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About OWAA

Our mission:

The mission of Outdoor Writers Association of America® is to improve the professional skills of our members, set the highest ethical and communications standards, encourage public enjoyment and conservation of natural resources, and be mentors for the next generation of professional outdoor communicators.

What we’re about:


Photo by OWAA Intern Katy Spence

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

  • writers
  • editors
  • book authors
  • broadcasters
  • film and video producers
  • photographers
  • fine artists
  • lecturers/speakers
  • publishers
  • bloggers and new media communicators (e.g. podcasters, webcasters)
  • 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.


Photo by OWAA Intern Katy Spence

The association is dedicated to helping its members increase profitability and grow intellectually — both professionally and personally — by providing a full-range of member services, including, but not limited to:

  • annual educational conferences
  • workshops and seminars
  • editorial needs and job postings
  • scholarships for continuing education
  • networking with other communicators and outdoor industry professionals
  • setting professional standards
  • promoting and rewarding excellence

Educational and organizational information are provided to the OWAA membership through its award-winning bimonthly publication, Outdoors Unlimited®, its membership directory, various other organization-related educational brochures and manuals, and social media.

The OWAA annual conference, which is held at a different location within the United States each year, enables association members to network, share and gather ideas and enjoy a level of camaraderie found in few other organizations.

About the organization:


Photo by OWAA Member Paul Queneau

OWAA is headquartered in Missoula, Montana.

The executive director and headquarters staff handle the day-to-day operations of the association, including the production of the magazine and other publications. OWAA is governed by the organization’s officers and a board of directors. The members of the board are elected annually by the active membership, while officers are elected annually by the board.

Dozens of volunteer committees, manned by OWAA members, also provide a foundation for OWAA’s prosperity and growth.


Code of Ethics:

The purpose of OWAA’s Code of ethics is to establish principles and standards that promote and maintain high levels of personal and professional conduct on the part of all members. We are expected to conduct professional business and personal relationships with integrity and with a sense of propriety that benefits ourselves, our association and our profession. Go to OWAA’s code of ethics.

Declaration of Principles:

We who inform, through the various media at our disposal, on the out-of-doors and its enjoyment, are known as the Outdoor Writers Association of America®.

Through this association, we strive to improve ourselves in the art and media of our craft and to increase our knowledge and understanding of the many facets of our subject.

We pledge our support to the conservation of natural resources, and to the best precepts for the recreational use of these resources.

Above all, we pledge ourselves to maintain the highest ethical standards in the exercise of our craft.

OWAA Creed:

I believe in the profession of outdoor reporting as a public trust to report that which is true. Accuracy, fairness and clarity in words and photographs are a fundamental part of my profession.

I will present to my audience only that which I can present ethically. My financial return will not influence my judgment, nor will I evade my personal responsibility to search for facts. I believe in honest representation and conscientious performance and I will not stoop to plagiarism.

I believe the trust that is imposed on me is subject to justification in my own heart and mind, and that the true test of my work is the measure of its public service.

Position on Hunting:

An organization of professional communicators, the Outdoor Writers Association of America® (OWAA) avoids advocacy within issues not related to journalism. Our goal is to improve the communication and managerial skills of members, set high standards for communicating outdoor subjects, promote outdoor communications in all media, and encourage appropriate natural resource use and conservation. OWAA recognizes legal hunting as an appropriate use of natural resources. Many OWAA members cover and promote hunting.

OWAA Gift Acceptance Policies and Guidelines:

OWAA encourages the solicitation and acceptance of gifts to OWAA that are consistent with the purposes of OWAA. The association’s endowment trustees and board of directors approved guidelines for certain types of gifts that generally will be accepted by the organization.

