Scotland’s Rural College officially opened the doors to new £350,000 Animal Care and Gamekeeping facilities at its Elmwood campus today.
The facilities have brought new life to the campus by refurbishing underused space and providing more room for students to learn practical skills and develop their careers.
The facilities were officially opened by local MSP, Willie Rennie.
The Animal Care facilities include a new dog-grooming parlour and training area. With dedicated spaces for reptiles, fish, rodents and birds, students will gain hands-on experience with over 100 different animals. There is also an outdoor ferret run and space to care for ponies.
To enhance their outdoor teaching, the Gamekeeping students will now train in new chilled preparation areas and have space to incubate and breed game birds.
Currently more than 120 students are enrolled on Animal Care-related courses, with another 16 studying Gamekeeping. The new facilities will allow SRUC to welcome even more students in the future.
The local community and businesses have been involved, donating aquarium tanks and equipment for the new facilities. The college hopes to expand in the future with new short courses, particularly in dog grooming.
Schools are also welcome to arrange a visit so pupils can have practical demonstrations in Gamekeeping and Animal Care.
Kirstie Hardie, Animal Care Team Leader, said: ‘Our students love the new facilities. They have so many more opportunities to work with different animals. Elmwood’s doors are always open to people who want to work with animals, and we are looking forward to increasing our course provision and working with the community in the future.’
Jim Goodlad, Gamekeeping lecturer, said: ‘Across Scotland, SRUC Gamekeeping students are the modern face of gamekeeping and wildlife management. They will manage some of Scotland’s iconic flora and fauna, and its most beautiful landscapes. The new facilities will enable students to enhance and develop their skills with associated best practice.’
Mr Rennie said: ‘It is very encouraging to see significant investment at Elmwood which will give confidence to staff, students and the local community that it has a bright future.
‘This new investment combined with the expertise in Animal Care and Gamekeeping at Elmwood will help provide skilled students to work in these important sectors.’
SRUC delivers Gamekeeping through Modern Apprenticeships and at National Certificate level. Students can choose to work in the industry, or alternatively, further their progression by accessing related courses such as Countryside Management.
Animal Care students can study up to degree level and many start their own businesses, work with local companies, or go into further study to build a career in allied veterinary professions with SRUC.