In June of 2020, OWAA presented its first-ever virtual conference – and virtual membership meeting!​

Thank you to our sponsors!

Olympus, NSSF, Guyana, SigSauer

OWAA Virtual Conference

Thank you for joining us! 

Thank you to all who participated in our first Virtual Conference! While we all would have preferred to meet in person at Jay Peak in Vermont (plan to join us there in 2021!), our virtual platforms allowed us to connect, share, socialize and learn.

An added benefit of holding a virtual conference is that ALL sessions were recorded and will continue to be available to registrants (for free!) for the coming year. If you missed a session, simply go to the agenda in Socio, find and click on the session, scroll to the bottom of that session’s page and you will see the link to the recording!

But wait, there’s more! Even if you did not register for the conference, you will be able to access the session recordings for a fee. We are working on minor editing and plan to upload the recordings to Vimeo, where you will have the option of accessing just the one that intrigues you or the whole selection! Keep an eye on this web page for details as they are available, and check out the Program below to see what you missed, but will be able to access!

If you’d like to know who the various honorary award recipients are, click here for a PDF version of the Awards Powerpoint Presentation.

As always, registrants can reach out if you have questions about how to access the conference content  – leslie -at- delaneymeetingevent -dot- com


Thursday, June 25, 2020
7:00 pm (EDT)Membership Meeting
Open to all members, no registration required. Link to participate will be emailed to members when it is available
Friday, June 26, 2020
2:00 pm – 2:30 pm (EDT)

Welcome Remarks

Original Conference Program Coordinator Pat Wray and Virtual Conference Program Coordinator Christine Peterson will welcome all to the first OWAA Virtual Conference! They will be joined by special guest Dr. Mamie Parker, Chair of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Commission.
2:30 pm – 3:30 pm (EDT)

Keynote Presentation: The North American Model, COVID-19, and Wild Meat
Shane Mahoney, Conservation Visions; (Moderator: Drew YoungeDyke)

Worldwide, COVID-19 has stolen the lives of loved ones and caregivers alike and given rise to an economic and health services crisis of colossal proportions. Heightened food insecurity was bound to follow and has now become a worsening problem for many communities and individuals, a further symptom of what may be truly described as a global, systemic illness. Even in wealthy countries, access to nutritious food is proving unpredictable as food chains everywhere confront logistical bottlenecks. And North America is far from unaffected. Even before the pandemic, more than 48 million Americans and 4 million Canadians regularly experienced food insecurity. Recent studies show the problem is getting worse in both countries. Meanwhile, charities commonly report that citizens who struggle with food insecurity are most often “desperate for meat and protein items”. To say this reality is amplified by our current situation is an understatement. While would-be consumers struggle with lost wages and reduced buying capacity, the current lockdowns and the subsequent distribution and supply chain disruptions triggered by COVID-19 have laid bare the fragility of most people’s guaranteed access to essentials – including food – even in the US and Canada. There is, however, one community of consumers fundamentally and historically better prepared to confront our current problems and to also provide for their families and friends at this time; one community for whom food security has an altogether different meaning – the wild harvest community.
4:00 pm – 5:30 pm (EDT)

So You’re Freelance, Now What?
Paul Queneau, The Bugle; Bill Powell, Attorney; Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan, Freelance Writer; (Moderator: Matt Miller)

Maybe you have a pink slip. Maybe you’re using recent events to shift into a freelance career. Maybe you’re considering moving more into freelance. Whatever your situation, we are here to break down the nitty gritty of setting up LLCs, acquiring EINs, finding places to pitch, working with editors and so much more. Consider this a brief primer on your freelance career.
4:00 pm – 5:30 pm (EDT)

Women’s Summit on Outdoor Communication
Christine Dell’Amore, senior editor of National Geographic’s Animals desk; Tonya Fitzpatrick, founding publisher of World Footprints, member of the Explorers Club and delegate to the U.S. Commission on the Status of Women; Kirsten Kinkead, director of photography operations at Eddie Bauer; and Natalie Krebs, Senior editor at Outdoor Life. (Moderator: Katie McKalip, communications director of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers)