Detailed guidelines:

OWAA is a nonprofit organization organized under the laws of the State of Maryland, with headquarters in Missoula, Montana, and qualifies as a tax-exempt public charity under section 501 (c) (3) of the United States Internal Revenue Code. OWAA encourages the solicitation and acceptance of gifts to OWAA that are consistent with the purposes of OWAA. Its bylaws state that OWAA’s purposes are “to improve the communication and managerial skills of its members, set high standards for communicating outdoor subjects, promote outdoor communications in all media and encourage appropriate natural resource use and conservation.” The following policies and guidelines govern acceptance of gifts made to OWAA, either as permanent (endowment) funds or to support the operating fund of OWAA. OWAA appreciates the generosity of members and others, but is not obligated to accept gifts.

OWAA’s financial matters are handled in two ways. Ongoing operations and the annual budget, which includes the headquarters building, are supervised by the Executive Director, the Treasurer and Finance Committee, and the Board of Directors. Endowment or permanent funds are accepted, managed, and disbursed by the Endowment Trust, which has five trustees and is created by the OWAA bylaws. Gifts to support ongoing operations as well as additions to the Endowment Trust are welcome as provided in these guidelines.

By this document both the Endowment Trustees and the OWAA Board of Directors have provided guidelines for certain types of gifts that generally will be accepted. The guidelines identify types of gifts that generally require review before acceptance. Ultimate decisions regarding acceptance of gifts in each case reside either with the Endowment Trustees or with the Board of Directors. In addition to the general funds contained in the Endowment Trust, it contains the Bodie McDowell Scholarship Fund and the John Madson Fellowship Fund. Regarding endowment gifts with restrictions, the bylaws provide: “The Endowment Trustees may establish other restricted funds in their discretion and may decline endowment gifts if the gifts are made upon any condition that the Endowment Trustees determine is inconsistent with the purposes and goals of OWAA. If the Trustees should be unsure whether a gift should be accepted, they may submit the question to the OWAA Board. Any accepted gifts that are made subject to conditions shall be held subject to such conditions.”

As with other journalists’ organizations, OWAA must avoid overly close relationships or financial dependence on corporations, government agencies, or advocacy groups. Accordingly, OWAA, both through its Board of Directors and through its Endowment Trustees, reserves the right to decline or return any donation that may conflict with these principles or otherwise damage the integrity of the organization. Gifts over $5,000 will only be accepted from individuals, foundations, and educational institutions and will automatically go into an escrow account pending approval of the Board of Directors and/or Endowment Trustees. All gifts over $5,000 will be “transparent” with the identity of each donor of such amounts revealed to either the Board of Directors or Endowment Trustees before acceptance, depending on whether the gift is to go into the Endowment Trust or support current operations. In the event either the Board of Directors or the Endowment Trustees disapproves the gift, it will be withdrawn from the escrow account and returned.

No solicitation or acceptance of donations to OWAA shall be made except in accordance with these policies and guidelines. No person is authorized to give guidance on behalf of OWAA about the deductibility of gifts other than to inform donors that OWAA is a tax-exempt public charity under Internal Revenue Code section 501 (c) (3), gifts to which may be tax deductible under United States tax laws.

Advice of legal counsel on behalf of OWAA will be sought prior to acceptance for all gifts of the following: closely held stock or stock subject to buy-sell agreements; any gift designating OWAA or the Endowment Trust as a trustee; all gifts involving contracts or imposition of an obligation; gifts raising conflict of interest issues or other matters that may jeopardize OWAA’s status with the IRS; gifts of real estate. All donors are encouraged to seek legal or tax planning advice before making gifts. Donors will be responsible for their own legal fees and costs associated with any gift, including but not limited to the cost of any appraisal that may be required for tax or other purposes.

Subject to the provisions of this document, the following types of gifts may be made to OWAA.

1. Cash: Cash is acceptable in any form. Checks shall be made payable to OWAA and shall be delivered to OWAA’s headquarters.

2. Tangible Personal Property: The Executive Director may accept tangible personal property that can be used by OWAA or related to its purpose, without approval from the Board or Endowment Trustees, so long as the gift is consistent with these Policies and Guidelines. All gifts of tangible personal property shall be examined in light of the following criteria:

  • Can the property be used to fulfill the mission of OWAA?
  • Is the property marketable?
  • Are there any undue restrictions on the use, display, or sale of the property?
  • Are there any carrying costs for the property?
  • Is the property safe?

