One of Cheryl's recent outdoor adventures included a trip to Juneau, Alaska, where she experienced a day mushing a dog sled team in training for the famous Iditarod sled race.
Hometown: Pataskala, Ohio
Home Chapter: The Johnstown Community Sports Club supports and sponsors the local Women in the Outdoors effort.
Membership:Women in the Outdoors.
Family: Cheryl has a 23-year-old son, Nicholas.
Notable Fact: Received the 2008 Annie Oakley Award for her contributions to the Women in the Outdoors program.
NWTF: Cheryl, how did you become involved with the Women in the Outdoors (WITO) program?
Cheryl LaRosa (CL): It's funny...I was dating a volunteer and he got me involved. I went to an event in Lancaster, Ohio, and then I helped on a committee for the Johnstown event. Long story short: he dumped me and I got to keep the Women in the Outdoors! You want the truth? It's the best thing I ever got out of any relationship with a man!
NWTF: That's a great story. Why is the Women in the Outdoors program so important to you?
CL: It's such a confidence builder. Women get to try new activities in a safe, non-competitive environment that allows them to be themselves. I also think that the volunteer instructors want to be there and it makes for a great blend of helping and fun for everyone. The instructors get as much out of this as the participants. It's such a great feeling at the end of the day!
NWTF: How has the Women in the Outdoors program changed your outlook on hunting and the outdoors?
CL: I've always loved the outdoors, but this program has opened my eyes to so many different ways to spend time in the woods. I had never hunted until getting involved in WITO. I had never used a gun—look out, I loved it! I tried it at an event, then started going to local turkey shoots and have had a blast.
One Sunday, I won seven times! Now when I show up at a turkey shoot, all the guys jokingly say, "Uh-oh, Cheryl's here, it's time for us to go home now because we can't win!" I have all my winning targets hanging in my garage and I have been turkey hunting for the past three years. I was invited by Renee O'Brokta to go to Montana in April of 2008. It was there that I bagged my first turkey— what a great rush that was! I now have sitting in my very contemporary home a stuffed 22-pound turkey. You should hear some of the comments I get when people come over!
NWTF: What do you say to other women to get them to participate in Women in the Outdoors events?
CL: I just encourage women to try new things. Somehow it comes up in conversations. As women, we are trying every day to keep it together for everyone—our families, our church, our jobs and somewhere along the way we get lost and forget that we used to have fun! When I hear someone say they're feeling like this, then I tell them about Women in the Outdoors.
NWTF: What is so special about Women in the Outdoors to you?
CL: It's through WITO that I met my best friend, Renee O'Brokta. When I met Renee, it was like we knew each other forever. We will be friends forever. I also have close friends all over the state of Ohio and many, many other wonderful people I have in my daily life thanks to WITO. It's been a blessing, as I had an empty nest. So WITO filled an important void and boy, do I love it!
NWTF: What keeps bringing you back to Women in the Outdoors events?
CL: Well, I am still involved as coordinator for the Johnstown event. I have been able to recruit my mom JoAnn to cook lunch for all, my niece Kate does the scheduling for the event and my sister-in-law helps us sell raffle tickets.
I love people, and I love trying new activities. It's a great feeling when you see one the girls very excited about what they accomplished during a WITO event. I love the look in their eyes, the smile on their face and how fast they talk. It gives me goosebumps. Their day at a WITO event has changed how they feel about themselves. It is great to watch this happen right in front of your very own eyes and receive a hug!
NWTF: What is your favorite Women in the Outdoors event memory?
CL: I went to the Ohio state event in 2006. I took an awareness class, and we had to walk in the woods with a blindfold over our eyes as we walked toward a drumming sound.
I was able to maneuver around trees and other obstacles for over 50 yards with a blindfold on. It was amazing. But the funny part is that two hours later, I went to Wendy's on my way home and I tripped and fell over the curb in the parking lot, which was painted bright yellow!
I tore up both my knees and elbows, but I laid in the parking lot, laughing my butt off. I could hardly walk for a week. I guess I'm only "aware" when I have a blindfold on!
NWTF: Why should women attend a Women in the Outdoors event?
CL: It's a way to check out of the real world, play, meet new people and enjoy outdoor activities. There just might be a new hobby waiting on the horizon for you!