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Women's History Month

DEC joins the nation in celebrating the accomplishments of women throughout the month of March during Women's History Month. Whether through internal initiatives designed to advance professional growth for staff or opportunities for women across New York to sharpen outdoor recreation skills and knowledge, DEC is highlighting some of the remarkable women who make the agency's work possible.

A Testimony in Determination - DEC's Women's Initiative

In 2018, DEC launched the Women's Professional Development Initiative in response to women looking for opportunities for professional growth and career development. The Initiative is led by a Steering Committee, which focuses on cultivating an empowering environment for all women at DEC.

Throughout the year, the Women's Initiative organizes several events, including a Speakers Series for employees to interact, learn, and engage with fellow DEC employees. Past presentations included Planning a Family, which provided information about various types of leaves and DEC's Becoming an Outdoors-Woman program.
The Steering Committee works closely with DEC's Diversity, Mentoring, Sustainability, and Training Initiatives.

Women and Outdoor Recreation

woman holding a fish

In 2018, DEC hosted the first-ever WomenHuntFishNY Photo Contest and in 2019 hosted the first-ever Women's Fishing Expo. A partnership with the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks), the Fishing Expo was held at Belmont Lake State Park and led primarily by female anglers, deckhands, fisheries scientists, women-owned businesses, and fishing clubs. In DEC's first-ever statewide photo contest to celebrate women who hunt and fish in New York, DEC received an overwhelmingly positive response from women across the state and received more than 2,000 photo entries, accompanied by hundreds of inspiring stories.

According to the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, women now make up more than 25 percent of all anglers, and the number of female hunters in New York State is the fastest growing segment of hunters, with nearly 50,000 women licensed to hunt.

In 1994, sponsored by DEC and other organizations, New York became one of 14 states to hold a "Becoming an Outdoors-Woman" (BOW) workshop. These programs provide women with information, encouragement, and hands-on instruction in outdoor skills such as fishing, archery, hunting, map and compass, survival, camping, canoeing, outdoor cooking, and more. Simply put, the BOW program empowers women to take on a challenge that they may have been intimidated to take on their own.

Testimonials from previous BOW participants:


"This is an extremely wonderful program that brings women together-all ages, all walks of life, with similar interests. It empowers women to take on a challenge that they may have been intimidated to take on their own."

"I came here feeling a little out of place and intimidated and am leaving feeling very comfortable and excited about trying some of my new found fishing and hiking skills."

"Great instructors, every single one was high quality: knowledgeable, practical and kind."

"I had a great time, I learned a lot and really enjoyed myself. I would highly recommend this program to any woman interested in learning more about our great outdoors. I'm looking forward to going again next year, there are so many other things I would love to try. Without these workshops I would never be able to try out so many new things. I also really enjoyed being with other women that would like to fish & hunt."

DEC Women Making History Today

Thousands of DEC experts, from Forest Rangers and Environmental Conservation Police to engineers, biologists, and more, are working on innovative and groundbreaking projects to protect New York's environment for future generations. We will feature just a few of these trailblazers on this page during Women's History Month.

Dr. Emmeline Moore


Dr. Emmeline Moore was the first woman scientist hired by the New York State Conservation Commission in 1920, and the first woman elected President of the American Fisheries Society. She received her PhD in biology from Cornell in 1916. Dr. Moore served as chief aquatic biologist and director of the New York State Biological Survey, where she produced some of the best early state surveys of aquatic resources, many of which are still used today. She studied water pollution and fish diseases while working for the New York State Conservation Commission/Department for 24 years. She also published technical papers on fish culture and fish diseases, discovering several fish diseases and parasites. Dr. Moore was twice honored with the Walker Prize from the Boston Society of Natural History.

Women's History Month Profiles

Women have a long history of advancing the work of DEC and the New York State Conservation Commission before that. Here are profiles of some of the women making history at DEC today.

Lieutenant Nancy Ganswindt

Nancy Ganswindt knew she wanted to be a Forest Ranger after meeting a Ranger at DEC's Camp Pack Forest in Warrensburg when she was 15. Nancy began her DEC career at the camp and worked her way up to Lieutenant, supervising Rangers in Saratoga and Washington counties. In 2017, she traveled to California as a Squad Boss on a western wildfire assignment where she provided relief to residents who lost homes in the fires. Lt. Ganswindt helps New Yorkers every day, whether she's responding to a search and rescue, wildland firefighting, or supporting the State's response to COVID-19. Ganswindt, a DEC Forest Ranger, is a Lieutenant and has been with DEC for seven years.

Mikaela J. Hameline
headshot of woman

Mikaela oversees DEC's professional development training and helped to create and launch the agency's Mentoring Program, which pairs experienced staff with staff looking to enhance their skills. To date, 215 DEC staff from every division and region have participated in the program, which is helping staff learn from one another, building a more knowledgeable workforce, and raising the level of professional performance at the agency. She is a Training Specialist 2 in the Office of Management and Budget Services, Bureau of Training and Organization Development. She has been with DEC for six years.

Sergeant Kati Reynolds

Helping to shape the minds and sharpen the skills of the newest members of DEC's Division of Law Enforcement, Sergeant Kati Reynolds spends a lot of time at DEC's Training Academy in Pulaski working with aspiring officers when training is in session. She is responsible for daily scheduling at the academy for the Divisions of Law Enforcement and Forest Protection and instructs specialty courses during Basic School and other times of the year. Sgt. Reynolds also oversees programs such as the Intranasal Naloxone and First Aid Programs. Reynolds, a DEC ECO, is a Technical Sergeant and has been with DEC for seven years.