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Candidates for OWAA's board of directors

Six OWAA members are running for three seats on OWAA’s board of directors. Ballots will be mailed to all Active, Senior Active and Life members in April and must be returned before the May 7 election. Results will be posted on Outdoors Unlimited Online and in the “News” section of the Web site. Three elected candidates will begin serving three-year board terms on June 13, 2010. Candidates are listed by lottery drawing. They were asked to submit a short biography and answers to the same four questions, which were drafted by OWAA’s Board Nominating Committee.

  • The current business model for OWAA has changed drastically with advances in social and technology advancements. Our criteria for membership and our sources of income are not self-sustaining in present form unless we embrace these changes. How do you see OWAA adapting to these current trends and changes?
  • While there is much thought and effort in attracting new members to OWAA, what can the organization do better to retain those members?
  • How can we help new members, often unfamiliar with the organization, make the most of their membership, including the OWAA Goldenrod Workshop?
  • What do we do with the newsletter and Web site?

JASON JENKINS

Residence: Missouri
Year joined OWAA: 2004
Conferences attended: Three
Committees: Chair of Education Committee, 2005-2008.
Bio: In January 2010, Jason Jenkins was named managing editor of Rural Missouri, a 540,000-circulation monthly tabloid published by the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives. He serves as a writer, photographer and editor, handling most of the publication’s outdoor-related content. Prior to joining the publication in 2007, he served as a news writer and photographer for University of Missouri Extension for five years. He lives with his wife, Nicole, and son, Aiden, in central Missouri’s Callaway County.
1. The current business model for OWAA has changed drastically with advances in social and technology advancements. Our criteria for membership and our sources of income are not self-sustaining in present form unless we embrace these changes. How do you see OWAA adapting to these current trends and changes? Whether it’s Facebook, YouTube or Twitter, these are just the most recent in a line of “new” media that OWAA members have used to communicate with audiences over the years. Like the medium of television nearly 60 years ago, the Internet and its many venues now offer entirely new audiences for our stories, audiences that are no longer regional or national, but truly global. For OWAA to continue to grow, we must embrace and allow membership of those who communicate solely on the Web through these vehicles, just as we’ve embraced communication via other media in the past. These communicators must feel that their chosen medium is no more or no less accepted than more traditional print or broadcast media.
2. While there is much thought and effort in attracting new members to OWAA, what can the organization do better to retain those members? I really think it all boils down to value. At some point, a member asks, “What am I getting for the money coming out of my wallet?” Now, there’s no doubt that part of the answer rests on the new member. You only get out of something what you put into it. However, we call ourselves “active” members for a reason. We’re engaged. We ply our craft and stay in touch with others doing the same. To retain members, we must emphasize the value of those relationships. I come from a state with an active group of OWAA members, and I recognize the organization’s value because I’m never more than a phone call or e-mail away from another OWAA member who is always willing to give me a few minutes – or more. I think this kind of relationship with other OWAA members is what can help both attract and retain members.
3. How can we help new members, often unfamiliar with the organization, make the most of their membership, including the OWAA Goldenrod Workshop? As I described above, I believe encouraging new OWAA members to connect with other members from their state or region, or to connect to members who communicate through the same medium, is the best way to get the most out of being an OWAA member. I believe the Goldenrod Workshop is not only a great way for new members to connect with OWAA, but it’s a way for all members to reconnect with the organization and their calling as communicators.
4. What do we do with the newsletter and Web site? As someone employed by a traditional printed publication who revels in reading an unthumbed newspaper each evening, it’s hard for me to let go of a traditional, printed newsletter. While I’ve always enjoyed receiving Outdoors Unlimited – whether in its monthly version or its new quarterly version – our organization’s fiscal situation seems to dictate that we move as many of our communications online as possible. Beyond just dollars, there are benefits to this, including an increase in the frequency of communications with members, which could be seen as a benefit that helps retain members. ◊

