During Women’s History Month we’re featuring three WaveMakers on RBFF’s staff and asking them a few questions about their experience fishing, boating, and insights on female representation in the industry. This week we spoke with Stephanie Vatalaro, Senior Vice President of Communications & Marketing, and Rachel Piacenza, Director of Marketing.
How did you get into fishing and boating?
Stephanie Vatalaro: I come from a long line of anglers and boaters, so I was on the water catching fish before I even remember.
Rachel Piacenza: My family has a lake house in northern Wisconsin and growing up we'd travel there almost every long weekend. Fishing, boating, hiking, exploring, and just being around nature constantly provided me an appreciation and passion for the outdoors.
What do you love most about fishing and boating?
SV: Nothing else seems to matter when I'm out on the water fishing and boating. For me it brings a deep sense of calm. I also love that most of my family's greatest adventures and memories have been out on the boat fishing and boating. These are the stories that always come up when we're hanging out with friends and family.
RP: The feeling of being out on the water and connecting with nature. Followed closely by a friendly fishing competition if I'm out with others.
Who do you go fishing and boating with?
SV: Mainly my family, but I also look forward to the RBFF team fishing adventures.
RP: Typically alone or with my uncle, who is the one who introduced me to fishing. Sometimes my dog if he isn't afraid to get in a boat or go near the water.
Why is female representation in fishing and boating important?
SV: 45% of new fishing participants each year are women, but they drop out at a really high rate because they don't see themselves in the sport. They feel like they don't belong. Representation helps empower women in fishing.
RP: Growing up, I didn't see any women represented in fishing or boating advertisements, it made it tricky to pick up a sport where you didn't see yourself represented and actively engaged in the activity. Same with fishing gear, although perceptions are changing for newcomers, which is encouraging to see.
What advice do you have for other women looking to dive into fishing and boating?
SV: I would tell women to start small - you don't need high tech equipment to get started - and to seek out other women to go fishing with. Whether through a state agency fishing clinic, local club or social media influencer meet up. Be sure to check out takemefishing.org/makingwaves too!
RP: Don't be overwhelmed. There's a lot you think you should know that you really don't need to know right away. A lot of the skills and techniques evolve with practice and patience.
Go with someone else for your first trip; find the right person and you'll learn a lot from the experience and just listening.
If you want to go solo, start basic in terms of equipment and build on from there depending on the situation, environment, or comfort level.
Who inspires you?
SV: There are so many women who inspire me, it's difficult to name one. This week I got a great dose of inspiration from Christine Fruechte, the CEO of Colle McVoy, who has led the company through incredible growth and record earnings over the last several years, excelling in a historically male-dominated field.
Why is Women’s History Month important to you?
SV: I think it's important to recognize that history as we know it focuses on men more than women. It's not that women weren't making history too, but their stories haven't necessarily been told. I embrace Women's History Month as a way to recognize and celebrate women's contributions.
RP: Continuing to highlight accomplishments of women over time allows younger generations to see all the possibilities and continue to dream big.