Four students from the Grootbos Foundation’s ‘Green Futures Field Guiding Training Programme’ passed their FGASA (Field Guiding Association of South Africa) level-1 exam, which, upon completion of additional practical hours, enables them to officially guide tourist groups on their own. These talen-ted individuals, who include Anchelle Damon, Daveline Phillips, Delano Mauers & Siyavuya Twala, celebrated their achievement by giving a presentation, sharing what they have learned, to the children of Masakhane and Blompark, at the Spaces for Sports Centre in Gansbaai.
The students spend a year at Grootbos Private Nature Reserve studying FGASA theory and engaging in practical fieldwork ranging from horse grooming and beekeeping to trail guiding and floral safaris. Just before their examinations, they attended a highly challenging two-week training course run by Louis Willemse of Afritracks, an official provider of field guide training, that accelerated their learning and broadened their hands-on experience in order to increase their overall preparation and readiness for the examination. The Afritracks course was an initiative of the Grootbos Foundation, which fully sponsored these trainees. Joining our Grootbos Foundation students in this two-week course were Bongani Mjokweni & Nashlin Groe-newald from Grootbos Lodge, Eugene Gordon from Flower Valley, and Jan Rabe from Fynbos Retreat, all of whom were also partly sponsored by the Grootbos Foundation. Fynbos Retreat kindly provided accommodation for all of the trainees during the course at a vastly reduced rate.
This field guiding training programme was established as part of the Grootbos Foundation’s goal and commitment to help provide sustainable livelihoods in nature-based tourism within the local region. Ms. Susan Lochner, the head of the Grootbos Foundation’s Green Futures College, is the course administrator and has been successfully driving the FGASA mentorships for over four years. Ms. Lochner, a FGASA level-1 guide and qualified schoolteacher, shares her passion and enthusiasm for personal growth and development by serving as a shining example to both the trainees and the current guides. With her help, along with the help of everyone who makes this programme possible, previous trainee guides from the Grootbos Foundation’s ‘Green Futures Field Guide Training Programme’ have succeeded in finding permanent employment at the Grootbos Lodges and within other eco-tourism ventures throughout the Western Cape.