By Sarah Allen
For many women in Highland, Brown and Adams counties, the chance to learn something new, get closer to nature, and make new friends was only one evening class away.
The Tri-County Real Outdoor Women program was created last year, with inspiration from women-targeted programs by the National Wild Turkey Federation and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
Danielle Thompson, education and wildlife specialist with the Brown County Soil and Water Conservation District, said ROW was also inspired by an evening conservation series created by the Ottawa Soil and Water Conservation District.
Now in its second year, the Tri-County ROW program strives to offer diverse topics to its participants. So far, women have learned skills ranging from archery to outdoor cooking, and from birding to canoeing.
“We try to … do a variety of things,” Thompson said, from physical skills to nature appreciation.
The topics are chosen by a committee which ultimately aims to select a mixture of interests.
She said the ultimate goal is to “bring outdoor skills and exploration programs to women” and to “allow ladies to select their own level of involvement.”
Typically, Thompson said, the programs are “dominated by just adult women.”
“We get friends that come together, sisters that want to do something,” she said.
However, in June, a nature photography session saw the most participants under the age of 18 so far.
The session, held at Chatfield College in Brown County, began with a provided boxed meal. As participants finished their meal, the evening’s instructor began a PowerPoint presentation describing tips for nature photography.
Tom Patrick is a resident of Brown County and a professional photographer. He has also been teaching photography for a decade.
Patrick began the evening’s presentation by saying that he is “very, very blessed to do this crazy, crazy thing called photography.”
“It’s an art, truly, truly, truly,” he said, and that art begins from the moment photographers take a picture and continues into the work they do in digital editing.
Above all, he said, “the wonderful thing about photography is having fun.”
Following Patrick’s presentation, students explored Chatfield College’s peaceful campus, testing out their new skills with the many landscaped flowers, trees and bushes that surrounded them. Patrick was nearby to provide assistance as needed to the new photographers.
After all, whatever the topic, every ROW session “provides an opportunity to try something new with other people who are in a similar situation,” Thompson said. She described the classes as “fun and forgiving.”
“The camaraderie that develops between participants is immediate,” Thompson said.
She added that one of the most memorable events of the past two years was the archery session, held at the Fallsville Wildlife Area last September.
“We had so many women who had never tried that before,” Thompson said.
And the participants, she added, were “really encouraging of each other… They really got into it.”
Another benefit, Thompson said, is that ROW “exposes more people to what’s available in the region,” especially the different parks and wildlife areas where the classes are held.
The ROW classes are made possible through a partnership with the Soil and Water Conservation Districts of Brown, Highland and Adams counties; the ODNR’s Division of Wildlife; and Pheasants and Quail Forever.
Two additional ROW sessions are scheduled for this year. The first, which will cover tree identification basics, is set for July 21, from 5:30-8 p.m. at Pike State Forest in Pike County. The second will be held Sept. 15, also from 5:30-8 p.m., and will be an introduction to fishing. It will be held at Woodland Altars in Adams County.
Thompson said there is availability in both classes. Women do not have to live in the three involved counties to participate.
For more information, or to register for classes, visit the Brown County Soil and Water Conservation website at brownswcd.com. Tom Patrick’s photography can be found at tompatrickphotography.com.
Try these rustic recipes from ROW!
2 large cans peach slices in heavy syrup
2 cups Bisquick baking mix
2/3 +/- cup milk
Line Dutch oven with aluminum foil. Pour peaches with syrup into Dutch oven. Mix Bisquick and milk in a bowl to make a pasty batter. Drop by globs over peaches and syrup. Cover.
Place over 4 +/- cups of wood coals, place equal coals on top. Bake 30 minutes +/-, checking often. Turn oven to keep heat even. Option: Add cinnamon, nutmeg and-or sugar to vary the taste.
WHITE CHICKEN CHILI
1-plus pounds boneless chicken breasts, finely cubed
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
One 1.25-ounce McCormick White Chicken Chili Seasoning Mix
4 cups chicken or turkey broth (boxed or canned work well)
3 15.5-ounce cans cannellini (white kidney) beans, undrained
Saute chicken in olive oil until no longer pink (5+ minutes). This can be done in a skillet or directly in soup kettle.
Add remaining ingredients.
Bring to a boil, then simmer on low heat 15-45 minutes.
Serve with crackers, bread, corn bread and/or cheese.