The 2021 OWAA Annual Conference will be held in Vermont at Jay Peak Resort, Oct. 4-6.

Overview: ‘Seeking Stability’

OWAA’s 2021 conference at Jay Peak Resort in Vermont is about ‘Seeking Stability.’

Few of us have lived through years with more global upheaval than 2020 and early 2021. We watched as the world shut down. We clambered to make a living, to remain relevant, and to stay safe and healthy. You told us during this year of uncertainty that you wanted support and services in a changing world. OWAA responded. We moved our 2020 conference online, began offering monthly webinars, and hosted a mid-year virtual conference.

We also heard you say you wanted more hands-on workshops and skills. As we look to the exciting in-person possibilities that 2021 brings, we’re thrilled to offer 2021’s annual conference Oct. 4 to 6 at gorgeous Jay Peak Resort in rural Vermont during peak leaf season.

You can expect the staples we love about OWAA conferences.

  • Keynote addresses by inspiring speakers
  • Panels with editors who are hiring
  • Close looks at all of the latest gear
  • Hospitality suites, socializing and networking
  • Pre- and post-tours

We’ll also bring you sessions on ways to pay for projects and navigating the ever-changing social media world.

Most importantly, you’ll get plenty of time to do what we’ve been missing for the last year: Catch up with old friends, meet new ones, and expand your business.

Keep returning here for more updates as we formalize speakers and workshop titles. Registration is now openOutdoor media who are BIPOC, LGBTQ+ and/or disabled are very much encouraged to register and join us!

Pre-, Spouse/Partner and Post-Tours

Thanks to Local Conference Chair Gary Moore for all his work pulling together these great pre-, post- and spouse/partner trips!

Note that this is just a tentative list of probable tour options. This list is subject to change as further details are confirmed with our hosts. Once details are finalized, we will then open a registration window (between specific dates) and registrations will be first-come, first-served. We hope to open that registration window at 10 AM ET on August 9. Unless specifically noted, attendees are responsible for their own transportation. Trips are listed chronologically (pre-tours, those tours that may be both/either pre or post, spouse tours, and then post-tours) and then alphabetically by title.

Group pick up in Burlington on Oct. 3rd and then head to Airport Park in Colchester to meet Local Motion who will outfit the group with bikes. A Local Motion guide will lead the group across the Colchester causeway into the middle of Lake Champlain (about 8 miles round trip). After the ride, the group will head to Shelburne Vineyard for a wine tasting and lunch from Folino’s pizza. Then it’s off to the 45-acre Shelburne Museum for a tour of their wildfowl decoys (a collection of 1,400) and Vermont firearms made between 1790 and 1900. Group transportation back to Burlington.

  • Max six pax
  • Cost for spouse: $80

Thanks to Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing for this tour!

Many thanks to Vermont Fish & Wildlife for offering these one-day trips on Oct. 3rd and/or 7th! More details on each will be announced in the future, as we get further details from the agency. 

  • PRE (10/3) – Lake Memphremagog Fishing Trip: Guided trips for bass and pike on Lake Memphremagog (limit two pax per trip).
  • PRE (10/3) – Morning Bird Walk at Jay Peak: A two-hour morning bird walk/hike leaving from Jay Peak including a discussion of bird habitats/conservation in VT (limit 12 pax per trip).
  • POST (10/7) – Brook Trout Stream Restoration: View wild brook trout habitat restoration projects on streams in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom.
  • POST (10/7) – Canoe the Clyde River: Canoe the Clyde River for a botany/ecological/birding/naturalist (limit 12 pax in six canoes per trip).
  • POST (10/7) – Eagle Point WMA on Lake Memphremagog: stop at Eagle Point WMA and Bluffside Farm (VLT) to see if we can find migrating songbirds and waterfowl on the lake (6-12 pax per trip).             
  • BOTH PRE & POST – Charter fishing trip for salmon and lake trout on Lake Champlain (limit two-three pax per trip, 2-4 hours).
  • BOTH PRE & POST – Walk in on collared cow moose and calf (limit two pax per trip, 4 hours).
  • BOTH PRE & POST – Boat trip on Lake Champlain to visit islands and learn about double crested cormorant management efforts (limit 2-4 pax per trip).
  • BOTH PRE & POST – Salmon fishing on the Clyde River as early October is prime time (limit two pax per trip).
  • BOTH PRE & POST – Tour conserved bear habitat near Jay Peak with VF&W biologist (limit twelve pax per trip).

