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OWAA announces 2011 honorary award recipients

Five earn special recognition July 11 during the concluding banquet at OWAA’s 84th Annual Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah

At its recent annual conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, the Outdoor Writers Association of America, The Voice of the Outdoors, honored five with its most distinguished awards.

Rich Patterson, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, received the 2011 J. Hammond Brown Memorial Award. The award is OWAA’s most prestigious recognition of a member “for devoted past service to the organization over a period of continuous years.” Director of the Indian Creek Nature Center, Patterson served as OWAA president in 2007-08 and is a Life Member; he joined the organization in 1983.

Ron Schara, of Minneapolis, Minn., received OWAA’s 2011 Excellence in Craft Award. The award honors an OWAA member “for outstanding effort in upholding the OWAA Creed and continued excellence in craft.” An OWAA member since 1967, Schara is a television host and producer of several national and regional TV series, and regional radio programs. He is a writer and television personality who’s been sharing outdoor stories with readers and viewers for four decades. Schara is founder/executive producer of Ron Schara Productions, a full-service video production company with six Emmy Awards. His programs have aired on a variety of networks, including NBC, History Channel, ESPN2, Outdoor Channel, Versus, and many other local broadcast markets.

Paul Hansen of Jackson, Wyo., a freelance consultant on conservation, natural resources and outdoor recreation, received OWAA’s top conservation award, The 2011 Jade of Chiefs award. Award recipients exemplify OWAA’s adherence to and support of the principles of conservation. An active member of OWAA since 1982, Hansen served as the executive director of the Izaak Walton League for 12 years, plus an additional 11 years as director of the League’s Midwest Office in Minneapolis. Hansen has worked with organizations such as the Jackson Hole Alliance; served as director of The Nature Conservancy’s Greater Yellowstone program; chaired the “Green Group,” the leadership forum of the CEOs of the major national environmental groups; and was a founding member of the American Wildlife Conservation Partners (AWCP), a similar forum of hunting conservation leaders.

Matt Miller of Boise, Idaho, received the 2011 Outstanding Board Member Award. A member since 2002, Miller has worked as director of communications for The Nature Conservancy in Idaho for the past nine years. He has served on OWAA’s Board of Directors since 2009, and contributed to the OWAA Strategic Planning and Membership Criteria Review Committees during the past year. His articles and essays have appeared in such publications as Living Bird, Sports Afield, Bugle, Mule Deer, Grist and many others. He has traveled around the world in search of wildlife and stories.

Andrea Rhoades is the 2011 recipient of the Jackie Pfeiffer Memorial Award.  The wife of former OWAA Executive Director, Kevin Rhoades, Andrea is a frequent attendee of the association’s annual conferences, and a past coordinator of the Excellence in Craft Contests.  Rhoades also assisted at OWAA headquarters over the years.  The Jackie Pfeiffer Memorial Award originated in 1998, and recipients exhibit the qualities of the award’s namesake in exemplifying warmth and radiance, goodwill, helpfulness, generosity and kindness to others.  “She also has the rare quality of grace,” said Joan Turner, the 2010 recipient, when presenting Rhoades with this year’s award.  Rhoades resides in Missoula, Mont. with her husband, two sons and loyal dog, Kona.

For more information on the OWAA conference, these awards and award winners, visit the organization’s website at

Further information about the award recipients and conference will appear in the September issue of Outdoors Unlimited.

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