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  • Writer's pictureBushwise Trainer

Reflections on the recent Bushwise class and their journey as Field Guides

Updated: May 29

This blog was written to the current graduating class of Bushwise field guides. It’s a farewell, good luck and see you again soon from Bushwise trainer Sophie Barrett.

This has been the largest simultaneous cohort of Bushwise students that we have ever had. To say that the training team had zero nerves about how this would turn out at the start would be as unreasonable as a flying warthog.

Preparing for Success: Welcoming the Largest Cohort of Bushwise Students


A Bushwise student holds up coffee carafes at a drinks stop, while other students mingle in the background under a beautiful African skyline in the savannah.

I can remember prepping to ensure a smooth start when the students first arrived. With 30 on the one campus, even handing out books had the potential to be unbridled chaos. Little did we know that our cunning plan to set out the books and label the desks with student names to allow that first session to run a bit smoother would dictate the seating habits of 30 field guides in training for the next six months.

The course can be intense and stressful at times, I am sure that the students would agree with me there is a huge amount to learn whether it is the rainfall and flagship species of the different biomes; or how to interpret previously invisible tracks on the ground; or how to identify a bird (or even a frog) by its call alone – there is limited time to catch your breath. 

And somehow in amongst all of this, the students are finding time to form bonds and friendships that will last them a lifetime.

Bittersweet Endings: Assessments Completed, Departures Looming

Bushwise students and trainers lined up in front of a dam in the Greater Kruger National Park. 

That makes the approaching end of the course bittersweet. With the assessments, both theory and practical, that have been a constant companion for our students finally out of the way, there is space to relax and revel in the wonders of the bush around them, but somehow also little to distract them from their approaching departure and separation. As a trainer, I cannot help but be excited for the students and the adventures that await them.

Our students stand at the edge of one of their most exciting adventures yet. They are about to join a world where they will find themselves at the heart of memories that will be spoken about all across the globe and treasured by their makers for years and years to come. 

Their daily office companions will include leopard cubs, rainbow coloured birds and therapeutic elephants, and the most exciting part for me is that every day – no matter how many years they spend in this industry – offers a chance for them to learn something new.

Privileged Mentors: Reflecting on the Growth of Apprentice Field Guides

Trainers Sophie and Fred stand close to the camera, with a group of Bushwise students in the background

As trainers it has been a privilege to have a part in the journey of all of our students. We are proud beyond words to see how they have grown and flourished into apprentice field guides and whilst the next step for our students is exciting, it can be intimidating too. I hope they know that they can continue to count on us for support, advice and mentorship and that they will share the highlights with us too! 

As we say goodbye to the students, we contend with a mixture of emotions: sadness to see our students leave; pride at their accomplishments; and excitement to share in their adventures going forwards as they continue to grow, develop and flourish in the industry.

One of the great joys of being a field guide is that there are endless possibilities ahead of you, and as we send our students into the world, we hope that they will be ambassadors and custodians for all of the incredible aspects of nature, helping us to protect and be amazed by it for years to come.

Learn from incredible trainers like Sophie, and make life-long memories of your own, on a Bushwise course.

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