We will drive via shuttle to Newport for a two hour mid-day cruise on Lake Memphremagog with a wine and cheese tasting aboard the Northern Star. The narrated trip will discuss what is being seen and the rich history of the lake going back to pre-Revolutionary days, up through prohibition when it was a major smuggling route and up to the present. The cruise will be followed by a stop at the Eden Cider Tasting Bar, then on the way back to Jay Peak a stop at Brian and Jenn Cook’s Kingdom Brewing. Their motto is “It’s a mile from Canada but a million miles from normal.”

  • This trip will have a fee to participate as was the case at past conferences. There will be a fee for the boat trip and the other stops will be opportunities for participants to purchase their own items.

The group will be shuttled to Derby Line for a tour of the Haskell Opera House, a unique facility that straddles the U.S./Canada border. Pose for photos inside the library with one foot in Canada and the other in the U.S. From there we will take a short scenic drive south to Brownington and the Old Stone House Museum. There, we’ll learn about Alexander Twilight, a black man who graduated from Middlebury College and is claimed to be the first African American to earn a baccalaureate from an American college or university. He was a minister, a teacher, and a principal in Vermont. A box lunch will be provided to eat on the grounds of the museum.

  • This trip will have a fee to participate as was the case at past conferences.

Tentative Itinerary:
Thursday, October 7

  • Pick up from Jay Peak
  • Lunch at local restaurants
  • Choice of mountain biking on signature Waterbury trails or disc golf (please indicate your preference and ability level when you contact Ariel)
  • Sunset hike
  • Dinner and drinks at a local restaurant
  • Limit four media members (plus one guest each for a $300 fee)

Friday, October 8

  • Guided paddle tour on the Waterbury Reservoir
  • Picnic lunch and beer sampling
  • Short hikes and scenic drives in the area
  • Beer sampling, dinner, and time to explore historic downtown Waterbury

Saturday, October 9
Drop off at Burlington airport in the morning

Max four participants. 

Thanks to Discover Waterbury for this tour!

Group pick up at Jay Peak on Oct. 7th and then head to Johnson, VT to meet Lamoille Valley Bike Tours who will outfit the group with e-bikes. A Lamoille Valley Bike Tours guide will lead the group, making stops along the rail trail to point out landmarks and for photo ops.  The tour will include stops at Black Cap Coffee & Beer, Lost Nation Brewing for a tasting and lunch and Rock Art Brewery almost exclusively accessible from the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail and from the comfort of an electric bicycle. Group transportation to Burlington will be provided. 

  • Max six pax.
  • Cost for spouse: $90

Thanks to Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing for this tour!

Jay Peak is the highest point in northern Vermont and provides extensive views of the northern Champlain Valley to the west, the Northeast Kingdom to the east and Quebec to the north. The Long Trail, which runs from Massachusetts to Quebec and is managed by the Green Mountain Club, climbs steeply from the parking area on VT-242. The hike is 3.4 miles round trip and is quite rigorous. The summit is rocky and open with views in all directions. GMC Executive Director Mike DeBonis will lead the trip.

  • Participants need to be prepared for a strenuous 3.4-mile hike and have food (snacks and for lunch at the summit), water, raingear, proper footwear
  • Maximum: 9 pax
  • Depart @ 9:30 AM on Oct. 7th
  • Note too that others can take the tram up to the top to meet the hikers for lunch

Thanks to the Green Mountain Club for this tour!

