There are some amazing women in the outdoor world; many I am proud to call friends and colleagues. Here’s my list from A to Z of women making a difference in their own unique ways. I respect this group of gals and here’s why (please forgive the need to use a last letter rather than a first letter on occasion to make this fit).
A: Nancy Jo Adams
Nancy Jo is a hardcore hunter and I love her social media flare. She names her truck (Cletus) and her bow (Thalia) and balances enjoying the outdoors while blogging and uncovering great photography. Plus, as a Northerner, I need friends who show pictures of their meals with okra as a regular side dish.
B: Britney Starr
From jumping into competition shooting, African safaris and upland game hunting with her bird dogs, Britney (who also writes for OutdoorHub) is a great advocate for enjoying all the shooting sports.
C: Barb Carey
The Pied Piper of female anglers, Barb Carey teaches and leads the way for women to wet a line. She’s passionate about the outdoors (especially ice fishing) and passes on new skills and knowledge throughout the Upper Midwest.
D: Hilary Dyer
Armed with her red pen and near-fanaticism for all things grammatically correct, Dyer leads the way for women to rise to editorial ranks in the world of outdoor magazines at Grandview Outdoors. It is a small group. However, I have now added incredible pressure to double- and triple-proof this story in anticipation of the infamous red pen. Doh!
E: Christen Everly
Christen is a digital media and advertising guru and puts together some of the best ad campaigns on the web for her clients through GunBroker.com and other Media Lodge properties. She knows her stuff and is a pretty good left-handed shooter.
F: Alexis Steffen and Trisha Bowen Steffen
Well, they’ve got four “F”s between the two of them. This mother/daughter team impresses me regularly with their passion for healthy, outdoor living. From trapping to hunting, they are hands-on all the way. I love how Alexis, at only 11 years old, has already learned so much from her mom’s respect for the land and the animals taken for food and provision.
G: Doreen Garrett
As a girl, Doreen founded the gun cleaning product that would launch an entire company known today as Otis Technology. She’s still on the board, although she has passed on the baton of day-to-day CEO duties—giving her more time to hunt. She’s earned it. I’m impressed with a woman who not only enjoys the outdoors but created a company benefiting hundreds of employees and exponentially more shooters/hunters around the world who use her company’s products. Incredible. Doreen reminds me to be innovative and dream big.
H: Marianne Pfister Huskey
Not only is Marianne an incredible professional walleye angler, but she is a savvy businesswoman with a big heart. I’m so impressed with her ability to market her skills and promote her sponsors’ products. Give her a wave next time you see her Matzuo-wrapped Ram truck and Lund boat.
I: Kali Parmley
Kali is on this list as a communications specialist with United States Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA). A talented graphic designer and writer, Kali has grown to love hunting and this outdoor industry in just three years post-college. We meet regularly during industry conferences like SEOPA and POMA. This is just a little reminder to all of us women in the outdoors; we need both mentors and mentees. Do it. And attend the conferences, where you can meet more people.
J: Tisma Juett
They broke the mold after Tisma Juett, so there’s no one else like her, and I respect that. She’s bold, yet shy; hardworking, yet playful; her work in the outdoors has led her to steer the First Shots program with National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF). I look up to Tisma and her omnipresent smile. Plus, we share a love for all things Chicago. Bond!
K: Karen Lee
Quiet leadership with editorial gravitas, Karen is a great example of being mentored into the industry and does a great job at the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF).
L: Lydia Lohrer
As the only woman outdoor newspaper columnist for a major market, that being the Detroit Free Press, Lydia takes a prominent leadership position. She writes great stories and covers interesting topics in an editorial environment about as knowledgeable or interested in the outdoors as, well, I think I will just draw on Grandma’s advice now and be quiet. The reality is that traditional outdoor sports are covered less and less in major newspapers. Lydia is a great asset to the outdoors and a leader for all women writers.
M: Melanie Swearingen
Like her counterpart Karen Lee, Melanie enjoys working for the NWTF and they seem so together in supporting women there. Melanie steers social media content and is a great advocate for women enjoying turkey hunting.
