WATERVILLE — Nine-year-old Romy Gerspenberger of Norridgewock was one of 14 hardy girls Saturday learning forestry skills from women on the Colby College Woodsmen’s Team. It was a good workout, the fourth-grader said.

“I was splitting wood with an ax,” she said. “It was harder than it looked, but it was pretty easy once you got it.”

Chopping wood, speed fire building and cutting with a crosscut saw were just some of the Lumber Jane events Saturday on the Colby campus aimed at teaching girls in second through sixth grade that outdoor work is not just for boys.

Romy said it was important for girls to know that.

“It shows that boys are not the only ones who can go outside and chop wood or play football or doing anything like that,” she said.

Romy’s mother, Vicky, said she and her daughter learned of the Adventure Girls series of programs through the school. The series is sponsored by Hardy Girls, Healthy Women, a Waterville-based nonprofit organization dedicated to the health and well being of girls and women.

“I just think it’s important for her to understand that girls can do anything,” Vicky Gerspenberger. “It’s a good way to get outdoors.”

Alaina Ennamorati, of Rockland, a program coordinator with Hardy Girls, Healthy Women, said the idea of the Adventure Girls program is to expose girls to women working in male-dominated fields.

“We want to show girls that they can do anything and we want to show them women who are leaders and women who are paving the way; knowing that it’s possible,” said Ennamorati, an AmeriCorps volunteer.

Adventure Girls meets once a month with women who are defying gender stereotypes and challenging notions of what a girl or woman should be doing with her life. The group learns about backpacking, compass reading and outdoor orienteering and meet women firefighters, welders, carpenters, farmers, engineers, police officers and pilots.

Constance Slaughter, 11, of Waterville, stepped away from the crosscut saw Saturday where she teamed up with a woman from the woodsmen’s team and said girls can grow up to be wood cutters, too.

“Boys and girls can do the same exact thing,” she said.

Julia Knoeff, a Colby junior from the Netherlands said the woodsmen’s team is a club sport and teaches men and women forestry skills, which on Saturday were passed onto the Hardy Girls.

“They are coming to see how women are doing in a male-dominated field,” she said. “They also are doing rugby and other sports usually associated with a male doing it. They are seeing that women can do it as well and empowering them. It’s important to see they can do stuff, too. It doesn’t have to be always men.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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