Guinea Pig

Enterprising teens set sights on dream jobs

BRADEN FASTIER / STUFFAnimal lover Lexi Bowers, 15, pictured with Sophie the lamb, cares for local animals in need and has saved 600 chickens.One has her own animal rescue service; the other is running a café – two Nelson teenagers are bringing their youthful energy to jump start potential careers. At just 15, Alexia Bowers takes care of dozens of animals in need, including getting up at all hours of the night to feed rescue lamb Sophie. She also works part-time in a restaurant, fitting it all around her studies with the aim of becoming a vet. She officially opened The Little Animal Rescue on her family’s three-acre property in Ruby Bay, Tasman two years ago; but says she has always had a reputation in the area as being “the girl who takes on animals”. The service looks after a variety of creatures from the disabled to the rehabilitated, including a chicken with a specially designed wheelchair, rabbits, guinea pigs, a blind sheep, a deaf pig and a half-blind horse. All have been given names and many are considered part of the family. Alexia already has plenty of qualifications to run the rescue service, and is working on gettign more.BRADEN FASTIER/StuffAnimal lover Lexi Bowers, 15, cares for local animals in need and is currently studying Animal Management and Majoring in Captive Wildlife. Last year she completed an animal care qualification at the Southern Institute of Technology and this year she’s studying Animal Management, majoring in captive animals at Auckland’s Unitec Institute of Technology. She said that study was “the in-between, doing a couple of diplomas before I do my degree”. The plan is to attend Massey’s School of Veterinary Science once she turns 18. The cost of running the rescue comes out of Alexia’s pocket, often adding up to nearly $300 a week for food alone, not including horse hay, medical bills, bedding and enrichment toys. When they’re not getting veterinary care from the various vets in the region, they’re getting natural care at the facility, which Bowers said went “hand in hand with all the conventional medicine”. One success involved an eight-year-old chicken with a broken leg. She said the vet was doubtful the fowl would recover but along with antibiotics, Bowers soaked the leg in comfrey twice a day for a month and continued to cast it. “She made a full recovery, you wouldn’t even know it was broken.”BRADEN FASTIER/StuffRosie the hen sometimes needs the help of a wheelchair to get around. Bowers manages everything, but she said she couldn’t do it without the support of her mum and step-dad, especially when it came to driving the animals to vet visits and picking up new additions. “The agreement from a young age with my parents was if I could afford to have them myself, as long as I pay for everything that they need, and care for them myself, I could essentially get whatever [needed help].” While Bowers saves animals, she credited the animals for rescuing her. ”It became essential for me to do this for my own wellbeing in the end – they rescue me more often than I rescue them. They’re just awesome.” Visit Bowers Givealittle page to donate towards the costs of new facilities at the rescue. Maddison Kerr, 17, was already full of teenage angst when Covid-19 hit, dealing her a blow of unemployment after working two jobs.BRADEN FASTIER/StuffMaddison Kerr, 17 is starting her own cafe ‘Mad as Sins Coffee’ based at an existing premises in Richmond after losing her job during Covid lockdown. The Nelson teen said it got her down. “I was like, I’m not going to go anywhere in life, this sucks, no one wants to hire me.” But her luck turned when she got an interview for a kitchen hand/ front of house job at the Richmond Roast House. She had no idea that the meeting with the boss, Gary Higgins would have her managing her own cafe, Mad As Sins Coffee, named with her mum during a brainstorming session. During the interview with Higgins, she said he noticed she had completed a New Zealand Certificate in Food and Beverage Service Barista and Café Services at Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology. When he said to her “I’m just brainstorming here but I see you have qualifications in making coffee … would you want your own business inside the Roast House?” – she was shocked and excited by the possibility. It had been a whirlwind couple of months, she said including meetings, coffee tastings, forming business relationships, brainstorming ideas and creating her own signage design. Running her own business was something she had never imagined doing, especially at just 17. ”It’s been a mission but I’m so close to the finish line. It still doesn’t feel real. ”I’ve been handed this opportunity on a silver platter … I’m just going to grab it with both hands and run with it.” Mad As Sins Coffee opened on August 3 at Richmond Roast House, 309 Queen Street, Richmond. Stuff
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