FGASA

Bushwise field guide courses are based
on the official FGASA syllabus

FGASA

Bushwise field guide courses are based
on the official FGASA syllabus

Course structure

The Field Guides Association of South Africa (FGASA) Apprentice Field Guide (NQF2) qualification allows a field guide to achieve the ability to identify the major living, and non-living features of the natural environment in which s/he operates. You’ll be able to interpret them at a level based mainly on observation, from an elementary scientific and cultural perspective. As a general guideline, a field guide (NQF2) has a sound knowledge of the history, geology, and fauna and flora in a specific area of guiding operation. Bushwise has a course structure in place that ensures we are aligned with the FGASA objectives. The course varies between classroom-based theory and practical sessions.

The proportions will depend on the module and course requirements. The course has been carefully put together to achieve an even balance between theory and practice.

Bushwise offers so much more than just the Apprentice Field Guide accreditation.

With us, you’ll go beyond the foundations offered in a standard FGASA syllabus – additional experiences and skills related to guiding; essential life skills and qualifications arm each student with the attributes to be considered a cut above the rest in the industry. We pride ourselves on our ‘Students @ heart’ policy, with courses developed over time, so they aren’t only enjoyable and informative, but ensure the employability of our students. Bushwise graduates walk into their chosen careers with confidence and the respected Bushwise name behind them.

The first three months of the program are focused on empowering you with knowledge of the bush,
through both practical drives and lectures. Each week will focus on a different module to shape you into a well-rounded field guide. At the end of each week, all students are tested on that week’s module before moving onto the next one. The 23-week program is divided into four-week blocks, with a week off to rest between each block.

Overview

FGASA Apprentice Field Guide (NQF2) Certificate consists of the following outcomes:

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  • The field guide is able to conduct a guided nature experience in a limited geographical area.
  • The field guide is able to create a guided experience for customers.

Compulsory learning materials provided by Bushwise when you sign up:

  • The Nature Guide Learner Manual – Grant & Gillie Hine
  • The Guiding Skills Manual – Grant Hine
  • The FGASA Field Guide (NQF2) Study Guide Learner Workbook

Recommended books to improve your knowledge:

  • Beat about the Bush (Mammals) – Trevor Carnaby
  • Beat about the Bush (Birds) – Trevor Carnaby
  • Grasses & Grazers of Botswana and the surrounding Savanna – Veronica Roodt
  • Guide to Grasses of Southern Africa – Fritz van Oudtshoorn
  • The Story of Life & the Environment – Jo Van As. et al
  • Tracks and Signs – Lee Gutteridge and Louis Liebenberg

Each module is assessed through:

  • workbook completion
  • theory examination
  • practical assessment.

FGASA modules

The following modules with their specific outcomes are covered on the course. For each topic, you’ll attend a lecture. The lecture is supported by practical sessions during the next two weeks. This ensures the knowledge is embedded in your memory.

1) Creating a guided nature experience

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You will learn about:

  • people management and interpersonal relationships
  • establishing and attending to the needs, limitations, and expectations of guests
  • planning and creating a guided experience using local natural heritage resources with avoidance of simple stereotyping
  • interpretation techniques and presentation skills
  • developing professional values and ethics to ensure sustainable tourism.

2) Conducting a guided nature experience in a limited geographical area

2.1) Geology

  • You will learn about the structure of the earth and the geology of the area of operation.
  • You will learn about the formation of common rock types, their characteristics, and the interrelationships between rocks, soil, climate, and vegetation.
  • You will learn about highlighting and interpreting distinctive geological features in the area.

2.2) Weather and climate

  • You will learn about the general climate and weather patterns of South Africa.
  • You will learn about wind conditions, their origin and their impact.
  • You will learn about cloud formations and associated weather.
  • You will learn about general climatic conditions and their influences on weather systems.

2.3) Astronomy

  • You will learn about identifying prominent stars, planets, and constellations.
  • You will learn about myths and legends surrounding phenomena found in the night skies.

2.4) Ecology

  • You will learn about animal behaviour patterns, and ecological principles.
  • You will learn about identifying special plants, and their ecological associations.
  • You will learn about pollination associations.
  • You will learn about energy flow in ecosystems.

2.5) Plants and grasses

  • You will learn about the practical identification of indicator trees, grasses, shrubs, and flowers.
  • You will learn about myths and legends surrounding the origin of names of various species of plants.
  • You will learn about the medicinal uses of certain plants.
  • You will learn about cultural beliefs around certain plants.

2.6) Arthropods

  • You will learn about species identification and classification of anthropods, at an elementary scientific level.

2.7) Fish

  • You will learn about the identification of common species of fish.
  • You will learn about the anatomy of fish.
  • You will learn about the roles fish play in an ecosystem.

2.8) Animals

  • You will learn about the identification, feeding, behaviour, breeding, predation, avoidance, and courtship behaviour of animals.

3) Conservation management

You’ll learn about:

  • explaining and demonstrating various conservation practices used in the natural environment
  • practices such as bush encroachment, the use of fire as a management tool, erosion control, and more.

4) Historical human habitation

You’ll learn about:

  • identifying and explaining evidence of human habitation
  • the cultural history of your area of practice
  • demonstrating the use of ancient artifacts

5) Driving skills and basic mechanics

You’ll learn about:

  • the safe use of equipment, such as heavy-duty jacking devices, puncture repairs, changing of flat tyres, and checking fluid levels
  • the basic and advanced driving techniques used over rough terrain
  • the ethical use of a spotlight
  • the best method for approaching dangerous game by vehicle and on foot.

6) 4x4 training

You’ll learn about:

  • the techniques for operating a safari vehicle in off-road conditions, through in-depth training
  • the steps to take to recover vehicles in muddy conditions
  • the emergency actions that must be used for situations such as mechanical breakdowns in dangerous animal territory.

7) Hospitality and hosting basics in a lodge environment

You’ll learn about:

  • wine pairing
  • table setups for sundowner stops and morning coffee breaks
  • hosting etiquette and tips.

8) Rifles and rifle handling

You’ll learn about:

  • the theory of rifle-use
  • building muscle memory and instilling safety awareness through extensive “dry run drills”
  • the live fire accuracy and speed of rifles, through practising under strict supervision.

9) Bush first aid skills

You’ll learn through:

  • an intensive combination of lectures and practical training of first aid techniques, for three days before the assessment
  • weekly first aid staged scenarios, both on campus and in the reserve, managed by staff.

10) Tracking (Cybertracker Track and Sign)

You’ll learn about:

  • the identification of animal, bird and invertebrate tracks
  • the identification of signs of feeding
  • the identification of droppings
  • the identification of territorial markings.

11) Wildlife photography

You’ll learn about:

  • basic photography techniques
  • use of lighting, focus and composition
  • the techniques to position a safari vehicle on a game drive for the best guest experience.