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  • Writer's pictureAnnie DuPre

Why I want to be a field guide: what inspires Bushwise students

Updated: Dec 18, 2023

By: Annie DuPre and the current Bushwise field guide students

We asked Bushwise students: “Why do you want to be a field guide?” Their answers were as diverse as they were similar. What follows is a combination of their responses, unified into one story which showcases their joint passion for conservation, the desire to make a difference, and a love of nature.

Finding my path

I’ve always known I was destined to work in the field of conservation. I’ve gone through many stages in my life, school and work, but realised I wasn’t yet on the right path. It’s fair to say the idea of becoming a field guide had been simmering in my brain for a couple of years, but it seemed so crazy. My heart always belonged in nature – to be free and to just live. That was when I found Bushwise.

Childhood inspiration

Since I was little I’ve loved being in nature. Playing outside, looking for bugs under rocks, and trying to find different species. Being in nature and seeing and hearing animals is just amazing. The bush has always been my safe haven, a place to experience nature at its finest. Nature has always felt like one of the only places where I could “breathe.”

A Bushwise student meditates on a rock

Photo by: Louise Pavid

As I grew older and spent more time indoors, TV and YouTube filled the void of my nature-loving thirst. I would watch Steve Irwin, National Geographic, the Sunday Safari, David Attenborough, and Animal Planet. I’ve been inspired by them for as long as I can remember. They sparked an interest in conservation and furthered my love for nature, even when I was sitting in my room studying or working.

Needing a change of pace

I’ve never been a “sit behind a desk” kind of person. During lockdown in 2020, I found myself questioning my current career trajectory. I wasn’t satisfied that my life was headed in the direction I wanted. Did I really want to be stuck in an office? I decided to search for the real reason  why I was put on this earth.

I’ve always imagined myself working in the bush. I never knew what I would do, but I knew the bush was for me. I would rather spend the rest of my life in the fresh air than stuck in a town. Coming to the bush was like entering a whole new world. Every single day is different with more stories. Every single day is more special and unique

Passion for conservation

A rhino mother and calf

Photo by: Louise Pavid

I have always had a strong drive for conservation. I knew I should take the opportunity to learn more about nature and wildlife so one day I could teach other people about the beauty of the outdoors. Conservation of nature was my main aim, but I understood that in order to have more knowledge, I needed to start by learning from the point of view of a field guide.

Ultimately, I want to be a field guide because I love nature. I love to learn and I hope to help people see what amazing things we have in the natural world. Through being a field guide I hope to make a positive impact on peoples’ lives – helping them fall even more in love with nature by helping them understand it better.

Wanting to make a difference

Field guide students in a safari vehicle with mountains in the background

Photo by: Louise Pavid

In my career I want to make some sort of difference in this world. I want my work to inspire a passion for wildlife and conservation in my guests. I want to show people how vulnerable wildlife is and share my knowledge about the amazing animals we have in the southern parts of Africa. I want to be a voice for the voiceless and stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.

I decided on field guiding because not only can I learn more about wildlife, but I can also teach, inform, and share that knowledge with people around me. Guides can instil in guests a deeper appreciation of nature and conservation. I want to be able to share my knowledge and build experiences for guests, allowing them to create similar joyful memories they can look back on. The ability to open peoples’ eyes and let them embrace the euphoria nature has to offer sounds like a perfect job for me.

I want to do something with my life that makes me happy. I want to be fulfilled in my career. I love the bush, I love being outdoors. I love the sights, the smells, the sounds. Every day is an adventure. It is my happy place. By becoming a field guide, I can have a full-time job doing something that I am extremely passionate about. To be somewhere I love was the obvious answer – to return to nature, my happy place, and stay!

What I love most about this experience

A snake handler holds a boomslang with a snake stick

Photo by: Louise Pavid

Every morning I wake up to the birds tweeting and chirping. I then close my eyes and listen to all the animals around me. I am living a life that many dream of but may never have the chance to pursue. I love sharing my experiences and knowledge with people, and learning from them in the process.

Not many people get the opportunity to be woken by the sound of a laughing hyena or the roar of a lion. Being quiet and silent in nature, surrounded by wildlife – this is where communication takes place without any words. I feel most alive living among lions and listening to the hyenas “whooping” at night.

I’ve asked myself a lot why I want to become a field guide – and now I know this is something I was meant to do. So here I am, chasing a lifelong dream, hoping that this will finally make me feel like I belong, and that I am making a difference in preserving this beautiful place we call home. I am already sure that this is where I want to be for the rest of my life. My only wish is that I can love nature as much as she deserves.

Why Bushwise Field Guides?

A Bushwise field guide's vehicle with a sunset in the background

Photo by: Annie DuPre

Bushwise is an institution that will build on my formal knowledge and equip me with the skills and experience I need to make a difference in this world. My goal is to create a love for the bush with all my guests, to encourage them to look after all that nature has to offer, and to conserve this wildlife for future generations. Bushwise will be my stepping stone in achieving this goal.

So you asked, “Why do you want to be a field guide?” The answer is easy: It’s in my blood!

Thank you to all the Bushwise students who contributed to this story: Amelia, Ben, Brody, Charlie, Danelle, Divan, Elmar, Franco, Gareth, Hannah, Heindre, Janine, Jaundre, Jordan, Joshua, Kelly, Kieth, Laura, Lauren, Leigh, Luke, Marc, Marlene, Matthew, Oryx, Petri, Rian, Saki, Suvania , Tasia, Tiaan, Wana, and Wes.

Does this story speak to you? Have you always wanted to become a field guide, but hesitated to take a plunge? Apply today and fulfil your dream!

Did this blog speak to you? Have you always wanted to work with animals – but aren’t sure how? Get started with jobs working with animals.


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