On Oct. 7th, paddle 6.5 miles on moving flatwater from Richford to East Berkshire. Leave canoes at the takeout and ride bikes (provided by the Jay Cloud Cyclery who will drop them there for us) five miles back to the vehicle along the Missisquoi Valley Rail Trail. Visit the Jay Cloud Cyclery in Montgomery Center for refreshment on the way back to Jay.

  • $50/person and includes lunch, all paddling gear, and a bike rental for the rail trail ($60 if the participant wants an e-bike)
  • Limit five pax

Thanks to the Northern Forest Canoe Trail for this tour!

fishing and/or small game license for conference attendees.
Each attendee participating in a fishing or small game activity will need to fill out
sections 1, 2, 3 (if applicable), 4 and 6 of the sporting license application. If small
game is selected, a license affidavit will need to be completed as well, unless they
have held a valid hunting license in Vermont in the previous years. In lieu of the license
affidavit, hunters can submit a copy of their hunter education card or a copy of a
hunting license as verification of eligibility.
Each participant should return the required forms via email to
Once processed, an email confirmation will be sent to the email designated on the
license application with a link to print their license. If participants choose, an
electronic/digital version of the license is acceptable.
Many thanks to Vermont Fish & Wildlife for offering these licenses to conference attendees!

NEW: Workshops!

This year, we’re also offering something new and exciting. Instead of 3 days of 50-minute sessions in classrooms with PowerPoints, we’ll be hosting 3-hour workshops on Oct. 4 and 5 meant to introduce you to new skills and polish the ones you’ve been using for years. Expect space to practice, receive feedback, interact and spend time in the field!

Workshops will be capped around 10 students to ensure personalized instruction and interaction. Each attendee will be able to attend two.  Once details are finalized, we will then open a registration window (between specific dates) and registrations will be first-come, first-served. We will open the registration window at 10 AM ET on Monday, August 9th.

Topics will include:

Speaker: Tony Jones

Write what you know, they say. But it turns out that’s harder than it looks, especially when the genre of memoir may have already passed its peak of popularity. However, memoir is only one of the ways to embed your own story in what you write. In this class, we will explore memoir, but we’ll also look at first-person narrative in outdoors journalism, essays, and even “auto-fiction” as methods to tell your story in writing. The goal of the class will be to discern how best to tell your story—in what genre, style, and voice.

Speaker: Ruth Hoyt

Join Ruth Hoyt as she shares ethical practices for creating wildlife photo opportunities. Her workshop starts with a brief introduction and review of camera gear you can use for wildlife photography. Ruth specializes in building outdoor photo studio setups for attracting and photographing wild birds and small mammals in natural settings. She will help participants with hands-on techniques for spontaneous wildlife photography on the trail.

Speaker: Wayne Hubbard

Learn concrete steps to boost your on-screen presense whether for short videos, long documentaries or even Zoom calls. Join Wayne Hubbard, the Co-Founder, Host and Producer of Multi-Award Winning Syndicated TV Show, Urban American Outdoors, as he walks you through tips and tricks for being comfortable in front of the camera. Special thanks to Toyota for making this workshop possible.

Speaker: Rick Saez

Simple steps to identify your ideal listener, sort out the equipment, how to record and edit, publish and make your podcast irresistible so your followers say YES, I WANT TO LISTEN TO THAT!! Expect a hands-on class with plenty of opportunity to interview, record, edit and practice.

Speaker: Matthew Dickerson

This workshop will focus on creative narrative non-fiction that is both personal and informed, specifically with a focus on ecology, nature writing, or outdoor writing–or some combination of the above. We will look together at some examples of excellent essays that have a personal narrative voice and yet successfully interweave elements of science, history, interviews, or observation of nature, and then take some time to practice that craft in a workshop setting. Participants will learn what makes such an essay excellent, how to approach writing a work of narrative non-fiction, and some very helpful elements of the writing craft that can be used to polish and refine our essay writing.

