Becoming an Outdoors-Woman with the AGFC

Jill M. Rohrbach
Today I’m headed to the Arkansas 4-H Center in Ferndale for the Becoming an Outdoors-Woman program offered by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. For the last few years I have seen this program on the Calendar of Events and have wanted to go to it. But the dates never seemed to work out. Finally, I’m making it happen.

The workshop focuses on learning outdoor skills usually associated with hunting and fishing, but includes other outdoor pursuits as well. My problem is that I wanted to take every single class offered, which simply isn’t possible within the weekend time period. So, you have to pick what you would most like, send in your preferences and hope you get your number one choices.

Here are the classes I had to choose from: into to firearms & firearm safety, basic fishing skills, high ropes course, outdoor photography, basic motor boat skills, GPS 101, introduction to scuba diving, stream ecology, duck hunting basics, beginning archery, basic fishing skills, birdwatching basics, rifle markswomanship, beginning fly fishing, Dutch oven cooking, nature crafts, canoe & kayak paddling, pioneer woman skills, map & compass, watchable wildlife, ATV rider course, fly tying basics, shotgunning basics, basic camping skills, geocaching, outdoor survival, field orienteering, beginning bowhunting, turkey hunting 101, beginning backpacking, and wild plants and their uses.

Everyone on of those sounds fun to me. It was easy to mark some things off the list. I already love geocaching, and have done my share of outdoor photography, backpacking and camping. My husband and I like to fly fish, although we rarely find time for it right now. I’ve also had an introduction to scuba diving and ATV riding, and have had some great adventures canoeing and kayaking.

I love to shoot a gun when the opportunity arises. However, I don’t really want to hunt and I don’t own a gun to even go to a practice range. It didn’t make much sense for me to go for those classes, plus you had to have the introduction to firearms course before you could take some of the other markswoman courses. That left even less time for other options. While I’d like to try my hand at backing a boat into the water and driving around the lake, I don’t own a boat. So, it came down to what I thought would be most useful in my life.

I still had trouble picking first, second and third choices for each session, and I can’t actually remember what those were now. I do know that I signed up for some things just for fun and others because I thought they might be useful down the road.

I ended up with basic fishing skills, beginning archery, Dutch oven cooking and outdoor survival. I’d like to be more independent fishing, and know about more than fly fishing for trout. Beginning archery is just a needed challenge. Dutch oven cooking is practical because I see more camping in my future now that my kids are a little older and we can do more out in the woods. Outdoor survival? Well, who knows, maybe I’ll sign up for Survivor.

Look for future blogs about my experience; hopefully none that say I shot an arrow through my foot. And if this interests you contact AGFC at 501-831-1504 to find out next year’s dates. Put it on your calendar now and plan to be there. Registration is due in July and the cost is $195. That fee includes all sessions, program materials, use of equipment, lodging, meals and evening programs.

And if you just don’t want to wait, here’s upcoming similar event.

The Bull Shoals-White River State Park, located in Bull Shoals and Lakeview, is offering a Women’s Outdoor Weekend on Oct. 1-3. Sessions will include basic camping, nature journaling, intro to kayaking, and more. The fee of $125 includes all meals and use of gear. Space is limited and reservations are required. Call 870-445-3629.

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