BRETT PRETTYMAN

Residence: Utah
Year joined OWAA: 1992
Conferences attended: Four
Committees: Current: Ethics, Craft Improvement, Local chair of 2011 OWAA conference at Snowbird, Utah. Past: Norm Strung Youth Writing, Excellence in Craft, Member Recruitment.
Bio: Brett Prettyman has been an outdoor writer with the Salt Lake Tribune since 1990. The second edition of his book, “Fishing Utah,” came out in 2009. He is busy planning the 2011 OWAA Conference at Snowbird Resort, Utah. Brett lives in Salt Lake City with his wife, Brooke, and three children, William, Lucie and Owen.
1. The current business model for OWAA has changed drastically with advances in social and technology advancements. Our criteria for membership and our sources of income are not self-sustaining in present form unless we embrace these changes. How do you see OWAA adapting to these current trends and changes? Perhaps the best way to react to these changes is to follow the lead of our members. Many are leaders in utilizing the very advancements that can seem intimidating. Perhaps we can have a meeting at the next conference and ask members to help us make the most of the opportunities. OWAA needs to do more to attract the wide-ranging category of the outdoor writers. I feel there has been interest from writers outside of the traditional hook-and-bullet crowd in recent years,  and we need to do more to attract those folks.
2. While there is much thought and effort in attracting new members to OWAA, what can the organization do better to retain those members? The trick is always remaining relevant. Nobody is going to join just so they can say they are a member. They need a reason to join and a reason to renew. A lot of attention is paid to the annual conference in providing material for stories, columns and blogs, but those stories can only go so far. OWAA needs to do more throughout the year to help writers keep their editors and their blog readers happy. I suggest OWAA try to schedule monthly conference calls with relevant guests that can lead to stories. For example, help OWAA members have the chance to get fresh quotes from Boone and Crockett when a new world record elk is taken by having officials on a call. In addition, if there is breaking news and resources allow, OWAA can host a conference call to help members gets information vital to their stories.
3. How can we help new members, often unfamiliar with the organization, make the most of their membership, including the OWAA Goldenrod Workshop? It has been a while since I joined, so forgive me for not knowing, but I assume we already have a “Welcome to OWAA” kit that is sent to new members. If that isn’t being provided it should be. I also believe a mentor program is a good idea. When a new member joins, a mentor can make contact with them and welcome them and ask if they have any questions. A point can be made that the new member can contact their mentor with any question.
4. What do we do with the newsletter and Web site? There needs to be more interaction on the Web site. The ability to chat with our colleagues and share stories we are working on is invaluable. We all gain ideas from seeing what others have done and, if someone is working on a project that may be difficult, others can provide sources that may help. ◊

MARK FREEMAN

Residence: Oregon
Year joined OWAA: 1993
Conferences attended: Seven
Committees: National Affairs and Environment, Craft Improvement, EIC Contest Rules, Reference Manual.
Bio: Mark Freeman, 45, anchors a weekly four-page outdoors section in the Mail Tribune newspaper, which is centered in Medford, Ore., and covers southern Oregon and northern California. He’s been the outdoor columnist and a member of the paper’s environmental reporting team for the past 21 years. His beat covers issues ranging from traditional hook-and-bullet columns to in-depth reporting on endangered species issues and even hosting a series of online videos and blogs.
Freeman has participated or moderated workshops at the past four OWAA conferences and served as co-chair of OWAA’s Newspaper Section for four years until he was appointed to a vacant board seat in January 2009. Freeman regularly judges OWAA’s Excellence in Craft contests.
1. The current business model for OWAA has changed drastically with advances in social and technology advancements. Our criteria for membership and our sources of income are not self-sustaining in present form unless we embrace these changes. How do you see OWAA adapting to these current trends and changes? We need to streamline the membership criteria not only to make it easier for traditional communicators to join, but also to become more inviting to bloggers, Internet writers and other professionals. The SHOT Show in Las Vegas had more than 1,600 credentialed media, many of whom are Web site writers who don’t now have OWAA on their radar. We need to reach those people and make joining easier for them. Dues should go down, not up. We also need to show there’s room here for new outdoor writers who often explore beyond the core hook-and-bullet subjects. We are all more alike than we are different.
2. While there is much thought and effort in attracting new members to OWAA, what can the organization do better to retain those members? Not having OWAA live up to the recruiting-sales job can drive new members away. We need to show our relevance to members by offering even greater opportunities for networking and selling their work. The Web site needs to become more interactive and, therefore, used more by members. Conferences in unique and intriguing places will draw more interest and eventually lead to more members valuing regular attendance. And smaller, regional rendezvous could help members develop more working relationships with fellow members closer to home, ultimately sharing some of the long-term friendships for which OWAA is known.
3. How can we help new members, often unfamiliar with the organization, make the most of their membership, including the OWAA Goldenrod Workshop? It seems new members need to be shown the networking advantages of being one of us, a truly unique group of professionals. Regular discussion groups on the Web site can help members discover the wealth of knowledge we have among us. And, in turn, they can share what they know, their experiences and even a few story sources. We are our only true peers, the ones best suited to help each other. Over time, that makes OWAA invaluable.
4. What do we do with the newsletter and Web site? I like the changes so far, but we need to push forward by increasing the interactivity of the Web site and make it easier for members to post what they want. We’re late to enter this genre and it will take time for members to pull away from their old chat sites and get more in tuned with ours. ◊

