On the scorching hot banks of the Deschutes River July 27th and 28th, there was more going on than just blazing wildfires. A small group of 25 women from all over the northwest gathered on the lush grass of the Imperial River Company grounds to partake in the inaugural Women’s Wild Fish Rendezvous, dedicated to spreading their own fire... the power of women in the quest to protect our native, wild fish and their homewaters.
W4WF co-founders, Tracy Bucker of Native Fish Society, Mia Sheppard of Little Creek Outfitters, and NFS Keep ‘Em Wet Fellow Allison Oliver, had all noticed the huge influx of women coming into the angling arena through social media. This was the perfect opportunity to take the grip and grin shots that are plastered everywhere on Instagram and turn them into a science-based educational effort for wild fish conservation.
Going in with zero funding and high hopes, Mia and Tracy pulled together speakers from other nonprofits, as well as women’s fishing clubs from Olympia, WA, Bend, OR, and Portland, OR.
- Jodi Wilmoth, NFS Upper Deschutes River Steward, presented on the importance of becoming a steward for your homewaters.
- Averi Wratney, board member for the Steamboaters, discussed navigating leadership roles on a board and how to get involved with policy.
- Mia Sheppard, NFS John Day River Steward and co-owner of Little Creek Outfitters, gave a hands on Keep ‘em Wet presentation and discussed the basics of proper fish handling ethics.
- Jennifer Fairbrother, NFS Campaign & Columbia Regional Director, gave an in depth presentation on how to thoughtfully engage in advocacy.
- Maggie Mac, J. Michelle Swope and Jenny O’Brien, all from local women only fly fishing groups, talked about their organizations and what they are doing for wild fish conservation.
The end result was inspiring and motivating.
W4WF is a Native Fish Society initiative and will be comprised of a series of workshops/events/activities where the goal is simply to bring women together to discuss conservation issues, the science behind the issues, and useful tools or strategies for addressing these issues. Our vision is simple: Connecting women within and across watersheds to promote women as leaders of science-based education, conservation, and wild fish advocacy.
If you would like to participate in an upcoming workshop or would like more information, please email Tracy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“A circle of women, with a mission, can save the world.” ~Unknown
Special thanks to event sponsors, Simm’s, Keep ‘em Wet, The Steamboaters and The North Umpqua Foundation.