Woman hunter
(File photo)

Hunting may seem like an unexpected pastime for Iowa resident Rachel Vanderwerff.

“I did not grow up hunting,” she says. “I was not at all involved in the hunting world.”

An environmental consultant, she was vegan for a while because of animal welfare and sustainability concerns. But Vanderwerff missed eating meat. So to obtain it in a way she feels is ethical, she decided to try hunting. And after her first deer hunt, she was hooked.

“Really, that was the first time that I felt like I was part of nature and part of the food system,” she says.

As she’s gotten more involved, she’s realized that hunting can inspire people to protect wildlife habitat. She says hunters often lead land conservation efforts in her state.

“Iowa has lost 99% of its native prairie and wetlands,” she says. “It’s really important to conserve what we have left.”

So today, Vanderwerff leads a group called Edible Outdoors. It offers classes on hunting, fishing, and foraging. She hopes these practices help people feel more connected to nature.

“The more people are out enjoying our land, the more likely that they’re going to be invested in wanting it to be conserved,” she says.

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Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.

Topics: Food & Agriculture