What’s this program gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer is talking about that spends taxpayer money to take ‘metro-area women on camping vacations’?
During today’s “spirited” discussion between gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer and MPR Midmorning’s host, Kerri Miller, the GOP-endorsed candidate again raised a Department of Natural Resources program for women as an example of things the government should not be involved in (that, and, a program to map the migratory habits of owls).
“Our Department of Natural Resources, which should have a very important function when it comes to overseeing and application of rules and regulations for wonderful recreation and other resources or open spaces… I’ve been told recently — and I haven’t been corrected yet; nobody’s come forward and said ‘that’s not true’ — we’re now spending tax dollars to take metro women on bus trips for camping vacations,” he told Miller.
“Apparently our DNR is taking buses of metro women on camping trips. I think that’s great, but it shouldn’t be a priority of government,” Emmer said on MPR’s Midday a few weeks ago.
More than likely, he’s talking about the Becoming an Outdoors Woman program, which is a far cry from a camping bus trip for city-slicker women.
Here’s the history of the program, according to the DNR Web site:
Christine Thomas, an Associate Dean and Professor of Resource Management at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point College of Natural Resources, developed a program in 1991 called “Becoming an Outdoors-Woman” (B.O.W.) which teaches women outdoor skills. It began when Christine started researching the reasons why more women didn’t participate in outdoor activities such as hunting and fishing. She determined that women prefer to learn outdoor skills in a non-competitive atmosphere taught by other women. If you’d like to learn a little more about the program beginnings Christine has published a book titled “Becoming an Outdoors-Woman: My Outdoor Adventure.”
Becoming an Outdoors-Woman started in Minnesota in 1994 when a committee of interested people came together with Christine Thomas and decided to adopt it as a Minnesota Program. The program direction was under Roger Holmes with the Division of Wildlife at the DNR. Some of those same committee members are still working on the program today. Jean Bergerson was one of those original committee members and is now the Minnesota B.O.W. Coordinator. As a side note, Minnesota was the first state to offer multiple workshops in one year and the first state to offer winter workshops.
Weekend workshops include: Camping, cross-country skiing, fly-fishing, guided archery hunts, guided grouse hunts, hunting weekends, ice fishing, and winter camping.
A calendar of the program’s events are here.
People who take the workshops pay a fee for doing so, and private sponsors contribute to the program’s cost (Presumably more outdoorspeople is more money for Minnesota businesses). But DNR officials have not yet returned my messages to find out the net taxpayer cost of the program.
Tennessee, Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina, North Dakota, and Louisiana are among the other states that have the identical program.