Get to Know Jennifer Foster, Kansas Women in the Outdoors Coordinator
NWTF:How did you become a volunteer?
Jennifer Foster: Three years ago, I was approached by an acquaintance who knew I was a hunter. He invited me to the inaugural First Kansas Upland Pioneers Chapter banquet. My husband and I attended and enjoyed ourselves. We thought joining the chapter was something we could do together. We could meet new people with the same values and interests, and maybe it was just the thing we were looking for to make a difference in our community. Never did we expect it to have such an impact on our lives.
NWTF:How did your first Women in the Outdoors hunter creation event come about?
JF: I volunteer with three successful JAKES events. Our chapter also has assisted with the implementation of the Archery in the Schools program in one of our local school districts. The response and success of these outreach events has been amazing. One day, while cruising the NWTF website, I came across information on Women in the Outdoors. I grew up the only daughter in the middle of two boys. They were always off hunting with my dad and uncle. I thought they were nuts and did not figure they would want a girl to tag along. It was not until a couple of years into my marriage that I went white-tailed deer hunting with my husband. It was then I decided I could hunt. I signed up for the next available hunter education class and I have been hooked ever since. The desire behind and reason for the Women in the Outdoors event was to give women an opportunity to see what the outdoors has to offer. I wanted them to experience, in a non-pressured environment, what it is like to shoot a gun, cast a fly rod or release an arrow.
NWTF:Many chapters struggle with event participation. How were you able to bring in more than 50 participants?
JF: Our chapters fourth annual banquet was held in early June 2013. We used that event to announce our plans for a Women in the Outdoors event that September. By the middle of July we were putting out flyers in gas stations, local gun stores, on vehicles at the sports complex and the local county fair.
Social media allowed us to gather feedback and gauge womens level of interest. It quickly became apparent the event was going to be larger than I could have hoped for. We found many benefits to using Facebook. It gave our committee a place they could refer women to for more details. The ladies had a chance to ask questions about the event and have them answered in real-time.
Several women started discussions on the event page about things they were excited to experience that day. It also served as a great tool for committee members to refer women to our Facebook page for the event registration form.
NWTF:What was your assessment of those who participated in the event?
JF: It was a day full of smiles that would not have been possible without the help of local businesses, the women who participated, and our local chapter members. Our chapter supported a what if idea and we turned it into a headline event. The excitement continued beyond the event, leading several women to inquire about being involved in the chapter.
NWTF:Did the experience change you as a volunteer?
JF: I have realized that a high-energy, high-strung farm kid with an outgoing personality from rural southeast Kansas can make a real difference in peoples lives. Of all the things that I have been involved in, God has chosen this as my vehicle. My passion has increased tenfold since our first event, and I am looking forward to our second Women in the Outdoors event this fall.