Speaker: David Gilligan, Faculty in Ecology at Sterling College

For thousands of generations, nature has been our best teacher, the primary context for the human endeavor. The practice of the naturalist: observation, description and interpretation of the natural world, is, essentially, the practice of being human. Our ancestors engaged in this same practice a million years ago and over the course of millennia it shaped and defined who we are. Every time we go out into the field and run our fingers over the surface of a leaf, catch the movement of an animal in our peripheral vision, note a change of light coming through the forest canopy or a shift in the feel of the air as the weather changes, we are living to our fullest potential. Nature is the source of the diversity of life on Earth and consequently for the development and flourishing of diverse human cultures, relationships, thoughts, dreams and ideas. This session will explore the ancient roots of natural history, the types of questions naturalists ask about the world, and how this inquiry into nature can infuse our storytelling with a sense of deep time: colliding continents, ancient seas, epic mountains, the migrations of forests, and the symbiosis of birds, bees, flowers, and trees.

Speaker: Lisa Ballard

The 2021 OWAA conference will take place as the fall foliage is reaching its peak in northern Vermont. What an opportunity! This workshop will teach you how to capture this colorful phenomenon, including scenics and close-ups of maples and other leaves. It will cover composition, lighting, lens choice for DSLR users, what’s possible with point-and-shoots and phone cameras, and other aspects of fall foliage photography based on the photo equipment that an attendee has. I’ve been shooting (and selling) fall foliage images for over 25 years, and have won many awards in this genre. It’s one of my specialties, having lived in New England for most of my life. The class will be roughly 1/3 how-to + 1/3 field work + 1/3 photo critique.

Speakers: Ann & Rob Simpson

If you have ever said “I have a nice camera, but I don’t know how to use it, or I would like to know more about all the features and how to use them” join Ann and Rob Simpson for a personalized, small group photography session. Their teaching style has been described as relaxed, patient, and stress free and in just a few hours you can gain confidence with your camera and learn how to take “wow” photos. From point-and-shoot users who would like to know more about how their camera works to those with more advanced cameras who would like to improve their techniques, all levels of photographers are welcome.

Speaker: Greg Schwipps

What moments need to be slowed down and fully shown? What information is necessary, but could be “fast-forwarded” through? How to blend the necessary exposition into scenes that build character through dialogue, action or world-building? In this workshop, we will explore elements of scene-building, and discuss the merits of the right kind of exposition.

Speaker: Rissa Miller

As surely as the ever-changing flow of nature inspires and propels you forward, poems can shift your perspective and enhance your way of seeing. This class will combine the energy of the natural world with the subtle power of poetic words to transform your writing and offer a fresh literary vision to creators of all genres.

Speaker: Laura Beebe, Faculty in Environmental Humanities at Sterling College

How do we embed ourselves in the hidden languages of a new place? What are the various and sometimes competing ways that diverse cultures have labeled and described natural spaces? And how can learning about place names, local phrases and historical travelogues inform one’s descriptive storytelling? This workshop will introduce participants to the fields of place-based storytelling and linguistic ethnoecology. We will explore visual, oral, and written traditions ranging from ancient rock art to modern topographic maps. Participants will learn and practice moving fluidly through the natural and cultural histories of diverse lands while establishing a stronger sense of voice. This workshop aims to uncover hidden biases and assumptions of reality and expand awareness about the various ways diverse humans have expressed their interactions with the natural world.

Speaker: Alicia Daniel, Executive Director of Vermont Master Naturalist

Join Alicia Daniel, University of Vermont Field Naturalist, to explore the natural beauty of Northern Vermont as we walk through a blaze of fall foliage. We will “read” the layers of the landscape of Jay Peak and hear stories of its natural and cultural history, including geology, soils, hydrology, plants and animals. You will leave this workshop ready to see your own home in new ways.

