How Women in the Outdoors Works

By: Libby Little
Hunter with rifle in outdoor forest.
Young woman with riffle holding a dead willow ptarmigan in her hand in the forest in Lapland, Finland
Lauri Rotko/Gorilla Creative/Getty Images

Traditionally, it's been thought that men lik­e to participate in outdoor activities such as hunting, fishing, hiking and camping, but women don't, right? Not so fast. While there are cases where this may hold true, many women are just as excited about these activities as their male counterparts. And with the help of Women in the Outdoors (WITO), women all across the country are getting involved.

With almost 50,000 members, WITO invites women to learn about the rewards of the great outdoors [source: Trib Total Media]. Some of the basic activities the organization includes are fishing, hunting, primitive cooking, boating, hiking and backpacking [sources: PAWITO, WANWTF].


­Long gone are the days when scruffy men would head for the woods while the women stayed behind to prepare for a meal. Daughters have proven to be great hunting, fishing and camping companions. And with the help of nationwide branches, WITO provides opportunities for women of all ages to reap the benefits of the outdoor lifestyle and build newfound self-esteem.

In this article, we'll take a look at the origins of the organization, its missions and goals, and how you can join in on the fun. Read on to learn about the history of the group.


History of Women in the Outdoors

In the beg­inning, there were women -- women who wanted to hunt.

WITO was created in 1998 as an outreach program for the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWFT), which is an organization dedicated to preserving hunting traditions and protecting wild turkeys. NWTF was founded in 1973 to revitalize the wild turkey population, which it succeeded in doing. Instead of closing up shop after its goals were reached, NWTF decided to branch out into new areas and created WITO [source: NWTF: About the NWTF]. The female-oriented program is aimed at helping women learn more about interactive outdoor activities through hands-on education and expert-driven instruction [source: WITO].


­When the WITO pilot program began, few could have anticipated the response. During its first year, 3,000 female members signed on. By August 1999, more than 10,000 members had heeded the call of the wild [source: Wilbanks Jeter].

From the start, the organization embraced geographical differences, realizing that women on the coast may enjoy saltwater fishing while Midwestern women may prefer hunting. The diversity of programs and classes offered to women has led to its success [source: Wilbanks Jeter]. WITO went from 18 events in 1998 to over 400 events in 2008 [source: WITO].

So now you know there are women all over the nation seeking to learn outdoor skills. But why do they join the group? Read on to learn WITO's mission.


Mission of Women in the Outdoors

As with all organizations, presenting clear goals is a crucial element to attracting participants, which is why W­ITO states its mission and goals clearly:



  • Provide interactive educational outdoor opportunities for women.
  • Conserve wild turkey.
  • Preserve the tradition of wild turkey hunting [source: PAWITO].

Goals and Objectives:

  • Teach the importance of responsible wildlife management.
  • Increase outdoor activities participation.
  • Preserve hunting traditions.
  • Introduce and involving women in outdoor activities.
  • Create and mentoring female outdoor educators.
  • Provide a network for men and woman to share outdoor interests [source: PAWITO].

­WITO builds on its success by publishing a magazine of the same name and maintaining a Web site. The quarterly magazine is 80 pages long and contains articles on many outdoor activities, including hunting, fishing, health, kayaking, gardening and bird watching, to name a few. If it's related to the outdoors, it's in there. And if not, you can often find the information you need on the Web site's message boards [source: WITO Magazine].

Ready to sign up? Read on to learn how to join WITO.


Joining Women in the Outdoors

­Whether you want to hunt, fish, find recipes, build projects o­r just have some good old fashioned girl time, WITO might be what you're looking for. Membership is available to women age 14 years and older (minors will need written permission from a guardian to participate in events). The median age of event participants is 38, and there are opportunities for women from all walks of life [source: WITO].

Memberships are available for purchase for about $30 per year and include a membership card, a logo-covered stainless steel mug, a decal and a subscription to WITO magazine [source: NWTF]. Membership also includes complete access to the WITO Web site.


Special events are held year round in different areas, and members can go if they chose. Attendance requires a paid registration that often includes lodging, meals and transportation when applicable. Local registrants pay a reduced fee [source: WITO]. Members are also encouraged to plan their own events. Creativity and enthusiasm can lead to all sorts of new activities.

Whether you or someone you know is an avid lover of the outdoors or doesn't know a rifle from a fishing pole, you might want to check out WITO to get excited about nature.


Lots More Information

Relate­d How­StuffWorks Articles

  • Edwards, Bess. "Annie Oakley's Life and Career." The Annie Oakley Foundation. Updated 12/19/05. (Accessed 11/23/08)
  • NWTF: About the NWTF. (Accessed 11/23/08)
  • NWTF: Turkey Shoppe. "Women in the Outdoors Membership." (Accessed 11/23/08)
  • PAWITO. "Did You Know? Women in the Outdoors." (Accessed 11/23/08)
  • PAWITO. "Mission, Goals, and Objectives. Women in the Outdoors." (Accessed 11/23/08)
  • ­Rothenberg, Tamar Y. "Presenting America's World." Ashgate Publishing Company. 08/20/07. (Accessed 11/23/08)
  • The Holland Sentinel. "Women hunt, too: 'The underground sisterhood.'" 11/05/08 (Accessed 11/23/08)
  • Trib Total Media. "Women in the Outdoors Event." 06/01/07. (Accessed 11/23/08)
  • Wilbanks Jeter, Lynne. "Program designed to get women outdoors." Mississippi Business Journal. Aug. 16-22, 1999. (Accessed 11/21/08)
  • WANWTF. "WITO--Women in the Outdoors." (Accessed 11/23/08)
  • WITO. "FAQs" (Accessed 11/23/08)
  • WITO. "Fun in Store for NWTF Women's Event Attendees." 09/16/08. (Accessed 11/23/08)
  • WITO: Members Only. (Accessed 11/23/08)
  • WITO: National Women in the Outdoors Event Full of Surprises for More Than 300 Women. 09/30/08. (Accessed 11/23/08)
  • WITO. "The Outdoor Woman." (Accessed 11/23/08)
  • WITO. "WITO Events." (Accessed 11/23/08)
  • WITO. "WITO Magazine." (Accessed 11/23/08)