learn ways of the wild
at Big Oaks outdoors training
enjoy natural beauty while learning
(July 2007) Outdoor activities such as hunting,
fishing and camping have been traditionally viewed as male pastimes.
However, throughout the years, many women have found themselves drawn
to the outdoors in pursuit of such leisure activities. Some women do
not have much training in particular outdoor activities, even if they
have been active in various outdoor hobbies or sports. Thus, for the
third year, the Outdoor Women at Big Oaks event has drawn
women of all ages and interests to the historic Old Timbers Lodge at
the Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge, 1661 W. JPG Niblo Rd., Madison,
to learn about such things.
by Don Ward
left, Barbara Hoard of Louisville,
Julie White of Hanover, Ind., and
Gretchen Lindquist of Madison, Ind.,
work together to set up a tent.
The one-day Outdoor Women at Big Oaks event
was held on June 2 and was sponsored by the Big Oaks Conservation Society,
Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge, and the Indiana Air National Guard
at Jefferson Range.
According to the events website, the program was designed
to offer women age 14 and older the opportunity to gain valuable in-the-field
skills and knowledge in an environment that encourages fun and success
in the outdoors. Jean Heron, co-chairwoman for the event, said,
The purpose is to help women who are interested in learning more
about the outdoors. It is designed to give them an introduction to outdoor
activities such as canoeing, fishing, and archery.
Outdoor Women at Big Oaks originated three years ago when the Big Oaks
Conservation Society was looking for a way to increase community awareness
for the refuge. Deanna Robison, also co-chairwoman for the event, said
the members wanted to expose women to the outdoors as well. So the event
evolved through the need to educate people about the outdoors and the
refuge and the need to include women in this education.
Both Robison and Heron believed this years event was a success,
although they did not have as many participants as in years past.
The event was divided into three mini-classes or courses, each lasting
one hour and 50 minutes. The classes were designed for all ages and
for novices on the subject matter. The topics covered ranged from activities
such as photography, hiking, canoeing, bird watching, archery, fishing
and camping. Trained volunteers from such organizations as the Conservation
Office and an archery club in Indianapolis taught the sessions. Local
specialists were used whenever possible.
Participants paid $40 for the event and were also provided with snacks,
a catered lunch, and door prizes, along with a year membership to the
conservation society and refuge grounds. Raffle tickets were available
for purchase for such items as a fly-fishing pole and a night at a Holiday
The event was very well-organized and put together, said
participant Julie White, 57, of Madison.
Heron believed the event drew a good age spread with the
youngest woman being 21 and the oldest in her 70s. Fifty percent of
the 60 or so women came from the surrounding counties, but women traveled
from northern Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, and even Illinois to attend.
Although the primary goal for the event is educating women and getting
them interested in the outdoors, the secondary goal with any leftover
funds was, according to Heron, to put it toward a hiking trail
near Old Timber Lake on the refuge.
by Don Ward
Price gets an
archery lesson from John Carroll of Alexandria, Ind.
The chairwomen of the event always have an evaluation
of the program at the end of the day. They were pleased with the evaluations
since the participants stated their satisfaction with the event.
The goal for next years Outdoor Women is to expand
the class listing offered to keep people interested in attending. Heron
and Robison believe it is important to offer a wide variety of topics
and skills for women to learn, while also providing some basic repeats
Gretchen Lindquist, 30, of Madison, attended this years event
for the second time. Lindquist has always enjoyed being in the outdoors,
especially since she owns a 100-acre farm. This year she participated
in the camping-hiking, archery, and tree identification classes. She
was particularly excited with the results from her archery class because
she learned how to use a compound bow.
They had excellent teachers from Carroll Archery, which is north
of Anderson, Ind. It was really nice equipment, she said.
Lindquist and her best friend attended the event and the archery class
together. They enjoyed spending time with one another in the outdoors
and decided to put their newly acquired skills to use by purchasing
a bow together.
We are almost the same size, so luckily we can use the same bow,
White attended the event as a newcomer because she viewed it as an adventure
and was interested in viewing the architecture of the Old Timbers Lodge.
White loves the outdoors and felt the classes she took were great. She
learned about camping techniques, fly fishing and canoeing.
I learned a lot of skills, and the classes were extremely informative,
She enjoyed the time spent outdoors with other women who shared similar
interests. Its nice to know how many women hunt, hike, and
fish. Its not just a guy thing, she declared.
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