Catherine Ragsdale started fishing with her husband, Clay, because the time on the water made him happy. As a vet who was struggling (self-admittedly), Clay found peace while engaging in the sport, and even felt more like himself again.
The husband and wife duo is each vice president of their non-profit organization: Veterans Kayak Fishing (VKF). They believe in “getting veterans off the couch and into nature.” Their chosen fishing style (from a kayak) has less financial implications than getting vets into a bass or jon boat. Also, it requires mindfulness to fish from a kayak, forcing the fisherman (or woman) to slow down and focus on his surroundings. (Note: You may read more about this fine organization in our post from last year.)
In this installment of Gal Gab, Catherine kindly answers our six standard questions. Her responses help give insight into what drives her to do what she does for her day job, and her own business. She also gives a great list of products to help get you going in the outdoors. Enjoy!
1. Describe a typical day in your work life:
I am an Army Survivor Outreach Services Support Coordinator. So during the day, I work for the Department of Defense serving Army Gold Star Families and Families of the Fallen. In the evenings I am either working on Veterans Kayak Fishing (VKF) operations or teaching yoga. Over the weekends, I’m spending time outside (preferably on the water) and spreading the word about the VKF mission.
VKF is blessed with a great outreach team and amazing supporters. However, when it comes to managing the business side of our nonprofit, my husband (Clay Ragsdale) and I are a two-person operation. So we work on it in our spare time and keep very busy schedules.
2. #1 piece of advice you would give other females who want to break into the industry?
Reach out and support other women! Don’t be afraid to make new friends, even virtual ones. Women (and men) in the outdoor world are so friendly and welcoming. I am blessed with fantastic female friends. However, I will say that it can be challenging to find women who are interested in supporting other women. Fortunately, this is not the case in this industry. Everyone is welcoming, encouraging and eager to share and educate.
3. What motivates you?
A willingness to serve. My parents raised me to believe that we are put on this earth to serve others and luckily I have found a partner with those same values. For me, this means serving those who have served for us. With Veterans Kayak Fishing, I hope to bring a sense of peace and emotional wellness to
veterans through nature-based, mindful movement.
4. Most unexpected thing you’ve learned, while working in this industry?
That my yogic training aligns beautifully with the VKF mission and the outdoor world as a whole. I am a 500 Hour Registered Yoga Teacher (E-RYT 200, RYT 500, YACEP) and a trauma-informed yoga teacher.
When most people think of “yoga” they think of holding Down Dog or Warrior II in a studio but
that’s not true Yoga in the ancient sense. Those shapes held in a studio are simply a form of mindful movement, just like kayaking, that teaches you to reconnect with your body.
Yoga has been around for thousands of years and at its roots is a way to reunite with your true self — to reconnect with the part of you connected with your God (whoever that is). We cannot make that connection if we do not have a strong relationship with our bodies, our thoughts and our emotions. Flow yoga (asana) is one way of doing that, but it is not the only mindful movement.
Walks in nature, kayaking, fishing, birding and hunting, are all ways to reconnect with your body, the world around you and your inner thoughts. This reconnection is healthy for all of us, and thus, healthy for our greater communities.
Most of the people I have encountered in the outdoor world are very aware of the science behind why nature is good for us and see their time outside as a way to connect with their God. So it’s been a wonderful combination for me. Plus, I have found my pranayama (breathwork) to be very helpful at the range.
5. Favorite product in the outdoor or shooting market right now?
Anyone who knows me, knows I’m not great at answering questions succinctly. So since I can’t pick just one product, I’ll give you my must-have list for a day of fishing:
I’m still so new to the firearms world so it’s hard for me to land on a favorite product or gear. I spend more time educating myself. My favorite resources/companies:
6. Let’s have some fun… what weapon would you use to battle a giant?
Well if it’s a friendly giant or one who is open to communication I would chat over food. If he’s unfriendly I’d want a 50 cal mounted on a very fast vehicle.
Be sure to check out VKF’s website to learn more about their mission, or if you are a vet or know a veteran who would like to get in a kayak and fish. Follow them on social media: Instagram / Facebook.
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