PAUL QUENEAU

Residence: Montana
Year joined OWAA: 2007
Conferences attended: Three
Committees: Technology, Web site Improvement, Contests.
Bio: Paul Queneau is conservation editor of Bugle magazine at the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, where he also works on video, television and Web productions. Though he didn’t have the good sense to intern at OWAA during college in Missoula, he did become a proud member three years ago and helped launch Outdoors Unlimited online, refresh the OWAA Web site and lead conference seminars. He is also an avid wildlife photographer and videographer, Toastmaster, husband, father of two young boys, and most recently, a Cub Scout den leader.
1. The current business model for OWAA has changed drastically with advances in social and technology advancements. Our criteria for membership and our sources of income are not self-sustaining in present form unless we embrace these changes. How do you see OWAA adapting to these current trends and changes? Regardless of the medium, if someone makes a good portion of their living from outdoor communication, they ought to qualify for membership. As for sources of income, institutional investments and grants could help keep dues low. But things will largely solve themselves if OWAA is the hot ticket, indispensible to individuals, organizations and companies. That means researching the market, figuring out what people need and getting creative about how to become the conduit. And certainly by finding every way OWAA can be on the cutting edge of the electronic and social network mediums.
2. While there is much thought and effort in attracting new members to OWAA, what can the organization do better to retain those members? The manual to our profession is fast becoming defunct, and OWAA must write the handbook for the new age. We need good information more than ever to decipher this shift and understand where we fit on the other side. We need shrewd analysis of what is really happening, roadmaps to new or redefined markets, and education on the tidiest new technologies and how to best use them. Also, attracting and engaging editors and respected communicators from a variety of outdoor media genres will by its nature draw freelancers and companies looking to learn from (or cozy up to) the gatekeepers.
3. How can we help new members, often unfamiliar with the organization, make the most of their membership, including the OWAA Goldenrod Workshop? Attending conference. More than anything, this will put faces to names and give them a feel as to what we’re all about. I recently heard talk of webinars, which I think is more doable than ever and could be really helpful and popular.
4. What do we do with the newsletter and Web site? I think we’re on good path on the Web site, but I wouldn’t mind seeing the quarterly become a bi-monthly. For someone who stares at a screen all day and is always in a hurry at work, there is something cathartic about holding real paper in my hands in the evening and flipping the pages. It makes OWAA as a whole feel more substantial. This is perhaps hypocritical coming from the person who helped launch the e-newsletter, but the experience has proven to me the value of real, honest-to-God paper. And heck, while you’re at it, swing the other way too and put out a version of OU for smartphones, iPods and iPads! ◊

