Becoming an Outdoors-Woman Workshops Set for 2004

Tom Harvey, 512-389-4453,

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AUSTIN, Texas — Sharon Fahlberg and her twin sister have always loved the outdoors. "My parents took us camping when we were 6 months old," she said. "I think we have old pictures of diapers spread across clotheslines."

But when she moved to Texas several years ago, she "didn’t know where to go or what to do." Then Fahlberg heard about Becoming an Outdoors-Woman, a workshop put on several times a year by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to introduce women to hunting, fishing, horseback riding and other outdoor activities. She went with her sister and was hooked on what the Lone Star State has to offer.

Fahlberg is one of more than 3,000 women who have participated in one of the workshops since they began in Texas in October 1993. The program, which just celebrated its 10th birthday, will be holding four workshops across Texas in the spring and fall of 2004 with topics ranging from plant and animal ecology, map and compass skills, and outdoor cooking to mountain biking and flyfishing.

Upcoming locations include Camp Buckner, near Marble Falls (March 12-14), Prude Ranch in Fort Davis (April 16-18), and the Texas Baptist Encampment in Palacios (May 21-23). Camp For All, near Brenham, will hold a fall workshop Oct. 29-31.

Ashley Mathews, TPWD’s BOW coordinator, said she sees a diversity of women attend each conference, from 18 years of age to 80. Participants can choose four classes to take out of the 15-20 offered at the workshop. Mathews said it’s rewarding to see something like a woman catching her first fish at age 52.

"A lot of people come to overcome fears: fears of firearms, fears of horses, fear of water," Mathews said. "Most of them are amazed this is as easy as it is. We see a huge surge in women’s self confidence."

The workshops have become so popular in Texas that several women were coming back again and again because they couldn’t find people at home to join them in the outdoors. And the Texas Outdoors Woman Network was born to give BOW graduates the chance to continue hiking and camping with other women in their cities.

"We’re hoping to teach them skills, build their confidence, then gently push them out of the nest," Mathews said. As for Fahlberg, she enjoyed the Texas outdoors so much she founded the Dallas TOWN chapter a few years ago.

"It just took a little time to find out, ’wow, there really are things to do,’" she said. Now her chapter has kayaking and camping trips, outdoor survival classes and more each year.

"We go just about everywhere."

For more information about a conference, call Mathews at (512) 389-8198 or visit the Web site (