4 Winning Women who are Cultivating Careers Outdoors

An early introduction to the outdoor lifestyle has paid dividends for these smart and successful young women.

by posted on June 10, 2022
SEOPA Winners

I recently met four extraordinary young women at the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association (SEOPA) conference. All were awarded scholarships, and all are seeking careers in the outdoor industry. Each woman said her love for the outdoors derived from parents and siblings who encouraged her to spend time outside at an early age. They are hard workers, successful, knowledgeable and ready to embrace their future in the outdoors. And while they have a lot in common, these ladies are unique in their exceptionalism. Read more about them here. 

Lindsay Lucas
Lindsay, 15, is navigating her way through high school in Missouri. She says not many girls at her school “hunt or love it like I do.” The outdoors provides her with peace of mind, so she wants to share that feeling with others. Lindsay aspires to work in the mental health field using the outdoors to create therapeutic opportunities and instill skills to help children who may be struggling. “I want to let them know that they are not alone in this world,” she says.

Lindsay says she credits her family for providing a supportive and encouraging atmosphere while they continue to guide her. Her mother has won accolades for her active outdoor lifestyle and her father has a podcast about outdoor activities. Their family hosts events to invite young people to participate and enjoy outdoor activities.

In addition to hunting, fishing, and shooing trap and skeet Lindsay writes for Crappie Now, a magazine for which she authors a column called “The Reel Deal.” She also uses social media to further share her love for the outdoors.

In school, Lindsay says she never liked reading or writing until she was able to use it to communicate about something she loves. She was quick to quote her father on her newfound success in writing: “Dreams don’t work unless you do. This means that nothing comes easy in life.” As the youngest of seven siblings, I doubt she has ever been satisfied with being too young or too small to keep up. Lindsay is a very positive and deliberate person who has a knack for adventure. And now she is also a 2021 SEOPA Sale-Tinney award winner.

Abby Jackley
A rising senior in rural Wisconsin, Abby started shooting multiple firearm disciplines and archery at a very young age. Though she says she enjoys shooting of all types, she found her passion in pistol competition at age 14. Having gotten her start with steel challenges, she is now involved in the Scholastic Action Shooting Program and the United States Practical Shooting Association. Abby currently holds the following titles: 2020 2nd SASP Nationals Women JV 1911 division and 2021 Wisconsin State Champion Ladies 1911 HOA.

Lucky for Abby, her school boasts trap and pistol teams as well as adventure education classes, which teach young adults about the outdoors. And in fact there are more women than men on Abby’s pistol shooting team, which pleases Abby.

Mental preparation for competitions starts early, says Abby. She is the first to get her equipment ready, and is then free to think about specific goals she wants to accomplish at the competition. She says that if she worries about bombing at the competition that it will hurt her performance, so she focuses on what to do instead of what not to do.

Abby has also expanded her social media presence, and is a staff writer for Junior Shooters magazine. Although her social media focuses on participation in competitions, she is very active in hunting, fishing and the outdoors. She says she especially likes to share the outdoors with her family, while enjoying tremendous support from her community—which Abby passes on to others through coaching.

Abby says she plans to become a social media influencer, and with her genuine and delightful personality, I have no doubt she will achieve her goals. Abby is a 2021 SEOPA “Toyota Lets Go Places” award winner.

Christy Sweigert
A recent Colorado State University (Fort Collins) graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Natural Resource Tourism, Christy completed a communications internship with the Delta Waterfowl Foundation. To date, she continues as a freelance writer for the organization. Her introduction to communications was in marketing and production for rodeo. She is also active with conservation groups. Christy says she plans to make a career out of getting others to enjoy and love the outdoors the way she does.

Christy says she has always enjoyed hunting and fishing with her family and friends, and aims to bring more children into the outdoors by making it more affordable and creating more mentorship programs. “Mentorship is huge in that you can find groups and organization where you can be new at an activity together,” says Christy. She received the 2021 SEOPA “Toyota Lets Go Places” award.

Amy Cawley
Amy has completed her freshman year at Midland University in Nebraska, but hails from New York, where her father and brother were heavily active in the shooting sports. Interestingly, Amy says she did not like shooting when she tried it for the first time. However, after a soccer injury, her second try with shooting was enough to spur her love for the sport.

Amy travels with the university shotgun team and competes in trap, skeet and sporting clays. She says she tried pistol and rifle and enjoyed both, but nothing has stuck like shotgun. “They are not as fun as watching clays explode.” At the recent SEOPA conference, she used five unfamiliar shotguns to outshoot the other very experienced attendees, hitting 20 out of 25 clays. The shotguns could not be more varied in style and gauge. You could see her competitive nature shine through in her disappointment in the five unbroken clays. As a result of her excellent performance, she won a new shotgun. Her titles to date include:

     2020 3rd place Skeet SCTP National Championship
     2020 Top Gun Skeet NYS July and August Championship
     2020 1st place Sporting Clays NYS Championship
     2020 1st place Trap NYS Championship
     2020 NSSA 2nd place Lady NYS Championship
     2020 1st Junior 12, 20, 28, 410 doubles HOA NYS Champion
     2020 1st 5 man squad NYS Champion

Amy also has an impressive social media presence on her page called Her Shooting Journey. She is also a contributor to the Junior Shooters Magazine. Amy says she wants people to have a positive first experience with shooting and is using her platform to encourage just that.

One of Amy's goals is to continue to grow her social media audience and encourage more women to get involved. She says the sport is still male dominated, but she has been watching the female numbers grow. Her advice to a new shooter is to visit the range, watch others without any pressure to perform and direct questions to experienced shooters. She is the winner of the 2021 SEOPA Sale-Tinney award.

Meeting these talented young women was an honor and a privilege. I was impressed by their poise under pressure when answering questions in front of a room full of seasoned communicators. They are full of enthusiasm, passion and adventure. All of them shared the experience of being drawn into the outdoors through the encouragement of their families. I believe this early introduction to the outdoors to be a great advantage for future success.

Outdoor activities teach responsibility, work ethic, respect and confidence. So, how do we get more young people involved? Someone has to invite them and mentor them. It is very important that these opportunities not be missed by our youth. More programs to introduce our youth to outdoor activities are vital. As NRA Women, we are in a position to make this happen. I invite you to encourage the young folks in your life by sharing your love of the outdoors with them.

About the Author: Samantha Mann, MA, is a WV Licensed Psychologist, Licensed Professional Counselor WV, and Nationally Certified Counselor. Raised in West Virginia, Samantha was the youngest of six grandchildren (and the only female) who were raised to love the outdoors and hunting. She has hunted from Texas to Africa, and believes that while Superman gets his power from the sun, her power comes from the outdoors. Samantha lives in southern West Virginia with her supportive husband, who doesn’t mind showing off her trophies to his buddies. She balances her time in the office helping others with time in the outdoors, focusing much of her career on helping children and adults who have been abused, neglected and mistreated.

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