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  • Louise Pavid

Celebrating the newest class of Bushwise graduates

Updated: Nov 13, 2023

We’re taking a moment to celebrate our Bushwise graduates – a group of incredible individuals who have just completed their six-month Professional Field Guide course. As they head on to the next stage of their career, Bushwise’s Louise Pavid bids them farewell with this thoughtful story.

Six short months ago, 34 fresh new faces arrived to take on a training experience designed to give them the best head start to their careers in wildlife.

A student looks towards a dam with a hippo, while holding binoculars.

Needless to say, the adventure that awaited them is one they won’t soon forget! It included iconic African animals, first aid training, snake handling, expert 4×4 training, advanced rifle handling and so much more!

The first semester kicked off with all the basics, an introduction to field guiding, the basics of vehicle checks and of course orienting around the wilderness that surrounds the two beautiful campuses.

Bushwise students walking alongside a dam.

Once the basics were done and dusted, the students then got a chance in the hot seat, and by hot seat I mean driver’s seat. It’s one thing to enjoy a safari experience from the high-tiered benches of a game viewer, it’s quite another to be the one responsible for delivering that experience.

And so the weeks sped by as our students practised their guiding, learnt about all things great and small, from lions to lapwings, no literal or figurative stone was left unturned or unexplored. As the students’ knowledge grew, so did their passion for wildlife and their bonds of friendship and support.

A student shows a guide book to other Bushwise students, on his assessment drive.

One thing is for sure, giving up everything you’ve known to live with a bunch of strangers in the wild for six months while training to take on your future career takes courage. It’s also, almost, a given that no matter who you are or where you are from, having a common interest and desire to achieve something brings people together.

By the fourth and fifth semesters, everyone was ready to take on their assessments, both practical and theoretical. From writing their FGASA Apprentice Field Guide exam and game drive assessments to completing their advanced rifle handling and trails exam, all of our students worked hard to get where they are today and we couldn’t be prouder of them.

One of the Bushwise students taking aim at a paper target with a rifle during training.

It’s fair to say that once our students completed all aspects of their training there was a large and collective sigh of relief. Not in a bad way. More in a “we’re finally where we want to be and have earned ourselves a little break before embarking on our career” kind of way. The buzz of excitement was tangible as everyone arrived at the beautiful Blue Mountain Restaurant for their graduation celebration.

Happy Bushwise graduates enjoying an afternoon celebration.

The students arrived in their graduation best, grinning from ear to ear. The staff’s warm smiles reflected the common sense of nostalgia that envelopes us all when celebrating the achievements and the final day of our students’ time with us at Bushwise.

Students learning track and sign, looking at the sandy ground and checking animal tracks.

Head trainers Vaughan and Francois stood proudly as they handed out certificates to each student, recognising the hard work and dedication that went into their training and qualifications. Sophie, co-founder and director of Bushwise, gave an impactful speech about the important work the once students, now field guides, will go on to do in the safari, ecotourism and conservation industries.

Bushwise trainer Wayne instructs students in a game viewer on a training activity.

We celebrated our top academic achievers and our amazing allrounders. We raised glasses, clapped our hands and danced the day away. Eventually the time came to say goodbye, we shuffled to our respective vehicles and made our way back to campus to finish off a night of celebration around the fire.

A game viewer full of students sits in the background, with the Birmingham pride of lions laying in the grass in the foreground.

The following morning was full of tearful farewells, long hugs and supportive words of encouragement as everyone finally set off on their different career paths. No matter what direction a Bushwise graduate takes once their course is complete, it’s safe to say that lifelong friendships, experiences and fond memories will live on in the work and dedication of each of our alumni as they forge their pathway in their career with wildlife.  

As the January-June 2022 class of Bushwise field guides graduate, we wish them the best of luck in the next stage in their journey. Are you ready to follow their footsteps? Apply today!


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