Lessons Learned from Nature

     Since moving to Nebraska five years ago I have become intrigued with many things that the Heartland has to offer and one that has stood out is the habits of the Canadian Geese that inhabit Grand Island. Daily I pass a gaggle by one of the parks and I’ve found myself wanting to learn more about my feathered neighbors. I grew up in a city and the closest thing to a wild animal was a stray cat so this just added to my desire to learn more about my new home.

     In researching these amazing birds I learned several facts that I feel parallel many traits we have or should have in the fire service and in each of our EMS/fire departments. This list is not conclusive and is my opinion but here are some observations:

     Fact: Geese mate for life and raise their goslings with shared parenting with the female focused on survival and life skills while the male stands guard usually at a distance to confuse predators.

     Take Away: We should be loyal to each other and share the load of whatever needs to be done, each person within an organization has a role and each role contributes to the organization. Roles evolve over time and when they do we should support each other in learning the new role and encourage one another’s success.

     Fact: Geese fly in a V-formation, which increases their range by up to 71%. The lift generated by the lead goose reduces the drag on the trailing geese by 50%, when the lead bird tires it drops to the back and another one takes the lead. This shared workload strengthens the flock.

     Take Away: There is strength in numbers when we are all going the same direction. Sometimes it becomes necessary for the leader to drop off but the flock continues with the same mission and purpose with the end destination as the end goal. There can be different leaders for different projects – no has to do it all. A great leader once said “it’s amazing what an organization can accomplish when no one cares who gets the credit”.

     Fact: During flight, geese in the back of the flight “honk” which scientist have determined is considered “words” of encouragement to the leader of the flight. The flight wants the leader to be strong which in turns makes it easier for the flight to be strong and fly.

     Take Away: We should support and encourage each other within the department with positive words and actions. Success of the leader can impact the strength of the department so encourage the leaders and leadership of your organization because in the end it will make our lives better.

     Fact: When a goose becomes ill, injured or sick and it falls out of flight formation and lands, two or three other geese will drop out of formation to stay with it. These geese will stay with the sick bird and protect it until it is well enough to fly or dies.

     Take Away: When one of our members gets sick with a medical condition we rally around them but we should rally around them when they are struggling with emotional health issues, loss of a family member or someone is just having a “bad day”. We take care of our own.

     Nature is a great learning source that we all can learn from and apply to our individual skill set and our organization. 

     The Training Division of the State Fire Marshal’s office is here to support your department’s train and certification needs please contact us at 308-385-6892or email me at alan.joos@nebraska.gov if we can assist you or if you have any questions.




Blaze Publications, Inc.

Jeff Gargano - Editor
P.O. Box 122
Humboldt, IA 50548
Phone: (515) 604-6400
Fax: (515) 332-1505

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