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OWAA welcomes Richard Louv, other national speakers to Alaska conference

Author Richard Louv, Denali National Park and Preserve Superintendent Paul Anderson and professional ornithologist John C. Robinson will speak Sept. 4-6 at Chena Hot Springs Resort.

By Bill Graham, 2012 Conference Program Chair

In line with the theme “North to Alaska for new frontiers in journalism,” the featured speakers at this year’s OWAA conference will share how they explore new frontiers in the human outdoor experience.

We are proud to announce that ground-breaking author Richard Louv is coming to Chena Hot Springs Resort. He’s one of us, a career journalist, whose last two books are drawing international recognition. For example, when we received confirmation in mid-April that Louv would speak at our conference, he was in the midst of preparing to give a keynote speech at the White House Summit on Environmental Education.

This 2012 event marks a return visit by Louv to our conference. Many of us were deeply touched by his 2007 presentation in Roanoke, Va., on the heels of his bestseller, “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder.”

I invited him back for three reasons: influence, a new book and hope.

  • Influence: No journalist, author or speaker campaigning about the human need for connections with the outdoors and nature has reached more people, and a wider range of people, in the past five years. He’s been on society’s front lines of change, appearing in national media and working with those planning for a more naturalistic future. His updated viewpoint is valuable to outdoor communicators.
  • A new book: In 2011, Louv published a new book broader in scope, “The Nature Principle: Human Restoration and the End of Nature-Deficit Disorder.” The book begins with the sensory alertness that comes from salmon fishing in Alaska near grizzly bears. Louv explores how nature and outdoor recreation benefits all levels of human experience. This sounds simple, but Louv digs incredibly deep, asking profound questions and pulling scientific research together about what makes people seek our craft.
  • Hope: Louv provides hope. Journalism is battered and natural resources are strained by societal and landscape changes. The future this philosopher and fact-finder envisions promises new frontiers for outdoor communications.

What’s his book about? “Louv makes a convincing case that we are entering the most creative period in history, that in fact the twenty-first century will be the era of human restoration in the natural world. This encouraging and influential work offers renewed optimism while challenging us to rethink the way we live,” says a summary on his website.

We are also honored to welcome featured speaker Paul Anderson, superintendent of Denali National Park and Preserve. Anderson presides over one of America’s most spectacular natural landscapes. But the park’s popularity makes preserving unspoiled wilderness a challenge. He will open our conference with a major view of what makes Alaska and the state’s outdoor treasurers not only beautful, but important to the world.

The OWAA conference planning team met Anderson at the park visitor center during our Alaska site visit last year. He told captivating stories about record-breaking mountaintop rescues, deep winter patrols and the park’s wildness.

And we are fortunate to have noted ornithologist John C. Robinson at our podium. His appearance is made possible thanks to a generous sponsorship by Audubon Alaska.

Robinson is a 26-year veteran of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service. But he’s also an outdoor communicator: he is a book author and a speaker appearing nationally. His book that drew our attention is “Birding for Everyone, Encouraging People of Color to Become Birdwatchers.” Increasing diversity in the outdoors is important for the future of conservation and outdoor recreation. After his speech, Robinson will join other panelists for a discussion on improving diversity in the outdoor communications field.

The featured speakers are but part of a far broader conference program that includes craft improvement sessions and newsmakers. Learn more about our featured speakers and other presenters at

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