When you hear the name Jen Cordaro what do you think? People who are familiar with the name often think Jen “the Archer,” which is the nickname the hunting community has given her because of her involvement with wildlife conservation and shooting sports.
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We also think Jen “the Educator” because of her “Bring a Kid Campaign” and her selfless acts to introduce the younger generation to the ways of living a healthy lifestyle revolving around hunting and fishing.
How about Jen “the Traveler” – for her experiences traveling the world and becoming highly aware of living a sustainable lifestyle with a minimal carbon footprint.
Or Jen “the Huntress” for her experience and involvement as a competitor on the TV show, The Extreme Huntress.
We have had to pleasure of following along with Jen’s adventures as she continues to be an advocate for wildlife conservation, an educator for healthy living, a protector of our 2nd Amendment rights and … a neighbor to our small Northern California community. Jen Cordaro’s life has always interested us; she lives a life that we strive to lead as we age and become more independent. We felt fortunate to visit with Jen recently. We hope, by sharing a few things with our readers, that you will get to know Jen “the Archer” Cordaro better, too.
2girls hunting: How old were you when you were introduced to hunting and fishing? What has kept you interested in pursuing this as a lifestyle?
Jen Cordaro: I grew up in Oceanside, California, which is a Southern California beach town. Fishing was everywhere and a lot of my friends fished growing up. My first experience fishing was when I was younger, but I wouldn’t say I was an angler by any means. I didn’t start seriously hunting and fishing until Fall of 2013 – the same year I picked up a bow for the first time. To be honest, I never intended to become an archer or a hunter. I have a big bucket list that I’ve been working on since I was about 16 and one of the items was to kill a pig with a bow. As a result of trying to check off my bucket list, I instantly fell in love with archery and hunting and the rest is history. The adoption of the outdoors lifestyle came after the bucket list experience. Since I worked and traveled in places overseas without refrigeration a lot, I became a vegetarian for most of my adult life. As a vegetarian and world traveler, I learned a lot about sustainability, carbon footprint and the impact that we have on our world through consumer choices and I wasn’t happy with my own footprint on communities, the environment and the world – especially with eating meat alternatives and soy-based products. So, once I was back stateside, I knew I’d start eating meat again and I wanted to be more responsible in my food acquisition;hunting and fishing was a way to make that happen. My family basically lives off-grid and we only eat wild proteins at home. I know all of this makes me sounds a bit granola but honestly, I believe in keeping our world and our bodies clean, healthy, well-managed and sustainable. After all, hunters are true conservationists and that mindset requires us to look at our own living habits, even outside of hunting and fishing.
2girls hunting: Tell us more about your “Bring a Kid Campaign.”
Jen Cordaro: The #BringAKid Campaign started as kind of on accident. My best friend, Angie, and I …got into hunting and archery together, started answering letters that kids would send to me via social media. The letter-answering turned into the 2 of us planning experiences for these kids to make their desires to learn to hunt, fish, and shoot realities. Neither she nor I had the opportunities to get into the outdoors as kids and we always wondered how our lives may have been different if we had. So, we volunteer to make that happen for kids. We don’t necessarily promote the program and we aren’t a non-profit; it just organically happens each time. We are self-funded and volunteer to make these experiences happen. We simply just answer letters from kids and help to make the dreams they express in the letters to come true. Here is a link to one example.
2girls hunting: You have had some experience with bullying. How do you address this?
Jen Cordaro: To be honest, I believe people are afraid of what they don’t understand. They are fearful of difference, scared of change – be it change within themselves and their thinking, or change in culture or practices. Bullying and judgmental actions typically come from some type of lack of acceptance because of fear or lack of confidence. Hunters are equally responsible for this attitude. We are afraid of change and difference. We’re afraid of our political fate. We are afraid of not having control over our lifestyle, rightfully so. But, we react in ways that aren’t always helpful to our cause … For example, by posting things on social media that the non-hunting public doesn’t understand and often not caring what the consequences are of those actions (I know I’m guilty of this). I’ve always addressed the anti-hunting bullying I’ve experienced by not running away with fear, but rather, being open to having a conversation. I’m also okay with leaving the conversation with a difference of opinion. It’s OK to disagree as long as there is some type of respectful communication occurring.
