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Event Article – by Amy Graham, Independent Writer, Galena, Illinois

On a picture-perfect Midwestern spring day, Saturday, May 19, 2012, over 75 women descended upon the Torstenson Family Youth Conservation Education Center in Pecatonica, Illinois for an adventurous day they would soon not forget.

This 1st ever Northwestern Illinois WITO event was spearheaded by Marcia Polhamus, member of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), along with 30+ volunteers. Marcia has been involved with the NWTF for many years, including numerous Jakes and WITO outreach programs. She is actively involved as a statewide Jakes coordinator for the Illinois chapter of the NWTF along with her husband, Ken. The Polhamus’ have been members of Pheasants Forever for more than 10 years, as well as lifetime members and habitat partners for Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Marcia’s passion for sharing her knowledge and love for the outdoors was definitely evident as she hosted this event for local women.

This event brought together many instructors offering different classroom and field shooting sessions covering basic handgun, air rifle and shotgun skills and safety, elements of basic archery, self-defense deterrents for protection, as well as some more craft-oriented sessions such as soap making, pressed flowers, quilting, gardening, container planting, and jewelry making. “The look on their faces (while shooting) is priceless!” declared Sandy Farnham, employee of KAPGUNS and NRA instructor for Pine Tree Pistol Club.

Part of the mission of WITO is to provide outdoor educational opportunities for women by affording benefits such as building skills to help increase outdoor enjoyment, learning the importance of wildlife management, involving families in conservation, and providing a network for women with similar interests. Many women commented throughout the day of having a feeling of empowerment. One woman was quoted as saying “My husband hunts, so I wanted to learn and not be afraid of guns.”

When one participant was asked about what she liked most about this event, she stated, “What was not to like? It was one of the best Saturdays spent!“ The energy and enthusiasm of the women lasted the entire day and capped off with a fun-filled class on the basics of wine appreciation and tasting. The atmosphere was incredibly jovial and buoyant, keeping the women hanging around, reluctant to leave the friendships they had created that day. The overall success of this event was evident when many left asking “I hope you have this offered next year. I’ll bring more friends!”

“My husband has generously volunteered me for next year,” exclaimed Marcia, “I’m not sure when it will be yet.”. “You did such a great job and I just want to see if you can do it again!” chides her husband Ken.

Needless to say there will be many women looking for the announcement of the 2013 Northwestern Illinois WITO event.