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OWAA announces 2015 honorary award recipients

Four earned special recognition during the concluding banquet at OWAA’s 88th Annual Conference

MISSOULA, Mont. – At its recent annual conference in Knoxville, Tennessee, the Outdoor Writers Association of America®, “The Voice of the Outdoors®,” honored four with its most distinguished awards.

Excellence in Craft Award – Tim Christie, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
Jade of Chiefs Award – Pat Wray, of Corvallis, Oregon
Jackie Pfeiffer Memorial Award – Glenn Sapir, of Putnam Valley, New York
Outstanding Board Member – Colleen Miniuk-Sperry, of Chandler, Arizona

Excellence in Craft Award

Tim Christie, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, received OWAA’s 2015 Excellence in Craft Award. Christie has been a member of OWAA since 1984. The award honors an OWAA member “for outstanding effort in upholding the OWAA Creed and continued excellence in craft.”

“The first photograph Tim Christie published appeared on the cover of American Hunter in 1981. It was the start of a career that includes cover images on more than 500 magazine issues, including some of the biggest such National Wildlife, Field & Stream and Sports Afield, among others. Christie knows animal behavior and he also knows the light of the Rocky Mountains,” said Chris Madson, a previous recipient of the award.

“He also understands that you can’t get quality images unless you’re outdoors,” Madson said. “He’s out there almost all the time – capturing the image isn’t just a business with Tim; it’s a consuming passion.”

Christie’s career evolved to include writing reflecting a lifetime of outdoor experiences and the ability to capture the stories of people and their relationships with each other and the outdoors. He’s won more 60 awards in the Excellence in Craft photography contests and at least 11 for writing.

Jade of Chiefs Award

Pat Wray, of Corvallis, Oregon, received the 2015 Jade of Chiefs Award. The Jade of Chiefs Award was first established in 1958 as OWAA’s top conservation award. Although only OWAA members are eligible, it is not actually presented by the organization, but by past award winners, who are known as the Circle of Chiefs. The Circle is recognized as the OWAA’s conservation conscience and policy spokesman.

“Pat Wray embodies the values of conservation the Jade of Chiefs represent,” said Kris Thoemke, last year’s recipient of the award.

“He is a champion of our outdoor heritage who stands up for his beliefs and is not afraid of controversy,” Thoemke said. “Pat’s decades of experience in the outdoors where he observed, learned and formulated his views on conservation makes him fearless but fair when tackling controversial issues; it is one of the traits that has defined his career and earned him respect among his peers. With a conservation ethic that is second to none, the Circle of Chiefs made a wise decision by recognizing Pat’s accomplishments and his distinguished career as one of the voices of conservation.”

Jackie Pfeiffer Memorial Award

Glenn Sapir, of Putnam Valley, New York, received the 2015 Jackie Pfeiffer Memorial Award. This 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.

Shortly after receiving the Jackie Pfeiffer Memorial Award last year, Debbie Flanigan started thinking about a candidate for the next year and Glen Sapir’s name immediately came to mind. Sapir’s kind heart and helpful nature mirrors the attributes of the award’s namesake. Flanigan met Sapir years ago at an OWAA conference and he immediately made Flanigan and her husband Tim Flanigan feel welcome.

“He shared his genuine smile and warm handshake, which was also his promise of a helping hand,” Debbie Flanigan said. “Everyone who meets him quickly recognizes and admires his moral strength.  A consummate professional, his calm, instructive and always helpful demeanor induces those in his presence to stand a little taller to better absorb his warmth and goodwill. Reliable, insightful and caring, Glenn Sapir readily gives his personal attention to another’s needs.”

Outstanding Board Member Award

Colleen Miniuk-Sperry, of Chandler, Arizona, received the 2015 Outstanding Board Member Award.

“There’s no secret to those who work with her why Colleen’s been board member of the year, each of her first two years on the board,” said Mark Freeman, OWAA’s most recent past president. “She’s passionate about this group and crazily organized. But what really stands out about Colleen is how she uses her business background to help us as OWAA members learn more about ourselves. Her membership survey generated some hard data that really opened some eyes about who we are and we’re going as an organization. I can say we’re a better organization, and better people, for knowing Colleen.”

“Beyond the membership survey, Miniuk-Sperry is always there to lend a hand when needed,” said Tom Sadler, executive director.

An OWAA member since 2010, Miniuk-Sperry is an outdoor photographer, writer, instructor, speaker and book author specializing in outdoor recreation, nature, conservation and travel.

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