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100 years of history: Preparing for OWAA’s ultimate anniversary

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BY MARK FREEMAN
I’m a newspaper guy and if there’s one thing newspaper guys love more than the first, last, biggest or best of anything, it’s anniversaries.
Take an event — something, anything worth covering once — and find yourself on the same calendar day it happened in the past and chances are you’ve got yourself a story. Slap a zero on the end of that anniversary and all the better. Those stories are more neat and odor-free when they land on a decade. But two zeroes? It becomes required coverage.
The 100th anniversary of that fateful day when a cabal of outdoor writers met at an Izaac Walton League meeting and decided to form OWAA is quickly approaching. And for us, this is a big story that needs to be told by us.
Even though we’re 12 years away, I want to start efforts now in compiling information to create an updated autobiography of OWAA, so that this most important of all our anniversaries to date, doesn’t creep up without the proper homage.
The idea of updating our own history captured quite a bit of attention at the Board of Directors meeting May 25 in McAllen, Texas. It started over the concept of recreating the board liaison position of Board Historian but quickly turned to discussion on how we should prepare for our 100th anniversary, including who should write the organization’s history and what should it include.
I created an ad hoc History Committee to begin amassing photographs, anecdotes and other information so that whoever is appointed by a future board to write the organization’s history will have a pre-made arsenal of documents, stories and data to use.
So now I’m making the call for those interested in serving on that committee.
Don’t consider this a 12-year commitment. Look at it as an opportunity to generate traction for this next telling of our history.
Our only two books on the organization’s history were written for the 50th and 65th anniversaries. “Fifty Years of OWAA” was edited by Don G. Cullimore, and Cullimore was joined by Edwin W. Hanson in editing “Sixty-Five Years of OWAA.” Both are available at https://owaa.org/store. We’d expect that whoever writes the 100th will pull heavily from these. There is also Michael Furtman’s piece, “Conservation Cohorts,” about that 1927 Ikes meeting in Chicago that ran in the Ikes’ Outdoor America magazine. It contains excellent historical references as well that can be used.
What the committee needs to do is start honing in on the watershed moments in OWAA since the last history was written. We also need to decide what form this history will take. With the way communication is changing, I’m guessing its going to be a combination of words, photos and video. That’s where we need help from all the membership. You don’t have to join the committee to help. You can start copying photos or videos and the stories behind them for the committee to consider.
OWAA’s 100th anniversary is destined to be one of its greatest and we need to get a jump and plan that next version of OWAA’s autobiography as soon as possible.
For now, the board has decided to hold off on re-instituting the Board Historian in hopes that this effort brings forth a cadre of potential candidates. The board also discussed perhaps having the historian chair the History Committee. I’m interested in members thoughts on this as well.
If you’re interested in helping this endeavor, send me an email and we’ll go from there. ♦
— OWAA President Mark Freeman, mfreeman@mailtribune.com
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