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story.lead_photo.caption Lynn Atkins/The Weekly Vista Barbara Mellor, the first female president of the Bella Vista Fly Tyers Club, has fished all her life. She started with the local club in 2017 and is looking forward to club's annual trip to Roaring River.

Clubs in Bella Vista are quietly making history this year with female presidents elected to two traditionally male clubs. On Thursdays, two of the larger clubs in Bella Vista take turns using the large craft room in Riordan Hall. This year, both clubs are led by women.

Barbara Mellor is the new president of the Bella Vista Fly Tyers. She learned to fish in farm ponds with her dad and continued fishing while living in Alaska. She's only been in Bella Vista for a year and a half.

"It's a great opportunity," she said of taking over as president. "I'm still getting to know people. I enjoy the fellowship of the guys."

She doesn't expect to push for many changes in the club, although she would like to recruit more members.

"The club's purpose is conservation and education and that doesn't need to change. It's a good purpose," she said. Members of the club visit area schools to teach fly tying and sometimes organize fishing trips for kids. They also devote volunteer hours to improving fish habitat in local lakes.

The club often has a speaker on a topic that has to do with fishing or conservation.

The Fly Tyers meet at 10 a.m. on Thursdays, and at 1 p.m. the Bella Vista Woodcarvers Club takes over the space.

Jean Visnich has been active in the club for several years, but she's not sure she is the first female president. While there have always been more men than women, there have been many women members during the club's 32-year history. One of them might have served as president.

The Woodcarvers usually bring their own projects to each meeting and work on them during the meeting. That gives beginners, or even more advanced carvers, the chance to ask questions and compare notes.

About once a month, the club has a program, Visnich said. Sometimes it's a speaker, but sometimes it's a video featuring a specific style or skill. For example, a recent program was about tool sharpening.

"We all have our gifts," Visnich said about her new position. She doesn't expect to introduce any big changes but instead plans to keep things flowing evenly. She's also interested in adding new members.

Not all members are actually wood carvers. Some are wood turners and some are pyrographers -- they burn graphics into wood.

On July 27, the local club will join with the Rogers club and sponsor a biennial show, Artistry in Wood, at the Bella Vista Assembly of God Church, at 1771 Forest Hills Blvd. Several members will have items for sale at the show.

General News on 02/13/2019

Print Headline: Women leading local clubs

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