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Outdoor Women at Big Oaks

June 10th, 2023

Outdoor Women at Big Oaks (OWBO) is a 1 day event for women, ages 12 and over, who want to learn basic skills and appreciation about an environment that encourages fun and success in the outdoors. Courses such as fishing, canoeing, bird watching, archery, and much more! All activities begin and end at the beautiful historic Old Timbers Lodge. Only 110 spots are available, so register early! 

*Registration is non-refundable and prices are subject to change

To register, you can email the registration form (pdf file below) to BUT you MUST MAIL in your form of payment to:

Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge Office


1661 West JPG Niblo Road

Madison, IN 47250

Registration fees:

  • $55 per person for members (BOCS) if postmarked before May 6th.

  • $65 per person for non-member (BOCS) if postmarked before May 6th.

  • $70 per person for BOCS membership & event registration if postmarked before May 6th.

  • $35 for participants 12-22 years of age. Must take same classes as guardian/parent if under 18.

  • $80 per person from May 7th thru May 25th

Your registration fee includes:

  • Welcome gift

  • 4 classes (including all class materials)

  • Continental breakfast, lunch, and refreshments

  • Day Pass to Big Oaks NWR

Event Schedule:
07:45 -- 09:00 AM : Welcome, Breakfast, and Refuge Safety Briefing (required) at Old Timbers Lodge
09:00 -- 04:00 PM : Class Sessions and Lunch
04:00 -- 04:45 PM : Re-group for wrap up and evaluations

Food Descriptions

Turkey Pesto Wrap – Turkey with pesto in a wrap, a side of bowtie pasta salad, and a brownie/blondie for dessert  

Ham & Swiss on Rye - Ham with Swiss cheese on rye bread, a side of bowtie pasta salad, and a brownie/blondie for dessert 

Vegan/Gluten Free - Veggies & Hummus on gluten free roll, a side of tomato and green pepper quinoa salad, and a gluten free vegan chocolate chip cookie  

2023 Course Descriptions

Archery 101 - Learn basic archery skills through hands-on experience with modern archery equipment while aiming at a target. Requires a short walk on a gravel road to archery site.

Art from Nature - Learn how to make nature a part of your artwork! No drawing experience needed.

Backpacking 101 - An introductory course on backpacking and backcountry camping skills. 

Backyard Composting - Making Food and Yard Waste Wonderful! An introduction to backyard composting on a human scale, using a three pile system. All participants will receive a step-by-step handout and compost thermometer, courtesy of the Urban Soil Health program.

Beekeeping - Gain an understanding of the important roles that pollinators play in our environment. Learn about the basic knowledge of beekeeping, including the honey bee life cycles, and dynamics of the colony used in establishing and keeping a working hive for the production of honey. 

Birdhouse Building - Learn how to provide wildlife habitat using plants and native materials in your yard. Plus build a birdhouse! 

Birdwatching - Refuge Manager Joe Robb will guide you through the woods of Big Oaks NWR to find some of our many different species of birds. You can’t help but find his enthusiasm contagious as he teaches you about binoculars, field guides, and birding by ear! Be sure to wear hiking shoes for a slow walk in our woods. Binoculars and field guides will be provided, but you are welcome to bring your own. 

Campfire Building - Tinder bundle, tinder, kindling, fuel wood, oh my! Learn how to build a fire by selecting the correct size of fuel to start and maintain a campfire. You'll learn different types of campfires and what kind of fire is needed for cooking. By the end of the class, you will be able to start a fire with no more than two matches. Closed-toe shoes are highly recommended.

Campfire Cooking - There's nothing like cooking over an open fire (or hot coal bed)! Learn useful methods for primitive cooking outdoors. Closed-toe shoes are highly recommended.

Canoeing & Kayaking - Learn how to get in and out of a canoe or kayak while staying dry, and practice paddling methods, including how to travel in a straight line. This course is taught on a lake, so be prepared; you may get wet! Bring extra pair of clothes and a towel... just in case. Sunscreen, hat, and sunglasses are also recommended. 

Crossbow & Tree Stand 101 - An introduction to loading and shooting a crossbow for either target shooting or hunting. In addition, learn how to safely climb a tree with several types of hunting tree stands. Closed-toe shoes are required.

Edible Plants - Go “organic” and discover local plants you can use for food or medicine! Bring a hand lens to get a closer look at these plants and be prepared to walk in the woods. 