Being a woman in the outdoors comes with its own set of challenges and opportunities; in the field, in the newsroom and in the boardroom. Think of this less as a panel and more of a conversation among five women who have been successful in all areas of the outdoor media landscape. They’ll talk about barriers women historically faced in the world of outdoor communications, the outdoor industry and the outdoors in general – and how they have overcome those barriers. They’ll also offer positive and proactive tips, ideas and advice for women who want to follow their own trailblazing paths and for others in the outdoor world who want to help lift up female voices.
6:00 pm – 7:30 pm (EDT)

Photo Scavenger Hunt Critique
Joe and Mary Ann McDonald, McDonald Wildlife Photography; (Moderator: Colleen Miniuk)

The Photo Scavenger Hunt is always one of the most popular events at the OWAA conference, with some of the nation’s top outdoor photographers competing for CASH AND PRIZES. Photographers submit just one frame of the five required subjects, forcing them to “get it right” on a tight deadline. The competition is always dazzling, humorous and educational. The Scavenger Hunt awards program is traditionally a heavily-attended event at the conference—this year, we’re bringing the contest online! Full details will be provided to registrants on June 16. Click here to read the contest rules.
8:00 pm – 10:00 pm (EDT)

Virtual Party: The 1st Annual OWAA Storytime
Kris Millgate, Tight Line Media; Tom Huggler, Freelance Writer; Karen Loke, Texas Parks and Wildlife; Pat Wray; Steve Griffin; Bill Graham, Dan Small. (Moderator: Chez Chesak, OWAA)

OWAA takes storytelling to new heights with our first annual storytelling event! The speakers will be virtual but the stories will be as real as they get, with amazing tales that are funny, melancholy, and sometimes perhaps a little ’tall,’ from OWAA peers. They will unabashedly share personal stories that will make you laugh, maybe make you shed a tear and will certainly make you think.

As a virtual event, we’ve had to cut back on the number of presenters that we’d normally have but we’re happy to present to you these ‘magnificent seven’ who will entertain you with their tales of outdoor life.

Our executive director, Chez Chesak, has led several of these storytelling sessions at other industry events and he’ll be your emcee. So grab your beverage of choice, sit back and drink in these fabulous tales!

  • Kris Millgate – Story: Groping a Grizzly

  • Steve Griffin – Story: Jimbo Was Missing

  • Tom Huggler – Story: Egg on my Face

  • Pat Wray – Story: Revenge of the Turkey Vulture

  • Dan Small – Story: If I Were a Beaver

  • Bill Graham – Story: Pat McManus Sneaks Up on A Punchline

  • Karen Loke – Story: Being a New Mom Outdoors On the Job

Saturday June 27, 2020
10:00 am – 11:00 am (EDT)

Artists in Residence Program; Is it Right for You?
Colleen Miniuk, CMS Photography and Matthew Dickerson, Middlebury College; (Moderator: Chris Madson)

In this lively discussion, Matthew Dickerson (a past Artist-in-Residence in multiple national parks including Acadia, Glacier, and Lake Clark) and Colleen Miniuk, a three-time Artist-in-Residence in Acadia National Park) join forces to review the in’s and out’s about the many Artist-in-Residency program opportunities across the country. Learn more about the application process, what you can expect during and after a term, and ways it can help you expand and amplify your outdoor voice.
10:00 am – 11:00 am (EDT)

Innovative Ways to Build an Online Audience in a Post COVID World
Gary Ardnt, Everything-Everywhere.com travel blog; (Moderator: Chez Chesak)

The world has changed in 2020. All of the old rules for online publishing have been thrown out the window. Gary will go over where things are currently, what you need to focus on, and how to diversify your revenue streams.
11:30 am – 12:30 pm (EDT)

DSLR v Mirrorless Cameras for the Outdoor Photographer
Noah Buchanan, Hunts Photo and Video; Eric Sives, Olympus; Mike Lopez, Nikon

