FRIEDENSBURG – Spending a day afield or on the water with one's spouse can be a rewarding and enjoyable outdoors experience.
Learning how to use a spinning rod or load a rifle from one's spouse, however, can be trying for both parties.
For that reason, the Schuylkill County Sportsmen's Association hit on the unique idea to introduce women – age 16 and older – to the outdoors world with its Women's Outdoors Day. This year, the 10th Women's Outdoors Day will be held Saturday, Aug. 20, beginning with registration at 7:30 a.m., at Friedensburg Fish and Game Association, 169 Stone Mountain Road, and the final session expected to end by 3 p.m.
Participants are requested to preregister for the free event by Saturday, Aug. 13, because lunch is included. This can be done by contacting Christy Zulli at the Schuylkill County Conservation District office by calling 570-622-3742, Ext. 114, or emailing her at email@example.com.
Highlighting this year's event will be the presentation of the seminar "Edible Wild Plants" by nationally known author and lecturer Kermit Henning. He is a life member and past president and chairman of the board of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association, a past president and chairman of the board of the Mason-Dixon Outdoor Writers Association and a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America.
Henning has been an outdoors writer, photographer and lecturer for more than three decades, being published in local, regional and national magazines and newspapers. He is also the author of "A Foragers Field Guide" and "The Pennsylvania Sportsman Fish & Game Cookbook."
Now retired from teaching English and German in the Harrisburg City School District, Henning spent a year teaching in an Inuit village in the Quebec, Canada Arctic. He has traveled, hunted and fished extensively throughout Canada and Eastern United States and the Dakotas.
Henning is a native of Allentown, a graduate of Mansfield University and has done graduate work at Penn State University, Temple, Millersville and Shippensburg. He is currently the host of WHTM-TV's ABC27 Outdoors as well as the outdoor columnist for The Burg newspaper.
For the past 27 years, Henning has spearheaded the POWA Sportsmen's Auction held each year at the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show. In that time, more than $350,000 has been raised to sponsor youth educational projects throughout Pennsylvania.
Thousands of young people have benefited from the monies raised, through youth field days, conservation camps, Boy Scouts, shooting sports, fishing derbies, Audubon programs, public school projects and many more. In addition, the funds raised have funded scholarships at Penn State University and the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown for journalism majors with an interest in communication the outdoors.
Henning makes his home in Mechanicsburg where he brings together a natural and professional interest in communicating his outdoor skills and experiences.
"I first began doing seminars on edible wild plants in the late 1970's for various state parks in the area," Henning said. "A friend of mine was a ranger at Micheaux State Park and asked me to do a program for the campers there.
"This soon spilled over to other parks, Boy Scouts groups, garden clubs, sportsmen's clubs and so on. I also did classes for the Pennsylvania Game Commission for its WCO training classes."
What sets WOD apart from similar outdoors events for women, such as those sponsored by the National Wild Turkey Federation and National Rifle Association, is that qualified women instructors teach the various courses. In some cases, the instructors have won championships in the events they are teaching.
Tentatively scheduled are classes in archery, canoeing, fishing, muzzleloader, shotgun, .22-caliber pistol and .22-caliber rifle. These are all hands-on activities and participation is voluntary.
WOD is one of three educational events held by the SCSA, along with a youth field day and the three-day Norm Thornburg Youth Conservation Camp. Event coordinator Dennis Scharadin said the idea to hold the day came after many women asked for such an event when they attended youth field day as chaperons.
"When time permits, adults who chaperon children at youth field day have the opportunity to shoot at the various stations, and that prompted requests to have a day just for women," Scharadin said. "There was a lot of disappointment last year when a scheduling conflict prevented us from having the event, but this year's should be one of the best ever with Kermit coming to present his program."