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BY KRIS MILLGATE
I hear ocean. I smell salt, but I’m camped out in a conference room and what I see around the table has most of my attention. Most of it. Not counting the glances I make toward the tall, glass doors opening to the salty water and balmy weather.
I’m at OWAA’s winter board meeting, hosted by Lee County Visitor and Convention Bureau. The lure of a sunny spot in January and stories I can sell to multiple outlets when I return home to Idaho made it worth the time and cost of the trip, but so did a chance to gather with some of the best outdoor communicators in the business, to talk about the nation’s oldest and largest professional organization for our field.
When OWAA member Matt Miller nudged me toward membership in 2009, I didn’t know it would lead to a seat on the board, but here I sit watching the board celebrate and struggle. We celebrate membership recruitment. We struggle with the budget.
OWAA’s biggest asset is a chance to build relationships and learn from the best of the best. You can build these relationships by attending OWAA’s annual conference. You can foster these relationships by reaching out via email or phone calls. But I’ve learned the best way to really get to know some of the best outdoor writers, photographers, filmmakers and media relations professions is to get involved.
I gave up the newsroom grind when I went freelance to start my own production company, Tight Line Media, in 2006. Serving on the board helps me build a virtual newsroom full of all-star outdoor communicators.
Look at our board. It is full of names you’ll see presenting at conference, writing craft improvement articles and winning awards.
And they’ve become my virtual newsroom.
President Lisa Ballard always has a thoughtful comment about any topic. Thoughtful is insightful.
First Vice President Brett Prettyman and I talk often. He’s the best on my bad days. If our virtual newsroom had a water cooler, I’d meet him there every day.
Second Vice President Phil Bloomand OWAA legal counsel Bill Powellare walking vaults of valuable information and historical OWAA knowledge. Those two know it all in their own humble, quiet way.
Treasurer Ty Stockton boldly takes on finances in a world full of writers. I envy his mathematical adaptations.
Supporter liaison Katie McKaliphas a strategic skillset that turns politics into pudding. I’m always interested in pudding so I seek her perspective.
Board member Paul Vang plays the quiet game, but he’s listening and he eagerly lays his two cents on the table when the time is right. He reminds me of the power of observation.
Tom Keer carries around a brilliant business mind and he doles out details worth listening to at any time.
Vicki Mountz, Sam Caldwell and Brent Frazee use creative tactics to get things done. Creative is good. I respect that. They remind me to think about problems in new ways.
Mike Zlotnicki is alert. He’s new to the board and he knows it. He’s learning the trade before he throws any tricks, but I know he has something up his sleeve and I can’t wait to see what it is and what I’ll learn from working with him.
Colleen Miniuk-Sperry runs as crazy as I do, only she loves photo where I love video. Thanks to her, my still camera is no longer in auto-mode.
Paul Queneau doesn’t know it, but he’s my IT staff. I’m always hitting him up for techie insight.
Paul Smith is a journalist I contact often when I’m working on West Coast stories that need Midwest perspective. He also taught me a face flash trick for photos during our trip to Florida. Now I think of him every time I use it.
Through my service, I also know OWAA staff better. Executive Director Tom Sadler is just as intense about promoting OWAA as I am about turning a solid story.
Membership and Conference Services director Jessica Seitz is over-the-top organized and even I can learn something from her tactics — which is saying something coming from me, an organized obsessive freak.
Outdoors Unlimited editor Kelsey Dayton is relentless when it comes to collecting content for our publication. Relentless is my middle name.
These people are my newsroom and my friends. Sure, we serve an organization together, but the exchange of ideas and skills impacts me far beyond what goes on around that boardroom table. In the following pages you’ll read about the slate of candidates offering to serve on our board for the next three years. Read about their visions for OWAA and then think of your own, for the organization and also your career. Then get involved.
Offer to serve on a committee, run for the board, or agree to become an officer.
I won’t lie, it takes work, but the rewards you reap from serving OWAA last long beyond your term. So do the friendships. ♦
— Kris Millgate is an outdoor journalist based in Idaho Falls, Idaho. She produces print and video content for media outlets nationwide. She also owns Tight Line Media, delivering exceptional productions from first word to final edit. www.tightlinemedia.com