The Outdoor Writers Association of America honored six members with its most distinguished awards June 4, at the annual conference in Fort Wayne.
- J. Hammond Brown Memorial Award = Kevin Rhoades, of Missoula, Montana
- Excellence in Craft Award = Ben Moyer, of Farmington, Pennsylvania
- Jade of Chiefs Award = Holly Endersby, of Pollock, Idaho
- Jackie Pfeiffer Memorial Award = Steve Griffin, of Midland, Michigan
- Outstanding Board Member = Christine Peterson, of Newcastle, Wyoming
- Committee Volunteer of the Year = Ann Simpson, of Stephens City, Virginia
J. Hammond Brown Memorial Award
OWAA’s most prestigious recognition of a member for devoted past service to the organization over a period of continuous years.
Kevin Rhoades has served OWAA, not just as a member since 1999, but also an employee. He edited Outdoors Unlimited for several years before he became executive director in 2004. His six-year term encompassed a contentious and divisive time in the organization, but his steady and calming influence helped the organization recover, said Bill Powell, OWAA’s legal counsel and a past Ham Brown recipient.
“He unselfishly and tirelessly used skills developed during his prior careers in finance and wrangling grizzlies to help OWAA survive those trying times in relatively good shape and begin its recovery,” Powell said. “He used those same skills and others on many occasion to mediate pay and other disputes engaging OWAA members.”
The endowment trust was created under his tenure, as was the creation of a gift acceptance policy. Rhoades remained active in OWAA after leaving the executive director position. He served on committees, sometimes as chair, and is one of OWAA’s endowment trustees.
“The Ham Brown Award recognizes a member for ‘devoted past service to the organization over a period of continuous years,’” Powell said. “This phrase precisely describes what Kevin has done for the past 19 years.”
Excellence in Craft Award
For outstanding effort in upholding the OWAA creed and continued excellence in craft.
“Ben Moyer is a writer of excellence,” said Glenn Sapir, a past recipient of the Excellence in Craft award. “His copy demonstrates a love and sensitivity for the outdoors, and any article he writes exemplifies the ethical high road a sportsman should follow. None of this is done pedantically; he simples creates narratives that paint these pictures and set examples.”
Moyer is the outdoor columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and a columnist for Pennsylvania Outdoor News and Pennsylvania Game News. He is also the former editor of Pennsylvania Sportsman Magazine, where he demonstrated outstanding editorial judgment and editing skills and developed a large stable of contributors, many of whom he mentored to become better writers, Sapir said.
Moyer is a frequent contributor to the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Game News Magazine and frequently writes the coveted closing essay. He published a collection of some of his best work in the book “Out Back: Reflections from the Appalachian Outdoors.”
Moyer, an OWAA member since 1986, has taught writing classes and workshops and received numerous awards, including Audubon Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Wildlife Federation’s Conservation Communicator of the Year.
Jade of Chiefs Award
Nominated, voted on and presented by past award winners known as the “Circle of Chiefs.”
Holly Endersby’s first loves have always been public lands and waters, Pat Wray and Rich Patterson, past Jade of Chiefs recipients, said. That passion fueled her work as a freelance outdoor writer and took her to then newly formed Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, where she became national conservation director, the organization’s primary fundraiser and served as interim executive director.
Endersby received the Mike Beagle Chairman’s Award from the organization in 2017 for “significant contribution to raising the visibility and growth of BHA.”
She received the Weatherby Foundation International Writer Outreach Award for Journalist Excellence in the cause of conservation and hunting education in 2001. She’s also won numerous Excellence in Craft awards.
Endersby, an OWAA member for 18 years, has also served on the Outdoor Writers Association of America’s board, from 2004-2007.
She is a tireless advocate for conservation, Wray and Patterson said. She represented hunters and anglers for almost nine years on the Clearwater Basin Collaborative in north-central Idaho, protecting roadless areas, while working with timber companies, county commissioners and motorized interests. She is a life member of organizations including Trout Unlimited and The Nature Conservancy and served on the Idaho Nature Conservancy’s board of directors.
Jackie Pfeiffer Memorial Award
Awarded for exemplifying warmth and radiance, goodwill, helpfulness, generosity and kindness to others. Members and their spouses are eligible for this award.
The Jackie Pfeiffer Memorial Award originally began as a way to acknowledge member spouses who assisted staff at conference. But as employees have taken over those tasks, spouses no longer are needed to fill that role, said Glenn Sapir, a past recipient of the award.
However, the award criteria “genuine warmth and radiance, goodwill, helpfulness, generosity and kindness to others,” are still important and displayed in members like Steve Griffin, this year’s recipient, Sapir said. A member since 1976, Griffin has attended numerous conferences. He takes care to welcome green ribbons — those attending conference for the first time — and always offers a smile.
“Simply put, he’s a nice guy who is always ready to pitch in when a chore needs to be attended to at conference,” Sapir said.
Outstanding Board Member Award
Voted on and presented by OWAA’s board of directors.
OWAA’s board of directors recognized Christine Peterson as Outstanding Board Member of the Year. Peterson joined OWAA in 2012 and was elected to the board in 2016.“The board of directors had several strong contributors this year, but Christine was an absolute standout,” said outgoing president Phil Bloom. “That fact obviously caught the attention of her board colleagues, who voted her this honor. She regularly contributed valuable insights that helped shape the conversation of board business while adding to her contributions to OWAA matters by chairing not one but two committees – Officer Nominating and National Affairs & Environment.”
Committee Volunteer of the Year Award
Recognizes excellence, commitment and service and going beyond the call of duty while serving on an OWAA committee.
Ann Simpson is the second recipient of OWAA’s newest award, which recognizes members who volunteer their time to the organization through committee work.
Simpson is recognized for her efforts on the education committee. Noticing a lack of clear judging guidelines for the Norm Strung Youth Writing Contest, she took it upon herself to develop a rubric that standardized how the education committee can objectively evaluate the entrants.
An OWAA member since 2012, Simpson is a biology professor at Lord Fairfax Community College in Middletown, Virginia. She is also co-owner of Simpson’s Nature Photographer with her husband Rob and a writer and photographer for outlets including Falcon Guides and Farcountry Press.