It’s no secret that American students have been a little behind the curve in embracing the concept of taking a “gap” year before starting or after graduating from college. This is slowly changing, with many young people realizing that taking a year to experience something completely different and totally out of their comfort zone allows them to grow as a person and have an experience they treasure for the rest of their lives.
EcoTraining offers well-defined and developed gap year programs in the African bush that not only expose participants to life in the wild, but can also give them a professional qualification. The original wilderness guide training school of South Africa, EcoTraining boasts the largest, most bio-diverse footprint in Africa, with courses in six wildlife reserves in four countries.
We should also point out that agents get a commission for booking college gap year programs and other EcoTraining courses.
Professional Field Guide
This one-year course provides a well-rounded gap year ranging from accredited environmental education and life skills, to adventure and inspiration — at our wilderness camps in big game areas like Makuleke (northern Kruger National Park), Karongwe Game Reserve, Selati Game Reserve and Mashatu Game Reserve (Botswana).
And at the end of the course, successful participants are FGASA- and CATHARSES-qualified professional field guides with firearm proficiency certification, navigation and orientation proficiency, and Level 1 and 2 Wilderness Medicine trained. In other words, ready and able to take safari lodge guests from all over the world on walking and driving safaris, finding and pointing out wildlife, and teaching guests about the animals and ecosystems along the way. Courses start in January, August, September and October of 2018.
If a whole gap year sounds is more than your clients can commit to, EcoTraining also offers two shorter courses.
FGASA Trails Guide
Participants explore the wilderness of the Makuleke Concession in Kruger National Park or Mashatu in the Northern Tuli Reserve of Botswana on foot during FGASA-accredited 28-day course.
With the majority of time spent on bush walks in big game country, this course is sure to increase your environmental knowledge and appreciation as well as animal identification, situational awareness and animal behavior.
The aim of this course is to develop and practice skills and gain knowledge to attain the FGASA Trails Guide Back-up qualification. Depending on how prepared students are, they can also attain an Advanced Rifle Handling (ARH) qualification. This course is being offered in January, April, May, June, July and November of 2018.
FGASA Field Guide Level 1/NQF 2
This 55-day program is designed to form the foundation for a career in field guiding (and many other wildlife-orientated careers) but is also open to gap-year participants. It offers a solid base of knowledge and practical skills in the environmental and wildlife sectors including universal principals of ecology, ecosystems, animal behavior, astronomy, guest interaction, conservation and more, using a mix of formal lectures and time in the field.
Among the many subjects covered by the course are the planning of game drives and walks, navigation and orientation, radio procedures, ecology, geology and soil, weather and climate, animal behavior, identification of plants and animals. This course is offered in January, March, April, May, August, September and October of next year.