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If you are a woman who enjoys outdoor activities like fishing, hunting, boating, hiking and more, you have likely noticed it’s a male-dominated world. Times have been and continue to change, and the Women Outdoor Network is helping to lead the charge.
In my experience over the past few years, men are now more open to the idea of sharing outdoor spaces and experiences with women. More dads are taking their daughters on hunting trips, and more moms are joining in. The outdoors is no longer a guy thing; it’s a man thing, a woman thing, and a family thing.
It has been a joy seeing women being embraced by the outdoor world. One of my favorite examples is Rebecca Lentz-Baker, better known in the social media world as @LadyAnglerLentz. When I first wrote about Lentz-Baker in 2020, she was still relatively new to the world of fly fishing. In just under two years, she has taken what started as a cool hobby and made a name for herself in the Arkansas fly fishing world. Since May 2020, Lentz-Baker has been featured in multiple news articles, magazines, commercials, and her photo now graces the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation trailer.
Photo courtesy of John 3:16 Ministries
Lentz-Baker became a fly-fishing influencer so that she can “motivate and inspire others to get outdoors and find their passion.” Still, every one of us can encourage other women by getting them outdoors with us and teaching them skills to be successful in a variety of outdoor activities.
That ideal is the motivation behind why Hollie Sanders started the online Women Outdoor Network group in 2017. The group is “a place where women interested in outdoor pursuits can connect and share their experiences, plan outdoor adventures together, and put into practice the outdoor skills they have learned.”
Arkansas is a big state, and connecting with women interested in the same kind of outdoor activities as yourself can be a challenge. If you’ve always wanted a gal-pal that you could kayak with after work or a friend who was willing to go squirrel hunting with you – the Women Outdoor Network (WON) is a great way to find a new friend. The central Arkansas group is the largest, so most women join this group along with one that is closer to where they live. That gives you the most opportunity to connect with local outdoorswomen.
Although Sanders is an Arkansas Game and Fish employee, the network is not officially associated with conservation or outdoor agencies or groups in Arkansas. Members who join the group will find events hosted by Sanders and other regional outdoor network coordinators and activities geared specifically toward women hosted by Arkansas Game and Fish or other outdoor organizations.
WON activities range from gathering around a fire pit for conversation and s’mores to lessons in outdoor skills, a group of ladies kayaking together and even full-weekend outings.
I recently attended a Women Outdoor Network Zoom session about Basic Fire Starting. Group member and regional educator for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Laura Rogers led a zoom session with about 10 women to teach basic fire-starting skills. The short meeting included instructions on making several homemade fire starters and methods for using kindling and logs to achieve a beautiful campfire. It was fun and informative, and I’ve already been able to put what I’ve learned into practice.
A group like WON is made successful by its members. Here are 6 tips to help you be a great member of the Women Outdoor Network.
The Women Outdoor Network is also a great resource for women’s outdoor gear. I recently walked into a local fly shop and found the limited amount of gear available for women shocking. Many outdoor activities require specific equipment and gear, and as women, we must often make gear designed for men work for us. As a larger girl, finding a pair of waders was practically impossible. The men’s waders that were easy to find didn’t fit well. And what was available for women was usually only available in tiny sizes. My only option was ordering something specifically for women online and hoping it would fit.
This year, group members started WON – Buy & Sell group to help members find gear at great prices. So far, I have snagged a few pieces and plan to list a few things soon.
Photo courtesy of Arkansas Game and Fish Commission BOW.
The Women Outdoor Network hosts various events and encourages members to participate in other outdoor events, even if they aren’t specifically targeted to women. Here is a list of the places you can find Women Outdoor Network members in the next few months.
July 23-25 – Women on the Water Weekend
July 31 – Gardening 101 Native Plants
New events and member gatherings all popping up all the time so stay active in the groups to get notifications.
Whether you want to keep up to date on upcoming activities or connect with other like-minded women, the Women Outdoor Network is a great way to stay involved in the outdoors. And don’t forget to read about the Becoming an Outdoors Woman program hosted by Arkansas Game and Fish.
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