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The importance of being above average

Becoming the best field guide that you could possibly be is probably one of the most important goals any field guide or ranger can set for themselves. Becoming a field guide, in itself is not that hard, but it requires passion. Becoming one of the best in the industry is a whole other ball game. When I first decided to take on the world of field guiding, I was told that if I am not planning on being the best or at least working towards it, that I would be wasting my time. 

Today I am 27 years old and still many miles and years away from becoming a top field guide or trainer in the industry but working towards it is has been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. As an individual, you must consistently challenge and push yourself to be the best, if you reach a comfort zone and become bored with going through the everyday phases, you will soon just become another number in the industry. Being a field guide is one of the most fascinating and entertaining jobs to have where your office has no walls, it generally stretches over a few thousand hectares and you NEVER know what the day holds. Not knowing what your office could present you with means you need to know enough and be updated with the most recent research and ‘bush’ knowledge, so you seldom or never need to answer a question with “I do not know”.

Here at Bushwise Field Guides, Apprentice Field Guide students are provided with the guidance, lectures, knowledge, books and experience from a variety of field guide trainers. All have very different backgrounds and working experience. This allows the students to start moulding themselves into the field guides they would like to be one day. Typical days consist of 4-5 hour morning and afternoon sessions and enough time in between these sessions are provided so you can focus on single aspects of the bush you might find more interesting than the others.

Once you qualify as an Apprentice Field Guide, the world of guiding will prove that you possibly know more than the typical guest you might be guiding but never allow this to be enough. Push yourself to climb the qualification ladder by becoming as qualified as you could possibly be. There are so many options and directions one could take after completing your apprentice field guide qualification but your focus can never be lost. Whether your focus is birding, tracking, insects, botany, wildflowers, or any of the other options that are available you should never stop growing. With having the time of your life as a field guide, it is very easy to become comfortable in your role, therefore, set yearly goals and consistently work towards them.

FGASA (Field Guides Association of Southern Africa) has assisted more than 12 871 people, qualify as Field Guides. If you want to stand out amongst them, you need to work hard and have consistent dedication. Our world as field guides is so diverse and constantly changing with new research and information that becomes available to us – simply being average is never going to be enough.

There is absolutely no space for stagnation in this industry but is yet so easy to fall into, when you get too comfortable. Bushwise will allow you the greatest opportunity to be the best you could be but it is up to each individual to make the most of every single opportunity that comes your way.

Edward Smith

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