Something clicked with Jennifer Foster in 2011. She saw a need and filled it, killing two birds with one well-placed shot, by sharing her passion for the outdoors while discovering a talent she had been in search of.
Foster, now the NWTF Women in the Outdoors Coordinator for Kansas, joined her local chapter five years ago and jumped right in, assisting with a JAKES event. She discovered WITO, heard it had not been heavily promoted in prior years and wanted to run with it.
“In my area of the state, and I am sure in other states as well, there are a lot of single moms and grandmothers raising their children and grandchildren. A lot of those women don’t feel comfortable taking kids into the outdoors, because they have not been exposed to it themselves or just don’t have a level of confidence to do so,” Foster said.
She worked with then regional director Steve Barlow, now NWTF director of development for the West, and the Kansas Department of Wildlife to organize a way to create a hunter in one day. Her first WITO event certified participants in hunter education, got them a license and then took them hunting in the same day. It was a first-of-its-kind idea, and one that earned national praise.
“These are our success stories: Women, children and families in the great outdoors, learning and growing as a family, as hunters and protectors of our privileges to be passed down for many generations to come,” she said.
Foster, 38, had served as secretary for her local NWTF chapter, Kansas First Upland Pioneers of Iola, Kansas, prior to being named state WITO coordinator in June.
“Jennifer is an incredible leader and has a passion for the NWTF and getting more women involved in the outdoors,” said Derek Payne, NWTF regional director in Kansas and Missouri.
Don Erbert, First Kansas Upland Pioneers’ chairman and vice president of the Kansas NWTF State Chapter, tells an anecdote that sums up Foster’s passion best.
“At Jennifer’s last state WITO event, she got up in front of close to a hundred women,” Erbert said. “With tears running down her cheeks and her voice breaking up a bit, Jennifer looked at those women and told them that she, for the first time in her life, had found a calling; that through the NWTF, she had found a purpose for her life: to pass on her passion for the outdoors.”