Not sure about the pros and cons of mirrorless cameras? We’re here to help. This webinar will clear up common misconceptions while addressing:

  • Mirrorless vs DSLR
  • Lens options
  • Explanation of the electronic viewfinder
  • Adaptability of old lenses and different mounts
  • Entry level and professional level options.
  • In body stabilization
11:30 am – 12:30 pm (EDT)

What’s Happening in our Ocean?
David Helvarg, Blue Frontier; (Moderator: Tom Sadler)

Helvarg a long-time author, journalist and ocean activist will talk about the Blue Beat, how the only resource in the ocean not fully exploited is good stories, offering great opportunities for Outdoor Writers. He’ll review some of the major challenges facing the ocean including overfishing, pirate fishing and slavery, pollution, loss of habitat and the growing impact of climate change – not just rising seas but physical changes to the ocean – its circulation, temperature, chemistry and color.
But he’ll balance the warning with the wonders he’s seen plus discuss solutions including an Ocean Climate Action Plan, a “Blue New Deal” he’s working on to help turn the tide and restore the blue in our red, white and blue.
11:30 am – 12:30 pm (EDT)

Different Routes to Book Publishing
Colleen Miniuk, CMS Photography; Matt Miller, The Nature Conservancy; Kris Millgate, Tight Line Media; (Moderator: Emily Stone)

In today’s market, authors have three major avenues for getting their book published: using a traditional publisher, hiring a publishing service, or self-publishing. In this panel, three experienced authors share their perspectives on the pros and cons of each route, prerequisites for engagement, roles and responsibilities involved, expected royalty/payout structures, and more to help you decide which path is best for your manuscript. Bring your questions—we can help!
1:00 pm – 2:00 pm (EDT)Lunch – please visit out Sponsor listings and check out their links to special deals and videos!
2:00 pm – 3:00 pm (EDT)

Are We Loving Nature to Death? If So, What Can We Do About It?
‘Steve’ (AKA Public Lands Hate You); Brendan Fisher, Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, Environmental Program, University of Vermont; Scott Bacon, Nature First Photography; (Moderator: Ashley Stimpson)

Geotagging, influencers and an evolving wave of social media communication are spawning a whole new generation of threats to the natural world. But what is the best way to respond?
2:00 pm – 3:00 pm (EDT)

Writing for Kids
Ken Keffer, Freelance Writer; Lisa Ballard;  Michael Furtman; Tom Huggler, Freelance Writer; (Moderator: Emily Stone)

This session will help you better understand how to create compelling, age-appropriate prose for children. Panelists will cover a variety of topics including vocabulary choices, topics and story-lines that work for kids, whether to self-publish children’s books or go the traditional route, other non-traditional outlets for kids prose, and how to make money in the children’s writing market.
3:30 pm – 4:30 pm (EDT)

Controlling Invasive Species
Chad Tokowicz, American Sportfishing Association; Shane Mahoney, Conservation Visions, Inc.; (Moderator: Drew YoungeDyke)

Controlling Invasive Species explores efforts to control the impact that invasive species have on native fish and wildlife, fishing, hunting, and the economies and wild harvest they support. The panel discussion features Shane Mahoney, founder of Conservation Visions and the Wild Harvest Initiative, and Chad Tokowicz, Inland Fisheries Policy Manager for the American Sportfishing Association. Drew YoungeDyke, Manager of Sporting Communications for the National Wildlife Federation, will moderate.
3:30 pm – 4:30 pm (EDT)

Taking Video and Editing it on Your Cell Phone
Karen Loke, Television News Producer, Texas Parks and Wildlife; (Moderator: Ann Simpson)

Learn the basics of shooting, organizing media and editing video and stills on your cell phone using text and music (I-phone, specifically) as well as some tips on grabbing audience attention.
3:30 pm – 4:30 pm (EDT)

Working on Company Publications with Words and Photos
Brad Wieners, Patagonia; Kirsten Kinkead, Eddie Bauer; Andrew Cox, Shimano; (Moderator: Christine Peterson)

