Hometown: North Freedom, Wis.
Hometown Chapter: Glacier Valley Gobblers, Reedsburg
NWTF: You found the strength to hit the woods and pursue your passions during such difficult times in your life. What do you attribute that ability to?
Ronda Lehman: I am not one to let anything stop me from what I want to accomplish. I am a breast cancer survivor, and shot my first buck during treatment for cancer. It was an incredible day to have a radiation treatment in the morning, take a nap and then enjoy a beautiful day in the woods; to harvest my first buck on top of that was pretty cool. I also harvested my first turkey the following spring after breaking my neck in a car accident. It has been through difficult times in my life that I have found being outdoors so relaxing. When I could not do things I would normally do at home, I would go to the woods, relax and enjoy nature. The woods are such a peaceful and spiritual place. I also think that, by going to the woods, I told myself inside that I was not going to let cancer or a broken neck take anything away from me.
NWTF: How has being involved with Women in the Outdoors enriched your life?
RL: When I attended a one-day Women in the Outdoors event and learned more about the NWTF, it was definitely a now that I have tried it, Im hooked situation. I have made new friends through the Women in the Outdoors program and learned so many things about the outdoors that I can share with my children. I am much more confident and able to enjoy something we all love with my family. When I had cancer, the NWTF members were extremely supportive. Our chapters committee members would have done anything for me or taken care of anything I needed while I received my cancer treatments. They are just awesome people.
NWTF: What do you think sets the Women in the Outdoors hunting heritage program apart from other programs?
RL: I really think it is unique to have a program that is so centered on women. And it is impressive that volunteers do all the instruction and work. The volunteers really work hard to make sure every woman of any age or skill level feels comfortable. The program offers a wide variety of activities for those who like to hunt and for those who prefer not to. There are classes for nearly any interest, and our chapter is always looking for different classes to hold. The other neat thing about the NWTF is that by becoming a member, you have already contributed something. But if you want to contribute even more, there are unlimited ways to get involved. If you are knowledgeable about something, you can share it with others by instructing a class. Or if you want to learn more about something, you can through attending classes. I have found that I am interested in a bunch of things I did not even know about before, and I always try a new class when I get the opportunity to.
NWTF: What do you think is the key to getting more women involved in the outdoors?
RL: Since we all want to spend more time with our children, I really believe sparking the interest of children will encourage more women to become involved in the outdoors.
NWTF: Why do you feel it is important for others to join the NWTF?
RL: Seeing the percentage of hunters dwindle each year is scary. Being an NWTF member helps support the future of not only the wild turkey but also nature and the outdoors. It helps to offer as much education as we can, because I do not think some people understand that being an outdoors person does not necessarily mean you have to harvest anything. It just means you are enjoying what God has put on the earth for us to enjoy.