3. Securities: OWAA can accept both publicly traded securities and closely held securities, but no agreement will be made with the donor prior to or subsequent to the gift regarding its disposition. OWAA will make all decisions regarding the sale or retention of securities.

Publicly Traded Securities: Marketable securities may be transferred to an account maintained at one or more brokerage firms or delivered physically with the transferor’s signature or stock power attached. As a general rule, all marketable securities shall be sold upon receipt unless otherwise directed by the Executive Director, the Treasurer, or the Endowment Trustees. In some cases marketable securities may be restricted by applicable securities laws, restrictions, encumbrances, or lack of a market. In such instances the final determination on the acceptance of the restricted securities shall be made by the Board of Directors or the Endowment Trustees.

Closely Held Securities: Closely held securities, which include not only debt and equity positions in non-publicly traded companies but also interests in LLPs and LLCs or other ownership forms, can be accepted subject to the approval of the Board of Directors or the Endowment Trustees. Gifts must be reviewed prior to acceptance to determine that:

  • there are no restrictions on the security that would prevent OWAA from ultimately converting those assets to cash;
  • the security is marketable; and
  • the security will not generate any undesirable tax consequences for OWAA.

If potential problems arise on initial review of the security, further review and recommendation by an outside professional may be sought before making a final decision on acceptance of the gift. The final determination on the acceptance of closely held securities shall be made by the Endowment Trustees or the Board of Directors. Every effort will be made to sell non-marketable securities as quickly as possible.

4. Real Estate: Gifts of real estate may include developed property, undeveloped property, or gifts subject to a life estate. Prior to acceptance of real estate, OWAA shall require an initial environmental review of the property. In the event that the initial inspection reveals a potential problem, OWAA shall retain a qualified inspection firm to conduct an environmental audit. The cost of the environmental audit shall generally be an expense of the donor. Where appropriate, a title binder shall be obtained by OWAA prior to the acceptance of the real property gift. The cost of this title binder shall generally be an expense of the donor.

Considerations for acceptance of real estate shall include:

  • How does the property support the mission/purposes of OWAA?
  • Is the property marketable?
  • Are there carrying costs, which may include insurance, property taxes, mortgages, or notes, etc., associated with the property?
  • Can OWAA adequately care for the property?

5. Remainder Interests In Property: OWAA may accept a remainder interest in a personal residence, farm, or vacation home with a retained life estate subject to the provisions of paragraph 4 above. The owner of the life estate may continue to occupy the real property for the duration of the stated life. At the death of the owner of the life estate, OWAA may use the property or reduce it to cash. Where OWAA receives a gift of a remainder interest, expenses for maintenance, real estate taxes, and any property indebtedness must be paid by the donor or life estate owner.

6. Life Insurance: OWAA may accept gifts of life insurance, which may be accomplished in one of several ways.

a. The donor may purchase a policy naming OWAA the owner and sole beneficiary, then contribute annually to OWAA and receive a charitable deduction for each premium due. OWAA would use the contributions to pay the annual premiums on the policy.

b. The donor may make a gift of a paid-up policy, naming OWAA the owner and sole beneficiary, receiving a charitable deduction equal to the replacement value of the policy or net premiums paid if less than replacement value.

c. The donor may contribute a partially paid-up policy naming OWAA the owner and sole beneficiary, receiving an income tax deduction for the cash value of the policy (or net premiums paid if less than cash value) and for any premiums that the donor continues to pay.

d. The donor may choose to give the proceeds of a life insurance policy, naming OWAA as beneficiary.

Donors and supporters of OWAA shall be encouraged to name it as beneficiary or contingent beneficiary of their life insurance policies. Such designations shall not be recorded as gifts to OWAA until such time as the gift is irrevocable.

7. Charitable Gift Annuities: OWAA may in some circumstances agree to offer charitable gift annuities if approved in advance, as long as only liquid assets are contributed, annuity payments are not required more often than quarterly, the donor or donors are over age 65. All amounts remaining after the donor’s death shall go into the Endowment Trust.