N: Sharon Rushton
For several decades, Sharon has not only been a leader for professional anglers, but even more so a leader opening the doors of fishing to youth through the curriculum she founded and wrote Hooked on Fishing, Not on Drugs. She’s a tremendous writer, author, angler, and friend. Get her book No Paved Road to Freedom for a freedom-living family member this Christmas. She inspires me to write big things.
O: Olivia Nalos Opre
This tiny little lady packs a big-game punch, and her résumé of successful African safaris is incredibly impressive. A recent Diana Award winner for Safari Club International, she is fearless.
P: Linda Powell
While I don’t know Linda well, because of the book I’m writing about Jim Zumbo and his life story, we’ve become more acquainted this last year and I’m so impressed with her career in the outdoor world with Remington (previously) and now with Mossberg. Linda is a key influencer in the business and I respect her very much.
Q: Karen McQuoid
As a team-format walleye angler with her husband and owner of an ice fishing resort on Lake Mille Lacs in Minnesota, Karen reminds me to keep family in the outdoors. The accomplishments we achieve are sweeter when the memories are with the folks we care about the most.
R: Rochelle Chouinard
To me, Rochelle represents all the women who work in the industry who might not hold a CEO or celebrity position, but you’ll find them working tirelessly in marketing, advertising, sales, or production. They are the glue holding their companies together. I am not always sure the executives in the corner offices understand the hard work and dedication the Rochelles of the industry give to their brands, but I know the customers and prostaff at Navionics appreciate this one.
S: Lisa Snuggs
A skilled communicator in her own right, Lisa is the executive director of one of the finest writer’s associations out there. She’s wonderfully calm and a professional captain of the SEOPA ship.
T: Tammy Sapp
Tammy is a skilled, award-winning writer and her résumé includes stints at NWTF and Kalkomey, and is now director of communications at Bass Pro Shops. I love a lady whose laugh penetrates any grey day (and any white noise in the room). Tammy reminds me to keep it fun.
U: Jessica Mundt
I don’t think I’ve ever met Jessica in person, but through a friend-of-a-friend we became acquainted via social media (and, well, she does have a “U” in her name). She has a drive and passion for the outdoors, and it doesn’t matter what season it is, either. Jessica reminds me we can make friends in this industry even if we’ve never shared a conference or a boat or a blind together. It is a big world out there.
V: Brenda Valentine
The first lady of hunting, and she was the first name I entered on this roster. I respect her knowledge, hard work, and longevity in an industry that hasn’t always welcomed women into its ranks. Brenda Valentine paved the way for many of us, and I couldn’t be prouder then to call her friend.
W: Dena Witt Woerner
Writing and PR go hand-in-hand for this Southern angler, and she’s stretching her geographical boundaries to enjoy Northern offerings, too—including ice fishing. Dena reminds me to break out of my comfort zones.
X: Xtina Holden
Okay, it is Christina, but it worked for Christina Aguilera. Like Linda Powell, I’ve connected with Christina over the Zumbo book project. Since 2006, her work helping wounded warriors get back outdoors deserves a 21-gun salute in my book. Often tirelessly behind the scenes, the warriors and their families know her heart, dedication, and hard work. Christina personifies the spirit of volunteerism giving time, talent, and resources for our wounded soldiers who have sacrificed so much for our country.
For all the gals who read this and think it is a who’s who of the outdoor industry, it isn’t. You could just as easily compile a similar list of the women in your circle. Who do you admire and respect? Recognize what they mean to you. To every woman who takes up a rod and reel, bow, gun or trap line, God bless you. You are the fastest-growing segment in the outdoors today and truly our future. We’ve all heard the mantra, “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” I’ll add, “If momma is an outdoors woman, the whole crew is going to be an outdoors family.” You go girl!
Z: Carrie Zylka
She’s probably used to be the last in line, but Carrie Zylka is a breath of fresh air. Thousands subscribe to her outdoor podcasts. She’s real and fun, and is just as willing to share lessons learned as bragging up a successful conclusion. She’s also a veteran and so to Carrie and any of the other veterans in this list or reading this: thank you for your service.
K.J. Houtman is the author of the award-winning Fish On Kids Books series, chapter books for eight- to 12-year-olds with adventures based around fishing, camping, and hunting. Her work is available at Amazon and local bookstores. Find out more at fishonkidsbooks.com.