Fillet A Fish - Learn how to fillet a fish by using cardboard replicas then try to fillet a fish yourself! 

Find Your Way! (with a map & compass) - Learn how to use a map and compass, and test your new skills to walk a short orienteering course in the woods. Bring your own map compass (not a map AND compass) if you have them! Hiking gear and a notebook are recommended. 

Firearm Familiarity - Experience a live firearm demonstration! Gain a basic understanding of firearm safety, and get hands-on instructions, while practicing firing with handguns and rifles. All equipment is provided. 

Fishing 101 - Fishing with a fly rod is the natural way to catch fish! This course will provide you with enough instruction to start you off in the right direction for years of fly fishing adventures. All equipment is provided. Mud boots and bug spray are highly recommended. 

Get Growing! (Veggie Garden) - Learn the basics of starting your own backyard garden. We will cover everything from seed starting to feeding your soil!  

Herps: Finding & Catching - Learn about the common reptiles and amphibians of Indiana, where to find them, how to catch them, and the proper way to handle them. Then participate in a search and capture of a common herp in the woods and in a creek. Bring clothes and shoes that can get wet.

Hypertufa Planter Making - Create and take home a lightweight, rustic, textured planter that won’t break from freezing like a terra cotta pot! 

Invasive & Native Plant Hike - Take a walk along the creek and through the woods to explore why invasive plants are the elephant in the room that we need to address. Explore why native plants are a necessity for living landscapes by turning over rocks, exploring bark, and the underside of plant leaves to help you get a feel for what's growing where and why. Bring a small hand lens and a set of binoculars if you have them. Hiking gear is highly recommended. 

Knot Knowledge - Reef knot, timber hitch, bowline, sheet bend, taut line… Selecting the right knot can be critical in outdoor pursuits. Learn how to tie the basic knots necessary for camping, canoeing, and hiking. This course assumes the participants have little to no experience with knots. All Participants will get to keep a practice rope. 

Landscaping for Wildlife - Investigate the landscape at the refuge to discover ways that we can incorporate natural features in your own yard to increase the biodiversity in your area.  Please be prepared to take a hike and get a little dirty! Gardening gloves and hiking gear are recommended.  

Maple Syrup - Learn a short history of maple syrup, how to identify maple trees, and the tools needed for sap collection. Explore the process of creating maple syrup from start to finish, and get a chance to try it yourself. Taste test included! 

Mushrooms: Fungus Among Us - Explore the trails and woods near Old Timbers Lodge while hunting for mushrooms and slime molds to gain some basic identification skills. No experience necessary! Just bring a magnifying glass if you have one. Walking shoes are recommended. 

Paper Bag Basketry - Have lots of brown paper grocery bags? Want to upcycle them? Take this course to learn how to weave them into a sturdy, attractive basket! Supplies will be provided. 

Seasons and Sketching - Learn about nature's cycles and how to keep a nature journal to record your connections, observations, and experiences. You don't need to be an artist! You can bring a journal and color pencils but notebooks will be provided. 

Self Defense - Having the knowledge and courage to protect yourself is important. Learn the basics of self-defense with verbal and physical strategies to deal with aggressive confrontations. There will be drills and stimulated attack scenarios, so active participation is encouraged. Participants must be ready to have fun! 

Smartphone Photography - The best camera is the one that's always with you! Learn the tips and tricks to get the best wildlife photos out of your smartphone. Bring your smartphone with either a power bank or fully charged, and shoes for walking in the woods.

Trap Shooting - Learn the basics of firearm safety and trap shooting, including proper gun mounting and leading the target, so you can try shooting sporting clays! All equipment is provided. 

Wild Water - This course will provide a look into the importance of clean drinking water and teach you how to purify water in the wild! 

Wilderness First Aid - Learn what first aid materials to bring into the wilderness, how to prevent and treat the common injuries in the outdoors, and how to handle bigger environmental issues such as lightning injuries and heat illnesses. 

Yoga - This lighthearted and fun course is a great opportunity for beginners to move their bodies while learning the foundations of yoga in the great outdoors! Learn how to incorporate simple breathing techniques, yoga poses, and mindfulness practices to leave you feeling relaxed and more connected to not only your body but also nature. We’ll shake things up in a way that feels good and supportive for all bodies! Bring a yoga mat or towel. 

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