Speaker: Tom Stienstra

Join Emmy-award winner Tom Stienstra to learn top-pro narrative writing secrets that can be applied for success in any writing application, including features, columns, novels, and scripts for television or radio. Turn envisioned projects into top-shelf polished works. Course designed as a life-changing moment in a career.

Speaker: Aaron Reed

National Outdoor Book Award winner Aaron Reed, author of Fly Fishing Austin & Central Texas, draws on his experience as a writer and developmental editor to lead participants through the challenges (and solutions!) in writing a truly useful guidebook. Attendees will learn how to scope a project, which details matter (and why), how to write for durability (i.e., will the guide still be useful in three years?), about keys and icons to guide the reader, and what editors are looking for in a proposal. As a bonus, Aaron will provide feedback on unpublished proposals by attendees.

Speaker: Tamara Dean

This class, which includes a period of outdoor exploration, prompts writers to generate compelling narrative nonfiction or fiction rooted in place. Participants will leave with an understanding of several successful approaches to nature writing, the beginning of a draft, and a roadmap for developing a work in progress.


OWAA’s theme for the conference and, indeed, all 2021 content (webinars, etc.) is ‘Seeking Stability.’


Register Now!

NOTE: To get the member rate, active members (and Supporting Groups) must log into the Members Area of the website first, then click the link below so that our system can recognize their membership and allow them to register at the member rate. 

Hotel Reservations

To make your hotel reservation at Jay Peak Resort, call their Central Reservations Office toll free (1-800-451-4449). Attendees are required to inform the reservation agent of the Group Code (769417) and confirm the Group Name (Outdoor Writers Association of America) to activate the discounted rate. You will be required to provide a 50% non-refundable deposit at the time of reservation and charges will be applied to the credit card according to the Reservation Cancellation Policy below. The Remaining 50% is due at the time of check-in. 

Call-In Reservation Cancelation Policy:

  • More than 14 days prior to the arrival date $50 cancelation charge
  • Within 14 days of the arrival date forfeit the 50% deposit
  • Within 24 hours of the arrival date 100% of room revenue is due

Attendee Room Rates

Note that rates are available for conference attendees up to five days before and five days after the conference. So make a plan to come early and/or stay late! SEE: Resort Map

  • Stateside Hotel – King / Queen Queen $75.00 (this hotel is a bit farther from the conference center)
  • Hotel Jay – Standard King Room $85.00
  • Hotel Jay or Tram Haus Lodge – Studio Room $107.10
  • Hotel Jay or Tram Haus Lodge – 1 Bedroom Suite $121.50
  • Hotel Jay or Tram Haus Lodge – 2 Bedroom Suite $151.20

An additional taxable resort fee of $26.00 will be charged for each room/night and overall room charge is subject to 9% VT Rooms Tax.

Jay Peak Resort Will Provide:

  • Complimentary parking
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi resort wide
  • Complimentary airport shuttles for all OWAA attendees, including registered spouses/partners. Additional guests who are not actually registered will qualify for the $50 discounted rate
  • Complimentary on-site shuttle transportation
Grounds of Jay Peak, Vermont
A curving stretch of road in Vermont, with verdant trees on either side and overcast skies

Getting There

Jay Peak Resort is located in Jay, Vermont in the Northeast Kingdom. It is easily accessible via major highways plus air travel from the Northeast Kingdom International Airport, Burlington, Vermont or Montreal, Quebec (once travel across the border resumes – it is currently not allowed).

Physical address:

830 Jay Peak Road
Jay, VT 05859
(If you’re using GPS, we’ve heard 1144 Access Road, Jay, VT 05859 is ideal.)

Ground Transport:

Jay Peak is providing a shuttle from Burlington International Airport to Jay Peak Resort for all registered attendees (including spouses/partners that are actually registered as such). They are working on an online form for attendees to fill out with their arrival and departure times so that they can schedule pick ups at Burlington International (and returns) in the efficient manner for all.

