MIKE BRAUN Future rests with women
Look around you because that's where the future for outdoors is, no matter what the aspect -- hunting, fishing, trapping or ANY outdoors pursuit.
Where I want you to look is right next to you, at your wife, daughter, sister, mother, girlfriend, significant other or any friend or acquaintance of the female persuasion.
Suzi Bieber knows this is true.
Where? The Canfield woman recently spent a week at the Granite Creek Ranch near Jackson, Wyo., to take part in this year's Becoming an Outdoorswoman workshop.
Bieber, 33, is a board member for the Eastern Ohio-Northwest Penn Chapter of the Safari Club International and was selected to be among the 56 women from around the U.S. to attend the workshop.
The workshop is sponsored by the Safari Club International Foundation and is operated at the SCIF's American Wilderness School facility in Jackson. The school is usually pressed into use as a place to train educators on the outdoors.
Bieber attended the workshop as a way to hone her already sharp outdoors skills. "The week heightened my skills and what I already knew," she said. "They covered a wide spectrum of knowledge and gave some very good hands-on experience."
What the BOW experience is all about is getting women more involved in the outdoors, from hunting and fishing to orienteering, map reading, archery and wild game cookery.
In the past, the majority of those who enjoyed these types of pursuits have been men. Women, from young girls to mature adults, really had no way to be introduced to these types of activities unless a male relative or friend took the time to do so.
Enter Becoming An Outdoors-woman.
Attitudes changed: According to Bieber, one of the most interesting things that happened during her week in Wyoming was seeing how some women's attitudes changed about the outdoors.
"Once the women started learning about outdoor activities, you couldn't get them to stop," she said. "We had some out here who had never touched a gun or had been involved in any way before."
Bieber explained that one such woman, who had a husband who hunted and fished, had never really been involved in such activities. Once she became involved in some of the BOW courses, however, she suddenly realized just how hunting and conservation fit hand-in-hand.
"Many people just don't really understand how hunting and conservation are connected," Bieber said.
Bieber was surprised at what she got from the trip. "I went for a vacation and gained an education," she said.
Among her activities were reading topographical maps, learning how to tie fishing flies, wilderness survival and a mock elk hunt.
The highlight of her week was the mock hunt. "We got up at 4:30 a.m. and went until 3:30 p.m.," she said. Even though she is an outdoor enthusiast and considers herself fit, "I found out I need to exercise more," she admitted.
She also gained considerable knowledge from the survival course and the topo map training. "I'm not saying I'm an expert now," she said. "But I feel very comfortable getting lost. I would not panic."
Worth it: Bieber considers her week out West very much worth the effort and has plans to someday return or even attend smaller, state-run versions of the program.
"Programs like this educate the public, and not just women," she said. However, Bieber knows that it is key to get more and more women involved in all aspects of the outdoors.
"I can't say enough about how women should be involved in the outdoors, especially in training youth. There has never been a better time to be outside with nature. I just wish more people could teach their kids about the outdoors," she said.
Bieber, who works for Becky Dorner and Associates, a local nutrition and health care consulting firm, is trying to do something about this educational aspect.
She is coordinating along with the local SCIF chapter a special Men and Women Recreational Day on Aug. 25. The purpose is to get people together to pass along knowledge on such topics as duck identification and retrieval, handgun safety, fishing, rope tying, and other information.
"I would like to develop a network of enthusiasm for the outdoors," she said.
The daylong event will be at the Bieber Farm on Western Reserve Road and is geared toward men and women 18 and older.
For more information, e-mail Bieber at email@example.com.