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Blog: From The Field

Matthew Bouwkamp, the lovable Backwoods, Bayou Boy from Miami, Florida, has been fascinated by and has felt protective over wildlife ever since he was a kid. “Ever since I was a little kid, I was always the kid bringing the snakes home, “Mom can I keep it?!” Matt finished his studies in Wildlife Rehabilitation. In September 2017, Matt joined EcoTraining’s yearlong Professional Field Guide course along with his friend, James, who suggested the course. Now traversing through the koppies of Mashatu in Botswana, Matt is gaining practical hours of experience and encounters towards acquiring his lead trails qualification by working as a back-up field guide for EcoTraining. “It’s definitely given my life a new inspiration to push on.” says Matt. Like many people, Matt found himself caught up in a well-paying job and felt himself getting further and further away from his life’s passion: conservation. Coming to Africa was a life’s dream for Matt. What we naturally do as children often sets the tone for what we are destined to do as adults. Some know right away and spend their teenage years honing the skills they need for a career in their passion. Some never realise their purpose and suffer a lifetime of mediocracy and discontentment. Worst of all, there are many human beings of this world know what they’re destined to do but create too many excuses around why they can’t. It’s the truly brave ones who find themselves far along a path, only to admit and accept that they’ve pushed aside their passion and are living an inauthentic life. Matt is one of the brave ones; he left his stable career in order to return to his roots, back to his passion. Matt is now free and easy; he is living out his passion. After his year at EcoTraining, he hopes to go into conservation and anti-poaching. Just like when he was a kid, he wants to spend his life saving and protecting animals. Cheers to passion. Cheers to an authentic life. And cheers to the brave ones.

“The Brave Ones” - Matthew Bouwkamp

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Matt finished his studies in Wildlife Rehabilitation, but never had the opportunity to do what he loves, until now. It took him six years, working in construction, to realise what he has been missing. Here he is now, living his dream in wild Africa as a Professional Field Guide.
If you can remember, towards the end of last year EcoTraining ran an exciting and educational radio programme on Pretoria FM. EcoTraining’s very own instructors Jan Hendrik, Quentin Swanevelder and Jasper Visser were guest speakers on the show called ‘Veldfeite met EcoTraining’ with the show’s host, Pienaar Lochner exploring topics about ecology, bush myths, dangerous game approach and much more. We also ran a bush quiz competition in conjunction with the show and our reigning winner of the 7-day EcoQuest Course turned out to be 13-year-old Willie junior Conradie. His knowledge and participation on the show proved without a doubt that he was a worthy winner. Winner Willie Conradie Jnr has lived with his grandmother and grandfather Mr. Willie Conradie Snr since birth. He attends high school at Hoërskool Hans Strijdom in Mookgopong (Naboomspruit) and stays in the school hostel. Since Willie Jnr was too young to visit the bush unaccompanied, we invited his grandfather to join him. Overwhelmed with gratitude and excitement to bond with his grandson on an adventure in the bush, he accepted. EcoTraining sent Willie Jnr and Snr on a road trip to Makuleke camp with… can you guess?... Our media man, Willie van Eeden! I mean, what are the chances?! The EcoQuest took place from 25th to 31st March and we hear that Willie Jnr stole the hearts and respect of EcoTraining staff. His politeness towards others and eager admiration for the bush encompasses all that we try to achieve here at EcoTraining.

What's better than hanging out with Grandpa in the bush?

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This story is a special tribute to grandfathers on Father’s Day. This is a heart-warming story of a grandfather, his grandson and an adventure in the African wilderness!

A wilderness Photographer who became a professional Field Guide

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People come to EcoTraining for a variety of reasons. Some want to become safari guides. Some want a gap year of adventure. Some just want to learn. Then you get some who want to be better photographers.

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We share some lessons from great father figures in the bird kingdom. Happy Father's Day to all the great Fathers out there #fathersday2018
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Today we are celebrating Father's Day with a heartwarming grandfather and grandson story. Read all about it here https://t.co/4pYGeS1zZ5 #fathersday2018 @PretoriaFM

Listen to this week's 'Bits and Bites from the bush' as @rosshawkins2812 talks about the beautiful scenery & special characteristics of Lanner Gorge, Kruger National Park #makuleke #africa #specialplaces https://t.co/nIqumOgt9P

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