I also try to take myself out of my own skin for a minute and attempt to understand the other person’s point of view so that I can collect my thoughts and have a rational response that doesn’t make hunters look disrespectful. Since I’m being targeted as a hunter and not as “Jen,” my voice is being heard as “hunter” – it’s important to understand that. My responses in a bullying situation aren’t about me at all. My responses are being digested as part of something much larger than me as an individual, even though I might feel like I’m being targeted as an individual.
Hunters ask me all the time, “Jen, why do you waste your time talking to these people?!?” and these hunters get pretty upset sometimes after they see me take the time to talk to the opposition. Here are my thoughts on it: Ask yourself, “Does this conversation have the ability to make a difference in the future of the outdoors?”Then assess the possibilities. The only time I engage in these conversations (even if it’s via bullying and name calling), is if there is an audience or if the person is asking or communicating respectfully. I know I’m not going to change anti-hunters’ opinions of hunting and they aren’t going to change mine. But, we absolutely have the ability to change the opinions of those who are listening or watching. It’s very likely that the audience has little opinion or education about hunting so I have these conversations for them – not for the anti-hunter who is bullying me. I just use the statements from the anti-hunter to fuel the conversation as a teaching moment for the audience. If we can keep our composure, stay rational, friendly and remember we are not being attacked as an individual by the anti-hunter but rather our ideology of ethics and issues of morality (ex. taking life) is what’s in question, it’s sometimes easier to remove your own emotional responses from the argument in the moment so that you can help the audience to make their own decisions around food, wildlife management, conservation and ultimately being a provider as a hunter.
2girls hunting: What are your goals for your future and the future of firearm activities?
Jen Cordaro: My goals for the future … well, I’m writing a book right now on hunting and I’m finishing my Ph.D. in public policy with a focus on pro-hunting policy work. I hope to finish those things in the near future. As for long-term, my main goal is to make a career in shifting the opinion of hunting and hunters within the general public in order to help save our community politically. As for the future of firearms, my goal is to somehow help people arrive at the conclusion that we’ve forgotten how to be American before we are Democrat or Republican. I’m not really sure I can pinpoint what happened to get us so far removed from our Constitution, but ultimately … my grandparents’ generation was able to sit down and have a conversation about political parties while still remembering they’re American first. We can’t seem to do that anymore.
While sitting down and talking with Jen and becoming immersed into her life, thoughts, goals and ambitions, we had a hard time condensing the conversation. We just feel she is full of all kinds of knowledge that continues to fascinate us and we hope it does you, too. Jen is a certified Hunter’s Education instructor, archery instructor, SCUBA diver, angler, hunter, bow-fisher and academic conversationalist. She preserves produce and processes, prepares and cures her own wild game meat. Jen shares her skill-sets with the general public through workshops, seminars, public appearances and volunteer work.
You can see why we look at Jen “The Archer” Cordaro as a mentor, but as we type up this column we want to add one more name to Jen; That’s Jen “The Newlywed.” She is marrying Vince Benedet this month, a man she met while doing #BringAKidCampaign. Guess what they are doing for their honeymoon? You got it … Going hunting!
Morgan and Mason Baseley are just everyday girls who love the outdoors and who happen to be identical twins that also love hunting – from waterfowl to big game. "We are here to empower girls and shooting sports. At 17-years old, we are the next generation of female hunters and need to be able to speak up to protect our hunting rights and protect the Second Amendment." Sponsored by Girls with Guns Clothing, these young women are given the platform to make their voices heard in their column at The WON, "2Girls Hunting." They also speak at banquets about hunting and write a blog for the Sportsmen’s Alliance. View all posts by Morgan Mason Baseley