Many companies use freelancers to offer impressive publications and social media campaigns. Hear from three leaders in the business about what they need, what they’re looking for and how to make that connection.
5:00 pm – 6:30 pm (EDT)

Meet the Editors
Alex Robinson, Outdoor Life; Christine Dell’Amore, National Geographic; Amy Kapp, Rails to Trails; Janice Stillman, The Old Farmer’s Almanac; (Moderator: Christine Peterson)

Moderated by Christine Peterson. This is your chance to hear from four top editors about what they need and how to successfully pitch. Expect plenty of time for questions and answers.
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm (EDT)

Excellence in Craft and Honorary Awards Ceremony

OWAA President Tim Mead will lead the organization in presenting the Excellence in Craft Awards as well as major awards including the Circle of Chiefs and Ham Brown.


What digital platform will the conference be on?

  • Socio

What is Socio and how to I get access?

  • Socio is an App that contains almost all aspects of the conference:
    • Your schedule with details about sessions and speakers
    • Opportunities to connect with other attendees
    • Sponsor info and links to learn more about their latest offerings
    • Announcements to keep you up to date
    • Social feed where you can post comments, links, photos…
  • A day or two after you register, you will receive an email invite with information about how to access both the Socio Web App (for your desktop computer) and Mobile App (for mobile devices)

What can I do in the Socio Web App?

  • View the agenda
  • Filter the agenda by track
  • Click on the Live Stream link once it is available to view the live sessions
  • Come back later and click on the Recording link if you missed the live session
  • Build your personal agenda by clicking the plus sign to the right of the sessions
  • Learn more about other attendees, sponsors, and speakers by clicking on them

What can I do in the Socio Mobile App?

  • Build and update your profile
  • Post comments and pictures to the conference wall
  • Connect with other attendees, speakers, and sponsors – then you can chat!
  • Rate and review sessions

How will I log in?

  • Using your email address and the passphrase provided in your email invite

Will I be on video throughout the conference?

  • No, as an attendee, you will largely be watching webinar-style presentations (but there should also be social events set up as meetings that you can choose to participate in where you could use your webcam)

How do I bid on auction items?

  • Click this link to go to the auction site (which is on a platform called Auction Frogs), to review all the items that will be available
  • You can register on the site now to be ready for when the auction is open
  • The auction opens Friday, June 26th at 2pm ET and you’ll be able to bid on items then, until it closes on Saturday, June 27th at 10pm ET
  • NOTE that the platform’s ‘Bid Wars’ are in effect (which means that if an item receives bids within the last 10 minutes of the auction ending, its closing time will extend 10 minutes and will continue to extend until no new bids have been placed within the extended time allowed.
  • ALSO NOTE that you can use the platform’s Auto Bidding feature, which allows you to enter your maximum bid (your bids will be automatically increased to the next high bid increment without exceeding your maximum bid amount)

Can I bid on auction items even if I don’t register for the conference?

  • Yes, all OWAA members are welcome to participate in the auction.
  • Encourage all your OWAA friends to bid early – and often!

Will there be a photo scavenger hunt?

  • Yes, and details are posted in the Socio App
  • Registrants will have access to this year’s five subjects and link to upload pictures on June 16
  • Deadline for submission is June 21, 11:59 PM EDT

Will the sessions be recorded?

  • Yes

How long do I have to go back and view each session after the conference?

  • The Socio App will remain in place for at least one year with links to recorded sessions available throughout that time

Do you really expect me to sit in one place, at my desk, that long?

No, we don’t! As you absorb these great sessions, we expect you to:

  • Be prepared to move around to different locations with your laptop or tablet
  • Really make use of that stand-up desk that you’ve been sitting down at for far too long
  • Or get creative and follow along as you use your exercise bike or rowing machine
  • Plus, we’ll have lots of breaks too!

Thank You To Our Sponsors!

Olympus, NSSF, Guyana, SigSauer
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