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Erlend Berne – Nature Guide

 

I was born on Hundvåg, a little island north-east of Stavanger, Norway. I lived on this quiet island until I finished high school, at the age of 18, and went off for a year of military service. Doing well on the mental and physical tests, I could more or less choose where I wanted to serve. I chose somewhere exotic – far north at the Russian border. The service at the Garrison of Sør-Varanger was arduous for a small, slim 18 year old, but I managed to pull through and become a border guard: something only about one third of the initial recruits manage. In addition to getting traditional military training as a reconnaissance scout, I was trained in the basics of survival, and how to stay warm, safe and comfortable in arctic conditions.

I have always been fascinated by nature. I was the sort of kid you could take to the rocky shoreline, hand a net and a bucket, and I would be gone for the day exploring new worlds. I could catch prawns with my bare hands, and I knew exactly how to hold a crab so it couldn’t pinch me. In an hour or less, my little bucket would be an impressive exhibition of oceanic life. The curiosity for things that grow and move never faded. So, after finishing my military service, it seemed natural that I apply for a spot in the bachelor of biology program of NTNU – The Norwegian University of Science and Technology. I got accepted and moved to Trondheim to study, in 2006. I finished my bachelor’s, and completed a master’s program as well. The latter was in the field of ethology – the study of behaviour in an evolutionary perspective. During my studies, I visited the Serengeti in Tanzania, and collected research data deep in the outback of Australia. From my biology days, I have knowledge about the various indigenous species of Norway. It is something I do my best to maintain, because I take simple pleasure in being familiar with what I find in the wilderness.

After graduating in 2011, I looked for work. Various part time jobs popped up here and there that I tried out. Teaching had interested me for a while, so I was a substitute teacher for 2 years. Then I got hired as a photographer at Jotunheimen national park, and this galvanised my desire for a job where I could be out in nature, perhaps as a photographer. The national park could only afford me for one season, however, and finding interesting work continued being difficult. I used my time honing my skills at nature photography by working without pay at Norges Naturvernforbund  – an organisation dedicated to preserving nature. The government subsidised this effort so that I still had some income. Thanks to some very happy coincidences, I found out about Outdoorlife Norway. Johannes Apon was looking for an employee. We met in December of 2015, and quickly formed a good relationship. After a trial period of shadow shifts to learn some of the many skills required for guiding, I was hired.

Today I work at Outdoorlife Norway as a guide, photographer and media editor, as well as handling my share of back-office tasks. Not only do I get to meet new people and improve their holiday, but I get to show them the beauty of the Norwegian outdoors, and the wonders and oddities of the natural world. There are not many jobs like this. It is a privilege to be part of Outdoorlife Norway.

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