The shuttle buses will depart from Burlington International Airport (BTV) on October 3, starting at 9:00 A.M and run until 11:00 P.M., in two hour intervals (9 am, 11am, 1pm, 3pm, 5pm, 7pm, 9pm, 11pm) or as needed, based upon the information provided by the guests. Departures will leave Jay Peak on the same schedule on October 6th and 7th.

Driving to Jay Peak:

On your phone, Google maps works best. Use 830 Jay Peak Rd, Jay, Vermont 05859 as your Google Maps destination. If you’re using GPS, we’ve heard 1144 Access Road, Jay, VT 05859 is ideal, but have yet to try it ourselves. Below are estimated drive times and distances to give you an idea of how close Jay Peak Resort is to major metro centers and various major airports.

  • Albany, NY – 4.5 hours, 220 miles
  • Boston, MA – 3.5 hours, 230 miles
  • Burlington, VT – 1.5 hours, 70 miles
  • Manchester, NH – 3 hours, 180 miles
  • Montreal, QC – 1.5 hours , 137km/85 miles
  • Toronto, ON – 7 hours, 652 km/405 miles
  • Quebec City, QC – 3 hours, 307 km/191 miles
  • Ottawa, ON – 3.5 hours, 370 km/230 miles
  • Hartford, CT – 4 hours, 250 miles
  • New York City, NY – 6.5 hours, 371 miles

Draft Schedule

Our content for the 2021 conference is still very much in development (please see the call for speakers and workshop leaders above) but we wanted to start to give you an idea of what to expect. Thus we offer this draft schedule to provide you with a sense of the various professional development sessions, networking events and various opportunities to GET OUTSIDE during the event. This schedule is very much a draft and it absolutely will change. We’ll continue to update it as we know more and add speaker information as we secure keynotes, panelists, workshop leaders and others. Please do stay tuned for more information – including information on pre- and post-tours!

3p-8pBoard Meeting hike and dinner (no meeting as they’ve already met virtually, in June)
1p-8pRegistration open
5p-6pSpouse Welcome & (separately) First Timer’s gathering 
8p-11pPresident’s Hospitality Suite
Time Topic
8a-930a Welcome Breakfast
830a-845a Announcements
845a-930a Keynote: TBA
10a-1130a Session 4a:
10a-1130a Session 4b:
10a-12p Spouse Trip 4: Lake Cruise
12p-1p Lunch
1215p-1230p Announcements
1230p-1p Lunch Sponsor Speaker
130p-430p Session 4c: PM Workshops
5p-6p Membership Meeting
630p-8p Welcome Dinner
7p-715p Announcements
715p-730p Speaker: TBA
730-815p OWAA inaugural film festival
830p-11p Hospitality Suites
Time Topic
630a-730a Roll n Run/Walk
830a-930a Breakfast/keynote
900a-915a Announcements
930a-1230p Session 5a: AM Workshops
930a-1230p Spouse Trip 5: Opera House
1p-2p Lunch
115p-130p Announcements
130p-2p Lunch Sponsor Speaker
230p-330p Session 5b:
230p-330p Session 5c:  Turning Paper to Video
4p-530p Meet the Editors
6p-630p Storytelling before awards dinner
630p-715p EIC Awards Dinner
7p-715p Announcements
730p-830p EIC Awards on Screen
830-930p Past President’s Mtg
830p-11p Hospitality Suites
930a-1030aBoard Meeting
930a-11aSession 6a: Guns in America
930a-11aSession 6b: Photo Scavenger Critique
1230p-1pLunch Sponsor Speaker
130p-430pBreakout Day at Gun Range
130p-430pBreakout Day at Jay Peak
430p-530pSupporting Group Business Meeting
6p-8pHonorary Awards Banquet
7p-8pAward Ceremony/Speeches
8p-9pCircle of Chiefs Mtg
830p-11pLast Chance Luau


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