When you listen to her talk, you might be convinced she was born underwater, or at least with her feet dangling off a dock. Then again, it might have been in a cabin in the dead of a Canadian winter.
She's Nancy Boldt, water safety coordinator for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.
"I grew up by Calvin, by Rock Lake. It's out in the middle of nowhere," said Boldt. "We did our farming in North Dakota and all our recreating in Canada."
Calvin is in western Cavalier County, about a dozen miles from the Canadian border. Boldt's family owned a cabin in Canada.
"We spent every weekend possible up there," recalled Boldt. "My kids grew up there and that's where they learned to ice skate and ski. I've been a fisherman and boater my whole life. If there's anything to do with water, it's my thing whether it be a motorboat, canoe, kayak or innertube. I want to have my feet in the water."
Following a stint as Deputy Register of Deeds for Towner County, Boldt took a job as an administrative assistant with the Game and Fish Department in 1991. The position moved her closer to working outdoors. When she saw an opportunity to become more involved in work outside the confines of the office, Boldt expressed interest.
Prairie Profile is a weekly feature profiling interesting people in our region. We welcome suggestions from our readers. Call Regional Editor Eloise Ogden at 857-1944 or Managing Editor Kent Olson at 857-1939. Either can be reached at 1-800-735-3229. You also can send e-mail suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
"I saw an article from South Dakota about Becoming An Outdoors Woman, while reading in our coffee room and inquired about it," said Boldt. "The department sent me down there to take a look at the program. We started it up in 1995."
Boldt proved to be an ideal fit to lead the program. She siezed the chance to introduce women to the outdoors. Under her leadership, response to the B.O.W. program has grown steadily.
"I like watching the women learn something they might not have done before or a little out of their comfort zone," said Boldt. "You also see how much fun they have doing it. They change right before your eyes. They make new friends and they get hooked on it."
The women-only outdoors workshops have featured everything from dog sledding, snowshoeing and track recognition to fly fishing and darkhouse spearfishing. For many of the women attending, it's their first try at conquering such outdoor activities. For Boldt, that's reward enough.
"One year we had a lady in her 60s climb into a kayak. She was really timid and was the last woman to push off into the water that day," said Boldt. "She got used to it and liked it. She turned out to be the last one to come back to shore. That was a perfect case of somebody who found something she really enjoyed."
A week ago Boldt found herself four-wheeling through deep snow to reach snow covered Crooked Lake. That's where she had scheduled a B.O.W. darkhouse spearfishing class for this past weekend. Twenty-one women had signed up despite the uncooperative weather.
"Unfortunately we had to pull the plug on that one," said Boldt regrettably. "There was just too much snow getting there and out on the lake. I drilled some holes and saw some fish but there's just no way to get that lake cleared for all those people. It's really been tough this winter."
Cancelling a fishing day had to be a tough call for Boldt. For her, fishing has always been a passion. Like many other fishermen, she owns a tackle box full of lures, but usually goes back to what she caught fish on while growing up the old reliable red and white Daredevle.
"I grew up pike fishing. There's nothing more exciting than when a northern takes off with your line in the summertime," said Boldt. "For me, it's northern pike on a red and white Daredevle. It's amazing how that works."
The former country girl who now lives in Bismarck still misses much of what she experienced in rural North Dakota. Boldt said she still drives out into the country on occasion to watch the northern lights.
"I've taken other people to see them and they are totally amazed," says Boldt. "That's something you really can't see in town because of all the lights from the city."
Boldt has witnessed the changes in the boating industry in North Dakota. Watercraft registrations in North Dakota have increased dramatically the past several years. The size of boats and the horsepower that moves them continues to grow. It has made her work as water safety coordinator more important than ever.
"It was more relaxing just a few short years ago. People weren't zooming past you on the water," said Boldt. "There's more people, more cabins around the lakes. It seems everybody wants to be a lake person. Boating has become a national pastime. I just want to make it safe for the kids growing up and make sure the adults know there are rules out there, especially here in North Dakota where we have to share a limited amount of water."
Helping insure that children have the opportunity to have a quality experience in the woods or on the water is important to Boldt. She encourages parents to get their kids involved in the outdoors.
"Sometimes I see a man and his dog fishing," said Boldt. "I wonder where the children are. It's good for us, too. If you take a child into the outdoors, they will open your eyes to something you may have missed a hundred times."