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Outdoor Women at Big Oaks

June 15th, 2024

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

Registration is capped at 110 participants, so register soon!

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
Please let us know if you have any food allergies or health issues

Turkey Pesto Wrap – Honey bourbon glazed chicken wrap, chips, summer cucumber pasta salad, salted caramel brownie

Pulled Pork Sandwich - Sriracha bourbon pulled pork sandwich, chips, summer cucumber pasta salad, caramel pretzel brownie

Vegan/Gluten Free - Teriyaki roasted cashew and veggie wrap, chips, summer cucumber pasta salad, salted caramel brownie

2024 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.

Atlatl throwing - Learn the history and get a short safety lesson on how to throw an atlatl. An atlatl is a spear throwing tool used by Native Americans and Eskimos. Have a throwing competition!

Backpacking Fundamentals - Excited to expand your skills and knowledge of backpacking and backcountry camping? Come learn about some of the tools and supplies you can use for wilderness exploring, while also learning basic backpacking skills that everyone can use, such as water purification and keeping your socks dry.

Basics of Personal Protection - Learn the basics of being aware and escaping dangerous situations.

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

Children in the Outdoors - Find fun ways and places to get kids outdoors.

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. 

Find Your Way! (with a map & compass) - Learn how to feel comfortable finding your way with a compass. 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. 

Fly Fishing - It's a Girl Thing - Learn the basics of fly fishing, the gear, and casting a fly rod. You'll be ready to fish your Indiana home waters for bass, bluegill, and more. Anything you fish for, you can catch with a fly rod. It's a sport for a lifetime!

From Sunlight to Syrup - Learn the ancient art of transforming humble tree sap into sticky, sweet syrup. And here is the cool can do it at home with simple equipment. You will leave the workshop with all the information you need to make your own syrup at home. It's easier than you think!

Get Growing! (Veggie Garden) - Learn the basics of starting your own backyard garden. From seed starting to feeding your soil, we'll cover the nuts and bolts of growing your own vegetables.

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

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.  

Living Green - Ideas to live environmentally friendly.

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

Natives aren't just "For the Birds - We'll sample spicebush gingersnaps and a few other treats that use native plants that pair well in the landscape and on the dinner table.

Nature Connection - Join me for an hour of nature reconnection that will help us slow down in our busy lives, notice the systems and organisms around us, and give us space to explore our own connections to nature spaces while forming new ones in the process.

Outdoor Adventure Dog - Before there were house dogs, there were outdoor adventure dogs! Now we can have house dogs that enjoy outdoor adventure! From camping to kayaking and from hiking to hunting, learn about different ways to safely engage with your canine companion in the great outdoors. You both will be happier for the time spent in the wide, open spaces!

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. 

Rustic Vine Basket - Using vines and garden vegetation, weave a rustic basket that is uniquely yours. You can bring special garden and nature finds to incorporate into your basket.

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 Game Cooking -. A taste of the wild will provide participants with a mix of hands-on wild game preparation as well as opportunities to try a variety of wild game dishes. Participants will leave the session with yummy recipes and some insights into the hunter/gather life style.

Wild Water - Learn potential problems with “wild” water - what makes it unsafe for human consumption. Learn historical facts on water safety; where to look for water (in our area only); warning signs of contamination; how much water you need; how to delay (or avoid) dehydration; signs & symptoms of dehydration; how to collect water (tarps, solar stills, plants, etc.) and how to filter water using various methods.

Yoga Foundations: Planting Healthy Roots - 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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