What if you also became a nature guide?

Through their thousands of nature excursions all year round, the associations of the France Nature Environnement movement offer the most curious audience the opportunity to discover nature in their region: discovery of wild plants and flowers, bird watching, night excursions to meet amphibians, reading landscapes, identification of micro-mammals. .. These times of discovery and initiation often make the participants want to go further and deepen their naturalistic knowledge, or even become nature guides themselves! To do this, some of our member associations offer training in different regions of France.

Pierre-François Berrier had the chance to follow the Champagne-Ardenne Nature Environnement (CANE): He tells us!

Who are you ? What made you take this training?

Pierre-Francois Berrier

In 2019, I returned to settle in Marne in Reims to develop my activity: managing projects to implement the ecological transformation. I work on projects that combine biodiversity and CO2 issues, and on nature projects in the city. I like working in a highly anthropic environment; before training I knew more invasive alien species than native species!

I wanted to get to know the ecosystems of the region better and beyond that train myself in helping people discover themselves. I learned about the nature guide education through a group of citizens who wanted to set up a nature project in the city and urban agriculture. This training gave me the opportunity to discover or rediscover the ecosystems of the Champagne region, to meet local actors involved in the environment of our region and above all to learn how to introduce these natural environments to other target groups.

Can you tell us a few words about what is covered during this training, its goals?

Inventory of small aquatic fauna
Inventory of small aquatic fauna
© Champagne Ardenne Nature Environment

The training took place d 7 theme weekends from September to April, in the most suitable periods to observe fauna and flora (see brochure). Each workout started Saturday morning around 6 p.m. 9 and ended Sunday at. 12. During the day we were outside to discover various natural environments such as hedgerows, forests, lakes and rivers in the Ardennes, Marne or Aube. In addition to pure naturalistic knowledge, examples of observational or manipulative activities have been shown to us so that we again know how to suggest them.

In terms of investment, we were in turn responsible as a team for producing the report from one of the training weekends, ie 1/2 working day.

The training gives you the opportunity to acquire a solid foundation for becoming a nature guide, but you must be aware that each participant must continue to train to become an experienced guide. You do not become a naturalist on a few weekends;)

What did you appreciate most during this training?

  • The availability and pedagogy of the various presenters, the good atmosphere with the other trainees. On Saturday night, the whole group lived in the same lodge, which allowed us to discuss in more detail with the supervisors as well as with the other interns. This was much appreciated by all.
  • The diversity of trainees: teachers, a hunter, retirees.
  • The discovery of vastly different places and the knowledge of natural scientists.

I especially remember the sequence “Recognize the songs of the birds”: it is something that seemed inaccessible to me before, even though I knew some birds that were often encountered in the city. The discovery of birds with a volunteer from LPO changed his mind completely. She taught us to listen to and recognize more songs: I have not heard birdsong in the same way since.

Something surprising that surprised / marked you during this workout?

I am thinking in particular of two moments:

  • A night excursion near Boult-aux-Bois (08). We moved as quietly as possible, sometimes we even walked alone. We could hear a tan owl and guess its movements while enjoying complete silence during its flights. It’s pretty amazing to experience.

  • Observation of the wild wine that grows in the forests of Aube. It was a surprising and mysterious discovery to see a wine grow wild and uncut by man. The free liana side amazed me. In addition, there are a lot of scientific questions about these wild vines. Usually in Champagne the vines are observed, pruned, harvested!

How do you plan to implement this training?

I am currently developing a “nature in the city” activity for schools and social centers on an urban farm located in Reims. The goal is to give as many children as possible the opportunity to meet nature in the city and make them want to explore the ecosystems of our territory. Observations, manipulations are at the heart of this project, applying everything I was able to learn thanks to the training.

Realization of a giant herbarium
Realization of a giant herbarium
© Champagne Ardenne Nature Environment

I would also like to organize nature activities with professionals: for example, to support companies in questioning their relationship to their surrounding nature. The goal is to bring employees and managers into contact with “nature”, the fauna and flora that surrounds them.

I am also an animator of the biodiversity fresco, and I would like to complete this animation with nature excursions supervised by professionals to get the participants to concretely discover the interdependence with the ecosystems in our lives and our economies …

Who would you recommend this course to and why?

I have already recommended the training to several people, people who are engaged in nature (especially people who are already involved in an urban agriculture project in Reims) and also professional relationships. For example, I talked about this education in the Cooperative, where I develop my activity. I also know farmers and hunters, I would recommend them to do so to make them want to discover the ecosystems where they work.

Nature guide training in Champagne-Ardenne

Nature guide training in Alsace

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