2023 UWOTF Annual Review

2023 UWOT Annual Report

In 2023, United Women on the Fly (UWOTF) celebrated its 7th anniversary with a strategic emphasis on financial sustainability. The year was dedicated to strengthening relationships, forging new partnerships, and securing sponsors to support UWOTF’s ongoing mission, ensuring long-term growth, and highlighting the voice of women within the fly fishing community.

The 2023 UWOTF Annual Review celebrates our shift from virtual engagements since 2020 to emphasizing in-person gatherings. In addition to hosting physical events, the focus extended to empowering women through education and scholarships. This included virtual education and three new scholarship programs, with the aim to diversify and support the current and future fly fishing community. A big thank you to those who have generously donated, making these scholarships a reality.

At the heart of every project, post, conversation, and relationship cultivated by UWOTF lies our ongoing commitment to our JEDI journey.  We actively engage in challenging conversations with organizations, communities, manufacturers, businesses, and community members to ensure that women’s voices are both heard and represented within fly fishing industry.

The horizon looks promising for 2024, as UWOTF prepares to align with the iFishiBelong nonprofit as a community initiative. With iFishiBelong’s nonprofit journey since 2022, this integration promises expanded funding, outreach avenues, and reinforced mission focus, all while preserving UWOTF’s foundational values and introducing strategic internal improvements for sustained impact.
 
Below is the detailed 2023 UWOTF Annual Report. Such accomplishments are made possible by our dedicated UWOTF Team, UWOTF Liaisons, and your ongoing support of UWOTF. The future is bright!
UWOTF 2023 In-Person Events

In-Person Focus

In 2023, United Women on the Fly (UWOTF) transitioned from virtual engagements to hosting in-person events across 12 states, engaging 341 participants. Among these gatherings, four “Fish and Hang” sessions were organized, echoing the series’ roots in Craig, Montana (2016-2020). These events emphasized community involvement, highlighted local businesses, and ensured an inclusive environment. The sessions took place in North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Montana.
UWOaTF 2023 Virtual Events

Virtual Events

Since 2020, communities globally have had to adapt to a virtual landscape. The UWOTF team gained invaluable insights during this period, recognizing the ongoing importance of virtual interactions to reach and support women worldwide. In 2023, we hosted 12 virtual events, engaging 518 participants.  In July, we transitioned to donation-based virtual education meetings. Your contributions directly support our presenters and cover the expenses associated with hosting United Women on the Fly. A heartfelt thank you to all who have donated.
UWOTF 2023 Education Scholarships

Education Scholarships

In 2023, in collaboration with education partner Fly Fish Instruct, United Women on the Fly provided complimentary access to the “Intro to Fly Fishing” online course for over 90 individuals. Additionally, we awarded over 175 scholarships, including donated classes, furthering our commitment to empowering and educating the fly fishing community.
2023 UWOTF Scholarship Programs (1)

Scholarship Programs

In addition to the 265 virtual education scholarships, we launched three unique scholarship programs, benefiting five deserving women. These initiatives aim to uplift diverse women, offering educational resources, financial support, and a welcoming environment to explore fly fishing. For the Virginia and Minnesota scholarships, we collaborated with Fly Fish Instruct and TroutRoutes. The Redington Rally scholarship in Montana was in partnership with Brown Girl Outdoor World and Redington.

Women's Advocacy

Our team has worked diligently behind the scenes, engaging in continuous JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) dialogues with organizations, communities, manufacturers, and businesses. In 2023, we launched the Women’s Fly Shop Survey Project as a key advocacy initiative. We’ve compiled and shared the findings with eight prominent fly shops across Montana, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. Currently, we’re advancing through the project’s four distinct phases. We anticipate unveiling the comprehensive dataset to the public by March. Keep an eye out for more updates!

UWOTF Website Listing

Demonstrating our ongoing dedication to promoting women in the fly fishing community, we have offered complimentary website listings for the past 7 years. The UWOTF website is the primary women’s fly fishing platform updated monthly, featuring listings of women-owned and co-owned businesses, women’s fly fishing groups, and a section to hire a licensed and insured woman fly fishing guide, complete with a map highlighting women across the globe.  In addition to our monthly updates, our team conducts annual reviews of the status of businesses, checks that women guides hold up-to-date state or provincial licenses, confirms their insurance, and the alignment with the UWOTF Mission.  This inclusive initiative resulted in 102 free website listings for women-owned businesses, 85 listings for women’s fly fishing groups, and 67 listings for women guides.
2023 UWOTF Nonprofit Partnerships

Nonprofit Partnerships

All Kids Fish Event – We take pride in our participation in Becca Sue Klein’s All Kids Fish event since its inception, initiated by the Chattahoochee River Keeper in 2019.  We collaborated closely with the event’s mission across its three occasions in 2023. Notably, the August event held in downtown Atlanta was entirely scholarship-funded, with a primary emphasis on JEDI principles, drawing participation and support from organizations and volunteers representing underrepresented communities.  We are already working on the 2024 events.

Reeling in Serenity – In 2023, we marked our second consecutive year collaborating with Reeling in Serenity during National Recovery Month. Together, we supported their mission to host free fly fishing retreats for people in active recovery from alcohol and drug abuse, aiding them in achieving their fundraising objectives.

Rising to the Fly – In 2023, Rising to the Fly took charge of the UWOTF Used Buy and Sell Gear Marketplace, now operating under the rebranded name, Rising to the Fly Used Buy and Sell Gear. We are also fortunate to have the co-founders of both as a member of the UWOTF team and as liaisons bridging the collaboration between UWOTF and Rising to the Fly.

UWOTF Sponsorships

2024 Future - UWOTF Joins iFishiBelong

UWOTF Joining the ifishibelong nonprofit

Since 2022, iFishiBelong has been actively pursuing its nonprofit status, securing approval from Washington state in November 2023 and submitting its 501c3 application to the IRS on December 12th, 2023. UWOTF will be joining the iFishiBelong nonprofit as a community program. Over the past 7 years, UWOTF has been sustained by the financial support of founder Heather Hodson. This nonprofit journey will open up funding opportunities, allowing us to continue our vital work and expand our impact to embrace all species, techniques, and people. 

UWOTF, as our community knows it, will undergo minimal changes. Our online Facebook community and social presence will remain unchanged, and we will continue to offer fishing opportunities, gatherings, in-person events, and quarterly virtual educational meetings. The significant changes are happening internally, with the formation of a board, the establishment of bylaws, and a more structured approach. These changes aim to achieve financial sustainability, distribute the workload, and enable us to work cohesively as a team to further our mission, uphold our core values, and achieve our goals.

Heather Hodson Bio Photo

Note From the UWOTF Founder

All the remarkable achievements over the past 7 years, especially in 2023, stand testament to the commitment of the UWOTF team and Liaisons. Their dedication, often behind the scenes, goes unnoticed but is invaluable.  I am beyond proud to work side by side with these women and most importantly call them friends. Read the entire review HERE and learn more about the UWOTF Team HERE.  

~ Heather Hodson UWOTF and iFishiBelong Founder

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