Oregon County's Lori Stickler attended the National Wild Turkey Federation's three-day event celebrating the NWTF's 10-year anniversary of its Women in the Outdoors outreach program, which proved to be full of surprises for more than 300 women in attendance.
Stickler recently joined women from across the country, as well as Canada, at the Wild Turkey Center in Edgefield, S.C., to "Learn, Laugh and Lighten Up," the theme of this year's national event.
All participants had the opportunity to enjoy more than 30 hands-on classes, including fly fishing, kayaking, camping, Dutch oven cooking, outdoor photography, archery, shotgunning, ATV safety, turkey calling and much more, in a beginner-friendly, stress-free environment.
Unexpectedly, participants received a special message from Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin during the event's opening festivities. NWTF CEO George Thornton read a letter from Palin, an avid hunter, angler and outdoorswoman, addressing the women who attended the event.
The women in attendance also enjoyed a surprise appearance and speech by Brenda Valentine, the NWTF's new spokeswoman. Known as the outdoor industry's "First Lady of Hunting," Valentine made her debut as the NWTF's official spokeswoman Sept. 26. Valentine's wide-ranging talents include that of an accomplished author, photographer, videographer and radio personality and she is the first female inducted into the Legends of the Outdoors Hall of Fame.
Valentine makes regular appearances on the new Bass Pro Shops' "King of Bucks" program on the Outdoor Channel, and is also a host of the Bass Pro Shops' "Real Hunting" show that airs weekly on the Versus Network.
As spokeswoman, Valentine will make appearances on the NWTF's television shows and contribute to the NWTF's Women In The Outdoors magazine.
"I am honored and excited to have been invited to serve as the first official spokeswoman for the NWTF," said Valentine. "I have been a friend and supporter of the NWTF for many years and am now looking forward to a more active role in helping all staff and members to further enhance the future of the wild turkey and our hunting heritage."
In addition to hearing from Palin and Valentine, who have brought positive attention to the outdoor industry, participants were treated to speeches by Peggy Anne Vallery, the NWTF's second woman president, and Laurie Lee Dovey, acclaimed author, photographer and speaker.
Since 1998, the NWTF's Women in the Outdoors program has worked to share the outdoor tradition by providing expert instruction and hands-on education through events designed for women.
During its inaugural year, Women in the Outdoors hosted 18 events and today the program organizes more than 400 events across the nation.
For more information about the NWTF visit www.nwtf.org or call 800-THE-NWTF.