August 10—Teaching women the skills to explore the great outdoors is the goal of a local chapter of Women in the Outdoors.
The Tenkiller Stake Park WITO met on Monday, August 8 to discuss their next annual event. According to coordinator Leann Bunn, this chapter hosted the biggest WITO event in 15 years.
“We’ve been hosting a Women in the Outdoors event since 2001,” Bunn said.
This year, the event will offer about 29 courses in various subjects. Bunn listed basket weaving, wood burning, orienteering, soap making, fire starting, water purification, beekeeping, hunting and hiking, among other topics.
“Women in the Outdoors is about encouraging women to go outside,” Bunn said.
With many class offerings aimed at beginners, Bunn said, women can participate without any performance pressure. She described the atmosphere as one of support, camaraderie and friendship.
“We have a lot of repeat customers, women who come back year after year,” Bunn said. “Last year, more than 100 women came to the event.”
Bunn has been an avid outdoorsman for years. She remembers fishing, picking and making sauerkraut with her mother in her youth.
“My first ‘Women in the Outdoors’ was my mom,” Bunn said. “That’s what inspired me to do it. I want [the outdoors] be a family affair, not just dad taking the boys hunting.”
Bunn has been hunting for 15 years now. She wants other women to have these experiences with their children and grandchildren.
“Those kind of moments stay with a child,” Bunn said.
WITO is a program of the National Wild Turkey Federation, which states that it is “dedicated to the conservation of wild turkeys and the preservation of our hunting heritage”. Its outreach program WITO officially started in 1998.
Conservation and responsible outdoor use are important to Bunn. She explained that hunting and fishing license purchases help fund the efforts of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, protecting hunting and birding grounds.
“If we lose people, we lose that,” Bunn said.
Over the years, Rhonda Stanley has benefited from a number of different perspectives at Tenkiller WITO.
“I’ve been going as a participant for 20 years,” Stanley said. “For the past four years I have been a board member and for four years I have taught soap making.”
Stanley is looking forward to the whole weekend – both the women and the learning experience. In previous classes, she learned how to forge and dehydrate food, skills she still practices.
“I love the environment,” Stanley said. “They’re all women, so I don’t feel as criticized as I might with the men.”
To be involved
Stanley encourages women who want to learn these types of skills to try WITO. Contact Leann Bunn at [email protected], or call 918-489-5025, ext. 6.