I begin an online Nature Enthusiast course with Ulovane Environmental Training.

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"Running the first online course was pretty daunting but after a few hiccups here and there, everything ran smoothly! What a relief! We are now onto our third online course and I love running it more and more every time". Tatum Pretorius

 

 

I finally decided that trying to do an online course without set deadlines does not work for me! So, after years of trying and failing, I decided to tackle this 10-week theoretical course which is followed by a 5-week practical course. My wife is being very supportive of the former, I think that serious negotiations will have to be undertaken to get to the reserve to complete the practical aspect…but I still have time to work on my negotiation skills!

“The first week has been a steep learning curve for me as, although I get into the bush on a relatively regular basis, one of the subjects that we tackled on week one were not front of mind for me, geology. No real way to make rocks ‘exciting’. The night sky is another matter. For decades I have been promising myself that I would enhance my astrology knowledge. It seems like that time is now.

I did mention set outcomes and these are strictly adhered to within reason. Monday is a lecture about the upcoming assignments for the week. Assignments have to be handed in by Thursday and each week ends off with a timed quiz/exam/test (call it whatever makes you less stressed) on Sunday…And then the cycle starts all over again”.

 

 

With thanks to Rico for the use of this appropriate cartoon…

There is more to this course than just the Big 5, as I was to discover within the first two assignments, Geology and Astronomy. Meet the ‘team’ that is undertaking this journey together.

 

 

The leader of this pack…Schalk Pretorious. Passionate and enthusiastic about the planet and its inhabitants, he presents the course on a weekly basis. Watch the Zoom chat I had with Schalk before the course started.

 

 

 

 

Tatum Pretorious. Yes, she is related…she is Schalk’s daughter. She is the ‘Mother hen’ of the course. Keeping us all in check and making certain that the technology that runs the course is on track.

“My journey with Ulovane started the day I was born being Schalk & Candice’s daughter, I was bound to join the Ulovane Team sooner or later! Due to COVID, it turned out to be sooner than I expected but I am definitely not complaining!

After matriculating a few years ago, I completed my Apprentice Field Guide course through Ulovane. I then completed my practical placement in the Masai Mara where I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to volunteer in 3 bush camps for 4 months. This definitely changed the way I look at life and completely brought me out of my shell!

When I completed my 4 months in Kenya and moved back home, it wasn’t long after I found a position working at a 4-star hotel in Phalaborwa (random I know, but moving back home after 4 months of freedom was not really an option haha). I worked as a receptionist at first and after a few months, moved up to the reservations and marketing/social media team which was my goal!

Unfortunately, COVID hit about a month later… Fortunately enough though I did fit into the Ulovane team quite well when they realized they needed to implement an online course option because of the pandemic. Of course, being the youngest and apparently the most tech-savvy, I was given the project of creating the Ulovane E-learning platform. This was a huge challenge as I had hardly any experience in doing such things except for building basic websites. But, after 3 months of pulling my hair out, it finally went live! I could probably say this is the biggest thing I’ve ever really out into the world and I am so proud that I got to do it for Ulovane!

Running the first online course was pretty daunting but after a few hiccups here and there, everything ran smoothly! What a relief! We are now onto our third online course and I love running it more and more every time! It is just up my alley as I enjoy working behind the scenes, coordinating everything for the trainers and trying my best to ensure that the students’ run through the course as hassle-free as possible. This includes putting together schedules for each course, setting due dates, constantly updating the E-Learning platform, setting up webinars twice a week, marking all the workbooks and exams and of course being on standby 24/7 for if technology once again let’s anyone down!

We are currently offering a 10-Week Nature Enthusiast Certificate online where we cover all the theoretical aspects of the Apprentice Field Guide course and more, thus making it easy for our students to carry on with our 5-Week Practical Onsite course if they wish to complete their Apprentice Field Guide qualification. We are hoping to introduce a few new courses in the near future too”!

 

 

Nathalie, all the way from The Netherlands seems to be helped by her cat during every Webinar.

“I have been thinking of doing this course for years. Only I never made any work of it.

I like to go to Africa for photography. And on safari, you learn a little bit every time, but that goes slowly.

Last year I went to the Kgalagadi for the first time and I was so impressed with the park. And there you see completely different things than in Kruger Park. At that moment I was sorry that I didn’t know more about what was going on around me.

What you learn during the course is not only useful in Africa. But also at home in the Netherlands or in other parts of the world that I still hope to see.

Now that the travel has come to a standstill with the lockdown, I thought I should now take the opportunity to do this course.

I don’t want to be a full-time guide. But I would like to pass on the knowledge I am now gaining. I think it would be nice to take children into a park who would otherwise never get the chance. Or something in conservation. For now, I don’t know where it’s going. But that may become clear over time.

 How did I experience my first week?

Very positive. I like that we have a Whatsapp group. That makes asking questions a lot faster and more convenient than by e-mail.

Uploading the workbook took some getting used to the first time. But that always takes some getting used to the first week. After that, you know how everything works.

Tatum always responds quickly via email if you need help. I think that’s a big plus. It shows that they want to help you to submit your work on time and as well as possible.

During the first webinar, I had no questions myself at that time. Yet Schalk has explained things that clarified things or suddenly fell into place better. You also notice that he tries to do everything he can to give you enough information to make you pass the exam and that he cares about the topics he talks about”.

 

 

I joined the Ulovane online course because I’ve always enjoyed viewing wild animals and was interested in learning more about them. I also took this as an opportunity to expand my skill set for future endeavours. The first week of the course was a lot of fun meeting new people and learning about things I never once knew. I am looking forward to the remaining 9 weeks of the course with this group.

 

 

Cecilia, from Australia, is doing this in tandem with her grandfather.

“I am always interested in learning more, especially when it comes to the environment. I first visited South Africa in 2014 and then once again the following year and absolutely loved my time there. I’ve always felt a strong connection to the environment and so when I started a degree in science it was only natural that I ended up in environmental science. I am now working on vegetation surveys in outback Australia and am always looking for ways to further my career. When the opportunity came up to take the Ulovane online course I jumped on it. The first week has been great, Schalk obviously knows his stuff. And I’ve been able to wrap my head around so many things that we take for granted in our day to day life but never properly understood. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing where this course will take me next”.

 

 

Christian is based here in South Africa

“The reason I joined the Ulovane online course is to further my knowledge in fauna and flora as my passion is being out in the bush, teaching people and showing them interesting things about the bush that they did not know, the Ulovane online course will give me the needed knowledge to go out into the field to teach people about the different things from rocks to soils, birds, animals and plants. The first week of the online course was really amazing meeting amazing people from all over the world. The first week we dove into Astronomy and Geology, before the course I knew little about our galaxy and in the first week, I have expanded my knowledge on our galaxy and for Geology what important role it plays on earth. Once again the first week was really amazing and looking forward to the rest of the weeks working with our amazing group”.

 

 

To find out more about Ulovane Environmental Training and what they offer, click on the logo above.