Joan Kleven and Melissa Ahonen

Joan Kleven and Melissa Ahonen are the co-founders and operators of Outdoors For Her; an exciting adventure-based company for women.  Outdoors For Her promotes outdoor lifestyles for women; including fishing, hunting, sea kayaking, dog sledding and more.   Meet Joan and Melissa in our Adventure Woman Interview.

1. What is your idea of an adventure?

Joan: Spending time in the outdoors hunting, fishing and many other activities with my family.  I love to stand post somewhere and watch the wildlife walk right by me.  It is interesting to see them in their own element when they don’t know I am there. 

Melissa: I enjoy spending time with my family and my in-laws.  Most time with my husband outdoors is an adventure, so any time I get to spend with him hunting and fishing.

2. How did the idea of Outdoors For Her originate?

Melissa & Joan: Outdoors For Her came about after we had finished out Master’s degrees.  We had written a business plan for a women’s clothing line that is geared for outdoors.  The owners of the Total Outdoor Network approached us and asked if we would be interested in creating a women’s outdoor website and the wheels started turning from there.

3. Does Outdoors For Her operate its own trips or do you highlight other outfitters?

Melissa & Joan: We don’t operate our own trips but we would definitely like to feature other outfitters on our site.

4. Why is it important for women to have an ‘outdoor’ lifestyle?

Joan:  Often women don’t get the opportunity to spend as much time outdoors as they would like or maybe they have never had a chance.  A lot of times you hear about women that tried hunting or fishing for the first time when they are in their 30’s and 40’s and they love it.  I think that just shows that as those of us that are women of the outdoors have a responsibility to promote education and the many opportunities that are out there.  We also need to do what we can to encourage women to get involved in outdoor activities as much as possible.

Melissa:  I think it’s important because women need to enjoy themselves and the outdoors.  The outdoors and nature has so much to offer that you really could just sit back and let the outdoors fill your day with things.  But having an outdoors lifestyle would allow women to really do what they enjoy and are passionate about.

5. Is it true that more women are hunting and fishing?

Melissa & Joan:  The stats show that women are becoming more and more involved all the time.  I think as programs such as Becoming an Outdoors-Woman or women specific courses at the state DNR or Game & Fish departments become more popular the numbers will continue to rise.

6. What is the program “BOW” and what are the obvious and not so obvious benefits?

Melissa & Joan:  The Becoming an Outdoors-Woman program is set up to offer women classes on a large variety of topics.  Some states have classes a few times a year, others run camps for a few days.  This organization is one that I think will help change the male/female ratio of hunting and fishing.

7. What is your favorite outdoor adventure?

Joan: Deer hunting with my family and walleye fishing whenever I have a chance.

Melissa:  I enjoy fishing along the Missouri River the most. 

8. Did you grow up an outdoor’s girl?  Were you encouraged in this direction?

Joan:  I grew up on a farm and helped out a lot with our family’s cattle operation and farm.  Our family went on fishing trips in the summer.  My parents always encouraged outdoor activities and that was just a part of our life that I was fortunate to experience.

Melissa:  I grew up in a small town on a farm, so the only thing there really was to do was to be outside.  I was the tomboy of my family, so yes, I was always outdoors and my parents encouraged us to go outside and enjoy everything.  We went camping all summer long, so being outdoors was a large part of our family time as well as our everyday lives.

9. What was your favorite childhood book and why?

Joan:  The Little House on the Prairie series.  I loved the descriptive stories about hunting and doing the many things they had to do back then before technology came into play.

Melissa:  I agree with Joan.  The Little House on the Prairie series was one of my favorites.  Every story was so interesting for how they managed throughout their lives.  Also, the poetry book “There’s a Light In the Attic”.  I loved poetry books growing up as well.

10. What is the biggest misconception about “outdoors women” or women who fish and hunt?

Melissa & Joan:  I think sometimes people think that women that hunt are not feminine and that they are not as capable as men.  We are finding through our website membership and facebook fan pages that this is far from the truth.  Whether she is a “girly-girl” or a “redneck girl”, they are all successful hunters and do just as well as the men or even better.  J

11. Who is your female role-model?

Joan:  My mom.  She is so good at many things and is willing to try to learn new things all the time.  She has always taken the time to teach me everything she knows and encourages me to do the same with my kids.

Melissa: My mom, who has always been there to teach and encourage me.  To this day she continues to do so. 

12. What motivates you to live a fuller, more adventurous, life?

Joan:  My family is my life support.  They encourage me to live life to the fullest, take some risks, learn from my mistakes and never look back.

Melissa:  My husband definitely pushes me to be more adventurous and to have fun in the outdoors.  My family is also a huge support in my life and encourages me.

13. What is your most frightening outdoor experience?

Joan:  Once when I was about 16 I was gopher hunting with my little sister. We were using an old .22 and we walking across the pasture. I was carrying it and my hand slipped and I bumped the gun and it went off. Shot run between our feet - That was an eye opener for both of us for sure!

Melissa:  The most frightening was about years ago, we use to hunt in one large group and we would split into smaller groups.  Another group had two of the guys break off and went hunting on their own.  One of their guns fired and he was actually shot in the stomach.  Thankfully, he recovered fully.

14. You offer recipes on Outdoors For Her.  Can you each share your favorite with us?

Joan:  Either the Pan Fried Walleye or Venison Sausage – It’s a toss-up for me.

Melissa:  I have a new one that I have to post, which is Rooster Nuggets.  Also, the breakfast sausage that we made this winter after Deer Season too.

15. What adventure do you dream of doing?

Joan:  Hunting for a moose or elk.  I’d love the opportunity to try that sometime.  I’ve read so many stories about women who have hunted both and I have a lot of respect for them.

Melissa:  I would like to hunt moose, elk, or even bear.  I read other women’s stories and I would love the opportunity to be able to take a hunt like that one point in my life.

16. What is your motto?

Joan:  Rest if you must but do not quit

Melissa: Live life to the fullest so that you don’t have regrets. 

Photo:  Joan on the left and Melissa on the right (as viewed).
Outdoors For Her website: