About OWAA



The Outdoor Writers Association of America:
Improves the professional skills of our members,
Sets the highest ethical and communications standards,
Encourages public enjoyment and conservation of natural resources, and Mentors the next generation of professional outdoor communicators.

A veteran photographer offers suggestions on iPhone photography at an OWAA conference. Photo by Chez Chesak


An international, nonprofit organization, OWAA represents a diverse group of professional communicators dedicated to sharing the outdoor experience. Members of OWAA are experienced outdoor people, the nation’s best outdoor:

  • Writers
  • Editors
  • Authors
  • Digital content creators
  • Broadcasters and podcasters
  • Film and video producers
  • Photographers
  • Artists
  • Lecturers/speakers
  • Publishers
  • Communications and PR professionals

We aim to offer world-class resources, support, and inspiration for our members as they inform the public about outdoor activities, issues and the responsible use of our natural resources. Through OWAA membership and adherence to its creed and code of ethics, members are commissioned to provide honest, thorough, informed, responsible and unbiased outdoor coverage.

The association is dedicated to helping members increase profitability and grow intellectually — both professionally and personally — by providing a full-range of member services, including:

  • The award-winning bimonthly publication, Outdoors Unlimited
  • OWAA’s annual conference
  • Workshops, seminars, and events
  • Editorial needs and job postings
  • Scholarships for continuing education
  • Networking with other communicators and outdoor industry professionals
  • Setting professional standards
  • Promoting and rewarding excellence
A photography workshop at an OWAA conference. Photo by Chez Chesak

Educational and organizational information is provided to the OWAA membership through its membership directory, various other organization-related educational brochures and manuals, and social media.


OWAA members during their conference in Snowmass, Colorado in 1976.

OWAA was the brainchild of eight writers attending the lzaak Walton League’s 1927 convention in Chicago.  They were:

  • Morris Ackerman
  • Peter P. Carney
  • Mrs. Hal Kane Clements
  • ‘El Comancho’ (Walter Shelley Phillips grew up in Nebraska. There  Sioux chief High Horse who gave him the nickname “Comanche” which he later changed to “El Comancho” as his byline.)
  • Cal Johnson
  • Jack Miner
  • Buell A. Patterson
  • Edward G. Taylor

The organization was subsequently was incorporated as a nonprofit educational and professional organization. From the outset, OWAA had four primary objectives:

  1. Acquaintanceship and communication between writers in the outdoor field, with exchange of ideas, experiences and information
  2. Promotional and educational work to expand outdoor coverage in the nation’s media
  3. Focusing public attention on the field of conservation
  4. Craft improvement of its individual members

Of the 19 original members (the six founders and some friends), all were basically “writers” in a strict sense of the word — textual writers for newspapers and magazines and book publishers. Radio was in its infancy, television was unborn and photographers still used flash powder. Major emphases were on fishing, hunting and protection of the resources that made those activities possible.

Changes in the succeeding years have been both evolutionary and revolutionary. No longer is the printed word the dominant factor. Illustrative art and photography, radio, video, the lecturer’s platform and an array of digital media are represented in today’s OWAA membership.

And subject matter coverage broadened as developments brought more people and more activities into the scene. Concern over the environment has projected outdoor media into the forefront as the ones best qualified to foster public awareness of the need for the wise use of the outdoors. Conservation, hunting, fishing, travel and camping remain, along with their allied skills and studies dealing with the enjoyment and conservation of the resources making up the vast outdoors. Among OWAA’s members are specialists in most areas; for example, biking, recreational vehicles, hiking, boating, archery, camping, travel, wildlife and fisheries, nature studies, backpacking, paddling and forestry.

Governing documents and financial and tax information are available upon request.

Trio of images showing OWAA members climbing, hiking, and boating
Photos by OWAA Members (L to R): Colleen Miniuk, Paul Queneau, Colleen Miniuk
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