Two women hiking with mountains in the background

OWL: Whoooooo’s In for an Exciting Future?

By Hazel Stark, Co-Founder of Maine Outdoor School, L3C, and Zabet NeuCollins, Assistant Director of Women for Healthy Rural Living

When we first started planning the Outdoor Women Lead (OWL) program series during the fall of 2019, we had no idea that in a matter of months, COVID would necessitate rethinking the program altogether. Fortunately, Women for Healthy Rural Living (WHRL) and Maine Outdoor School, L3C (MOS) were up to the challenge.

The pandemic provided a heightened opportunity to encourage safe outdoor experiences. While we couldn’t provide in-person programming, we knew that we could still meet OWL’s goal to strengthen women and girls’ confidence in the outdoors by teaching outdoor and naturalist skills. How? Through a series of videos and blogs posts accessible to anyone with internet.

The videos provided nature journaling inspiration, information about how to identify insects and plants, how to set up a campsite, and our latest video, how to canoe. The blog posts addressed female-specific barriers in the outdoors: safety, hygiene, and meeting needs where there are no toilets.

In the end, we reached more than 6000 people on Facebook and Instagram, were promoted in three newspapers, published five informative videos that had more than 250 views in total, and were able to deliver on our goal of creating outdoor and naturalist skills to girls, women, and the general community.

Even though the virtual OWL series has concluded, we have three exciting announcements about OWL’s future:

  1. If you’d like a chance to go canoeing with Hazel and Zabet, take the OWL quiz! A winner will be randomly selected from the people who answer the most questions correctly. The winner, who will be announced on 2/1/21, can bring a guest of choice on the paddling adventure.
  2. Join the OWL Outing Club! Explore the outdoors with like-minded women! Geared towards the beginner outdoor enthusiast, the OWL outing club will meet several times throughout the spring and summer in Downeast Maine. The OWL outing club was sponsored by the Davis Conservation Fund.
  3. Get ready for OWLette, a girls’ day camp focused on building outdoor competencies and stewardship skills. These day camps will be based at the Milbridge Commons Wellness Park during summer 2021, and were generously sponsored by Healthy Acadia’s Downeast Maine Partnerships for Success Fund and by the Maine Community Foundation. More information soon!

More information about all of these exciting opportunities will come soon! In the meantime, visit OWL’s webpage: https://whrl.org/programs/owl. There, you can subscribe for email updates specific to OWL, review past content, and support this program through a tax-deductible donation. Subscribing to OWL’s email list is the best way to keep up to date with future OWL programs. And don’t forget to join OWL’s Facebook group!

You can stay informed about Maine Outdoor School’s offerings, including OWL, by signing up for the MOS e-newsletter here.

We are so excited that the momentum and enthusiasm for OWL continues to grow and we look forward to seeing you outside sometime soon!