JEFF WILLIAMS

Residence: Arkansas

Year joined OWAA: 2003
Conferences attended: Seven
Committees: Magazine, Contests and member of a past local conference committee.
Bio: Jeff Williams has a background in newspapers and holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism from the University of Arkansas and UA-Little Rock. He worked in newspapers (including the Arkansas Gazette) for almost 20 years, covering sports, outdoors, features, business, police, food, music and politics before beginning work at the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) seven years ago. Williams has written freelance copy for many publications. He is editor of award-winning Arkansas Wildlife magazine and handles many other duties in the AGFC communications division. Williams is a member of the Association for Conservation Information board of directors and the National Association of Government Communicators. He enjoys photography, canoeing, kayaking, fishing and camping.
1. The current business model for OWAA has changed drastically with advances in social and technology advancements. Our criteria for membership and our sources of income are not self-sustaining in present form unless we embrace these changes. How do you see OWAA adapting to these current trends and changes? I’d like to see OWAA become as inclusive as possible. I don’t know what the current age of members is, but I believe most members came to OWAA as hunting or fishing (hook-and-bullet) writers. That’s great – I’ve done a lot of that myself. But I don’t think it’s wise to try to exist as a niche organization. Let’s attract hikers, rock climbers, canoeists, kayakers, birdwatchers, geocachers and everyone else who covers the outdoors.
Then again, OWAA can’t be all things to all writers and photographers (I include videographers, Web editors and all others in that group). Changes in technology are occurring faster than OWAA (and other organizations) can adapt. No one tool will answer all our problems; we must become more immediate on many fronts.
Networking always has been a big part of OWAA and electronic media can help us be more effective.
2. While there is much thought and effort in attracting new members to OWAA, what can the organization do better to retain those members? The Goldenrod Workshop is a step in the right direction. Members who attend the conference must walk away with tangible results. Word-of-mouth advertising is the best kind, which means conferences must make an impact. The word that OWAA can help writers must be circulated (some guerilla marketing wouldn’t hurt).
3. How can we help new members, often unfamiliar with the organization, make the most of their membership, including the OWAA Goldenrod Workshop? They must find contacts through OWAA or they have no reason to remain. They also must benefit from attending conferences, which makes our sessions very important. Frankly, I think the conference is in a rut. Perhaps we should consider an overhaul; maybe it’s time for new traditions to begin.
4. What do we do with the newsletter and Web site? We make them immediate. What’s the point of a Web site if information is old? I like our recent efforts to deliver information as it happens instead of waiting to publish a newsletter. OWAA’s Facebook page has 362 friends (now it has 363) – let’s have thousands. ◊

GARY GRAHAM

Residence: California
Year joined OWAA: 2001
Conferences attended: Four
Committees: Membership.
Bio: Gary Graham has parlayed his lifetime love of outdoors and fishing into a role of outdoor writer, photographer, conservationist, advocate and speaker.  He was inducted into the California Outdoors Hall of Fame in 2008.
Graham served three terms as president of the Outdoor Writers Association of California (OWAC). Under his leadership, OWAC recruited its first executive director, a successful move which strengthened the organization.  He increased OWAC’s Web presence and implemented an online monthly newsletter.  During his tenure, the involvement of the supporting member group improved, and the number of supporting members doubled.
In addition to authoring two books, Graham’s travels, sportfishing experiences and published credits are numerous. Some highlights include approximately 1,200 editions of his “Below the Border” travel and fishing reports, hundreds of feature articles in numerous publications, including: Big Game Fishing Journal, Bluewater and Sportfishing, Destino, Fly Fishing in Saltwater, Gringo Gazette, Marlin Magazine, a monthly column in Pacific Coast Sportfishing, Saltwater Fly Fishing, Saltwater Sportsman, Southwest Flyfishing, Sportfishing, The Drake, a featured column in Western Outdoor News, Western Outdoors Magazine, columnist for the Vagabundos Travel Club’s newsletter and senior editor for Pacific Coast Sportfishing.
Graham served as director of the National Coalition of Marine Conservation, Western Division, was two-time president of San Diego Marlin Club, and was co-founder of Friends of Fishing, an organization introducing fishing to the youth involved in the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America in San Diego.
His leadership activities in the outdoor community include: Avalon Tuna Club, member since the 1980s; former editor of the Tuna Club’s monthly newsletter; Hospital Foundation Board member; San Diego Marlin Club, lifetime member, International Game Fish Association (IGFA), Baja California representative; and Federation of Fly Fishers (FFF), certified fly casting instructor.
1. The current business model for OWAA has changed drastically with advances in social and technology advancements. Our criteria for membership and our sources of income are not self-sustaining in present form unless we embrace these changes. How do you see OWAA adapting to these current trends and changes? OWAA should continue to watch for new trends and embrace new tactics.  This requires an active, involved Board that is very selective in choosing the direction it steers OWAA.
2. While there is much thought and effort in attracting new members to OWAA, what can the organization do better to retain those members? OWAA should recognize regional strengths and capitalize on them.
3. How can we help new members, often unfamiliar with the organization, make the most of their membership, including the OWAA Goldenrod Workshop? Provide more connectivity for new members by introducing them to other members within their own area/state/region. This can be accomplished in the welcome letter, with copies to the other members within the same area. Committee structure could be strengthened by encouraging existing committee members to recruit new members as soon as they join the organization. A mentoring program could be established that begins with the nominating member soliciting his own network of OWAA members to welcome their new recruit. Explain conference benefits in real terms that reinforce the significant value of attending.
4. What do we do with the newsletter and Web site? More of the same.  Recent improvements to the OWAA Web site demonstrate its value as a communication tool for members as well as providing a tremendous marketing tool for the organization and its members. ◊
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