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Field guiding: FGASA practical assessment

Updated: Dec 19, 2023

Weeks of hard work and practice have led us to this point: FGASA practical assessment. Hours of practice driving, reading and studying the natural world around us culminates in each student leading a three-hour safari.

Photo blog by Louise Pavid

2 min read

A group of students preparing for their FGASA practical assessment by studying books and putting their knowledge to practice in the field.

FGASA practical assessment week is always the most hyped five days of our practical field guide training course. It’s one thing to repeat on paper what you read in the books, it’s quite another to apply those skills and knowledge to a guided experience.

Two students looking at the leaves of a tree, discussing the various ways you can identify different plants.

Our trainers and assessors will tell you it’s not easy judging how good a field guide is. And our students will tell you it’s not easy ticking off all the right boxes when it comes to proving yourself.

Bushwise trainer Pioneer explains something to a group of students as they prepare for their FGASA practical assessment.

The assessment criteria includes birds, bird calls, mammals, animal behaviour, botany, geology, astronomy, historical human habitation, reptiles, amphibians, arthropods and even fish (for all those amazing fish sightings you get in the savannah). But it goes so much deeper than that.

Students and a trainer stand around a large termite mound on a cool day in the African bush. 

A good guided experience doesn’t start and end with the regurgitation and rumination of bushveld facts. It also includes those always talked about “soft skills” and the impression of the experience your guests are left with.

One of the Bushwise students takes a short break while conducting his FGASA practical assessment drive to explain something to his guests using a book. 

Being a guide is more about people than anything else. Being a good host, being attentive to your guests’ needs and listening to those around you plays a bigger role than simply driving through the wild looking for your next sighting.

While on her FGASA practical assessment drive, a student pauses to let her guests enjoy a wonderful giraffe sighting.

And so it’s not as cut and dry as ticking off a checklist. Yes, you do need to have a certain level of understanding of the world around you, but you also need to understand the best way to share that with the people on the back of your vehicle.

Guests on a game drive standing around or sitting in a game viewer. 

Needless to say our students have done incredible things this assessment week and certainly went the extra mile when it came to catering to their guests’ needs.

A front view of a game viewer with students smiling and waving at the camera. 

We are so proud of all of you and can’t wait to see where your futures as field guides take you!

Even as they’re completing their FGASA practical assessment, Bushwise students are having fun. This could be you, soon – apply today to join Bushwise.

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