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Trio builds more than knowledge through women’s outdoor workshops, program

If you ask Teresa Sollis Gray what her favorite takeaway from this year’s Becoming an Outdoors-Woman Spring Event held by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, she’ll tell you she has two — Meganne Townsend and Tammie Lenoard. But these three ladies didn’t just get to know one another this spring; their friendship was forged through BOW nearly four years ago. 

“We were all strangers when we first started going to the BOW workshops,” Gray said. “I went to my first one at the 4H center in Ferndale in 2018, which was Tammie’s first event, too. Meganne had been to one before that.”

Gray and Townsend were matched up in rooming assignments, and Lenoard was in the next room, but they all got to know each other through the course of the weekend.

“Tammie was in the deer hunting basics class with me, which was a class that I’d wanted to take to get more familiar with hunting,” Gray said. “My family has 200 acres of hunting property near Ash Flat, and for years I would take my daughter up there and let her hunt with her pawpaw. Once she went to college, my father wondered who he would be hunting with. I went once and thought that it was something I could share with him, but I wanted to learn as much as I could, so I took the class.”  

Photo by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.

The weekend of her first BOW event was particularly muddy, and she was riding in a side-by-side with other passengers back from her class when she saw Lenoard walking.

“I hopped out and walked back with her,” Gray said. “Over the course of the weekend we all became great friends and stayed in touch with each other.”

Since that first workshop, the three have experienced a lifetime’s worth of outdoors experiences. Fly-fishing, kayaking, handgun classes and turkey hunting classes are just a few of the BOW-organized topics they’ve been able to enjoy.

“We all met back at the 4H center for the 2019 event, but then COVID hit,” Gray said. “We still were able to get out and go to many of the smaller events, like the Northwest Arkansas BOW last year and this spring’s BOW weekend. The other two went fishing last Thursday night, then came to my house and stayed the night before we all went to [Potlatch Cooks Lake Nature Center] for kayak fishing Saturday and then to shoot sporting clays Sunday. It was a jam packed weekend with friends.” 

These three friends didn’t just contain their fun to BOW workshops, either.

“We’ve gone on a 5K ugly sweater run together, and have gotten together on our own to enjoy hunting and kayaking, too.” Gray said. “Tammie and her husband have a duck cabin, and we’ve all gone there. They’ve both been up to my family’s hunting property as well. AGFC Commissioner Anne Marie Doramus also invited us to join her and some other women for a women’s weekend duck hunt.”

Lea White, BOW program coordinator for the AGFC, said the three are a great example of what BOW is all about. She says it’s rare to see them without a smile on their faces, and they always try to interact with other women who attend the workshops they are on.

“We all try to meet everyone there and make everyone feel welcome,” Gray said. “It’s hard for many women to put themselves out there in a group of strangers where they feel vulnerable. We want everyone to enjoy these trips as much as we’ve been able to.”

Photo by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.

Gray says some of the events or classes aren’t a fit for everyone, but you won’t know until you try.

“I tried a scuba diving class, and between the equipment and getting certified, it’s sort of been put on the back burner,” Gray said. “I also went on a nighttime herping adventure where we looked for snakes and other reptiles. That was an ‘interesting’ experience, but I’m so glad I did it. Really the only regret that I’ve had is that I didn’t sign up for BOW classes sooner.” 

The trio already plans to attend the next BOW weekend in northwest Arkansas, which will be announced soon. In the meantime, you can catch up on their adventures, as well as many other ladies’ experiences at BOW at https://www.facebook.com/BOWArkansas and the Women’s Outdoor Network – Central Arkansas Facebook group.

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