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One member at a time: OWAA must grow to prosper

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BY CHRIS HUNT

Last September in Lake Placid, N.Y., executive director Tom Sadler made a comment that’s stuck with me.

“If every member of our organization recruited just one member, we’d double the size of OWAA,” he said.

I sat there with my fellow board members, stunned at the simplicity. How tough would it be for everybody in the organization, or even just everybody in the room for the annual business meeting, to bring in a single new member?

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock the past few years, you likely know that OWAA has undergone some contraction of late. While there’s momentum building within our ranks, and the future is starting to look bright, that future can only become a reality if we continue to foster our membership and welcome new faces.

I was introduced to OWAA by Scott Stouder, one of my mentors, and not just in the outdoor communications world. Stouder has what many in our ranks have — passion. He is passionate about his work, passionate about his writing and passionate about OWAA. Since that introduction, Stouder has gone on to win the Jade of Chiefs Award and do some amazing things on behalf of hunting and fishing in our home state of Idaho. He’s one of my heroes.

At the last couple of conferences, I’ve looked around the room during the times when most of us come together — meals and presentations, hospitality suites and the banquet. I’m in awe of the company I share. There are many “heroes” in OWAA who communicate the raw and simple pleasures of spending time afield in pursuit of fish or game. I read many of their works growing up and their love of the outdoors and the way they shared that enthusiasm to the world inspired me to become a better sportsmen. It’s likely that I do what I do today because I was inspired by these men and women. They were — and still are — my heroes.

I know there are aspiring communicators out there who yearn to share their passion for the outdoors with others. Perhaps they write a blog, or record a weekly podcast. Maybe they write the fishing report for the local weekly, or spend their weekends with their camera in hand, recording their adventures.

My guess is they have been inspired by someone — quite possibly an OWAA member. Put yourself in their shoes. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you got a phone call or an email from one of your heroes asking you to become a part of the organization that nurtured so many quality communicators? Wouldn’t you love that call?

OWAA has done so much for me. It connected with me a network of colleagues, helped me improve my craft, made my job more productive and introduced me to friends that I know will have for life. I recognize the need to give back to this fine organization and the best way I can help it now is to help it grow.

Just one member. Can you do that? Can you make one phone call? Send one email? If you can make the initial contact and gauge the interest of just one potential member, you can make a big difference for OWAA today and well into the future. Once you’ve made contact with someone interested in the organization, feel free to turn their information over to me or Sadler. We’ll close the deal.

Our beloved organization needs us to help it grow and prosper once again.

OWAA needs its heroes. ♦

— Chris Hunt serves on the OWAA Board of Directors and is the chairman of the Membership Committee. You can reach him at chunt@tu.org.

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