So, you have done it. You have completed your Field Guide training. Most likely it was a life-changing experience and left you with memories that will last a lifetime. So, what’s next?
Like me, you may end up being a professional in the safari industry because that’s what you trained for. You will spend your days immersed in nature and sharing your knowledge with those fortunate enough to visit our part of the world. But not everyone follows this path. Does that mean that they went through all that training to be left with just a few fond memories and some blisters on their toes?
Absolutely not. Training to be a field guide does more than set you up for a rich and rewarding career. It instils in every single student an innate understanding of the importance of nature for our survival, for our well-being and for our future. While your education will be focused on the African bushveld, the perspective on life and nature that you will gain is one that is missing from many modern societies. Simply put, it reminds us of the importance of natural spaces, how intricately linked they are with everything around us and that no matter where we live in the world, these spaces are fundamental to the progression of life on this planet.
A Deep Connection with Nature
This lesson, this deep connection with nature, cannot be learnt from a textbook or taught by word-of-mouth. It requires physical and mental presence along with an openness to the whole experience. But once the lesson has been learnt, it will be with you for the rest of your life. You may learn this in the African bushveld, but no matter where you go it will be with you. You may return to a country far from southern Africa, you may be presented with landscapes that are entirely different from those in which you trained to be a field guide. But with your new knowledge, you will value any natural space that you encounter as you have been gifted with an understanding of just how important these spaces are. Frankly, we need more people who think like that. Humans are becoming increasingly disconnected from the natural world; social media, consumerism and general day to day life cloud our minds. It pulls us away from acknowledging that none of us would be here if it wasn’t for nature.
So as your training comes to an end, don’t despair. You may be leaving the African bushveld. But its lessons will never leave you. This is the true value of a Field Guide Course. Every person who trains has experienced the natural world in its rawest form and will have changed because of this. Such a transformation encourages each past student to prioritise nature in their lives and to become a passionate conservationist. The more people we have who think like that, the better the world will be. Because at the end of the day,
“we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught” – Baba Dioum.
About the Author:
Lawrence Steyn a former EcoTraining student on our Apprentice 55-day Field Guide course.