, chickens and more!”

Caitlyn feels the residential trip to Jamie’s Farm, which provides farming therapy experiences to help young people thrive, had a transformative effect!

I’m definitely more confident with speaking to people now. I used to be very shy and didn’t want to talk to anyone. Now I’m happy to!

Staff at the farm were so impressed with Caitlyn’s personal growth, they selected her for the role of Ambassador. Each Ambassador is chosen having demonstrated potential and shown exceptional leadership skills. Jamie’s Farm runs five separate sites, including Monmouthshire, Bath and Hereford, and the young Ambassadors of each site meet regularly to share ideas.

Harley Clarke, Animal Care Tutor at ACT, said Caitlyn has developed greatly since starting the JGW+ programme and she’s often selected as a mentor for new learners at ACT’s Cardiff Skills Academy, on Hadfield Road.

She explained: “During her five-night stay at Jamie’s Farm, Caitlyn made new lifelong friends, developed her confidence and knew that working with animals was what she wanted to do.”

As part of her course, Caitlyn has also been working at Walnut Tree Farm Park, outside Newport, where she answers customer questions about the farm’s many horses, cows, sheep and even alpacas.

Caitlyn thoroughly recommends ACT and the JGW+ programme to anyone who is unsure of their options after school, especially if they’re interested in animals.

“Young people should definitely try JGW+ programme, especially if they like working with animals. It will help you become more confident with others, as you have to work in a group. Before the course, I was very shy and didn’t really want to talk to anyone, but now I’m a lot more confident with speaking to all different people!”

To find out more about Jobs Growth Wales+ and other opportunities available at ACT, click here.