8. Charitable Remainder Trusts: OWAA may accept designation as remainder beneficiary of a charitable remainder trust with the approval of the Board of Directors or the Endowment Trustees. OWAA will not accept appointment as trustee of a charitable remainder trust.

9. Charitable Lead Trusts: OWAA may accept a designation as income beneficiary of a charitable lead trust. The Board of Directors or the Endowment Trustees will not accept an appointment as Trustee of a charitable lead trust.

10. Retirement Plan Beneficiary Designations: Donors and supporters of OWAA are encouraged to name OWAA as beneficiary of their retirement plans. Such designations shall not be recorded by OWAA as gifts until the gift is irrevocable. If the gift is irrevocable but is not due until a future date, the present value of the gift may be recorded at the time the gift becomes irrevocable.

11. Bequests: Donors and supporters of OWAA are encouraged to make bequests to OWAA under their wills and trusts. Such bequests shall not be recorded by OWAA as gifts until the gift is irrevocable. If the gift is irrevocable, but is not due until a future date, the present value of that gift may be recorded at the time the gift becomes irrevocable.

 These Policies and Guidelines were approved by the OWAA Board of Directors on June 19, 2007, and by the OWAA Endowment Trustees on June 29, 2007. They may not be altered except by action of both the Board of Directors and the Endowment Trustees. Questions may be directed to the OWAA Executive Director or Treasurer.


OWAA Prayer:

God give me stillness, give me time to stand

Unpressed by creeds and credits, undefiled

By dust of industry, and be a child

Reminded of my oneness with the land.

Let me stop running and be reconciled

To feel my feet send roots into the sand;

Let me put forth fresh blossoms from my hand.

Let me not lose my kinship with the wild.

And if I call this mine, remind me, God,

That it is only as my blood and bone

Are mine; not mine to waste, not mine to own,

But mine to be. I am the goldenrod,

The grain, the granite; I am stream and glen.

Remind me to preserve myself. Amen

– Margaret Menamin

Privacy Policy:

Welcome to the Internet site of Outdoor Writers Association of America® (OWAA).

OWAA wants you to understand what information we learn about you when you visit this site, what we do with that information, and how you can change the information we have.

When you visit this site, we recognize only your domain name and not your e-mail address. We will see your e-mail address only if you fill out a form or send us an e-mail message.

If you provide information about yourself by registering on a page, by filling out a survey, by participating in our chat rooms or otherwise by voluntarily telling us about yourself or your activities, we will collect that information for our own use to improve our products and services and the content of this site.

We may also use it to send you information. If you do not want to receive e-mails from us, please let us know by sending an e-mail message to our headquarters office telling us that you do not want to receive e-mail from our organization.

From time to time, we may also share your information for marketing and promotional purposes with reputable companies that we have pre-screened and whose products we think you may find interesting. If you do not wish to have your information shared with other companies, please send us an e-mail or letter with your exact name and address and your request to have your name placed on our “Do not share” list.

COOKIES: When you visit this site, we may leave a “cookie” in the memory of your Web browser. Cookies are very small files that store information about your visit to and use of this site. Most major commercial Internet sites use them and they make your Internet-surfing more useful and less time-consuming for you because they store information that is reusable each time you visit this site, such as passwords and your preferences including information you have chosen to share with us. Cookies cannot access and read the files on your hard drive and cannot be used as a virus. They do allow us to provide information and products that are more meaningful to you without asking you the same questions every time you visit us. We hope you will want the better service that cookies allow, but if you prefer, you can set your browser to refuse cookies. However, if you do that, some parts of this site and other sites may not work as well.

OWAA reserves the right to change or update this policy at any time by posting a notice to that effect on this site.

LEGAL NOTICE: Please see OWAA Legal Notice for more information.

About OWAA Photos

Photos by OWAA Members (from L to R): Colleen Miniuk-Sperry, Paul Queneau, Colleen Miniuk-Sperry

© Outdoor Writers Association of America