Meet OWAA Member Candace Dantes

Candace Dantes is a fourth-generation cowgirl and award-winning communicator based in the Georgia Black Belt Region. From rural America, she has collaborated with global brands like London’s M&C Saatchi and Black Beauty & Hair Magazine. Back home, she has served as an agriculture marketer, media consultant, and feature writer for brands like Wrangler, Justin Boots, Cotopaxi, and Visit Fort Worth. She previously reported and documented the stories of Black rural producers for the U.S. Department of Agriculture research grant Black Farmers’ Network. Currently, she is communications director of national not-for-profit organization Outdoor Afro. Her Southern ag story and outdoor lifestyle on Deep South farmland here:

What are your areas of Outdoor Communication? 

All of the above. Lol. Throughout my now 17-year media career, I’ve continued to straddle written, organizational, and visual communications. Leaning more into the print and digital journalism direction at the start of my storytelling journey. Of course, I’m a social media madwoman at this point

What drew you to the field? 

OK. So in all Southern honesty: I was a motormouth as a kid cowgirl. On the family farm to my audience of horses, ponies, and cows. At school. During gymnastics practice. Often, I heard “Candace! Stop talking before I call Mr. and Mrs. Morrow.” Instantly shuts up. I also loved a funny story and stayed all up in my great-grandma GG’s church and community gossip. The telephone tea was oh-so good. The art of automatically hooking her friends, our neighbors, and me into a moment was a priceless front porch superpower GG commanded. One that I try to recreate through my Outdoor Afro, agriculture, and cowhand culture story projects.

What enticed you to join OWAA? 

Our fearless Outdoor Afro Founder and CEO Rue Mapp served as a keynote speaker in Casper, Wyoming, for OWAA’s 2022 media conference. Brand new to Outdoor Afro at the time, I got the invitation to join Rue on behalf of our national not-for-profit organization. I geeked out. Rue’s high-powered presentation shared so eloquently Outdoor Afro’s origin story and her agricultural childhood. Her own nature narratives that inspired the community work we contribute to today. That intimate conversation among colleagues led to new friendships and content creation resources for our organization. OWAA felt like home away from home. Like the outdoor industry newsroom I’ve been searching for as a lifelong learner of effective storytelling.

What is your favorite outdoor activity and how did you get into it?

Horseback riding. My Daddy taught me Western riding on our now centennial farm. I must confess: I’m really diggin’ English nowadays to balance my wild side. I literally grew up in the saddle. My version of a car seat. Coming from a cattle operation and rodeo-loving lot, herding cows and amateur barrel racing were standard operating procedures around Edward Hill Farm (named after my great-grandfather) for work and play.

What are you currently working on?

 A few timely marketing and communications projects heading into 2024. We just rolled out our annual new leader recruitment campaign across and social @outdoorafro. We’re currently seeking nature innovators to serve as part of our 2024-2025 cohort. Outdoor Afro selects and trains volunteer leaders to guide their neighborhoods in nature activities safely and sustainably throughout each year. I’m also hot and heavy into production of our now OWAA award-winning annual report, which publishes January 2024. Much clicking and clacking, but our talented Marketing & Communications Department will get ’er done.

What have you gained from the organization? 

Outdoor Afro has helped me stretch and reconstruct personal definitions of what “outdoors” and “leadership” is, looks, and feels like. These terms are not one thing. Or for one particular community. We all have our versions of nature worth storytelling and sharing with the world. Documenting these fluid narratives help us all continue to learn about, grow with, and sustain our planet together.

What is one piece of advice you’d give to someone thinking of joining OWAA? 

Not only was I a loquacious kiddo, I asked my parents and the family elders a lot of questions. Aspiring outdoor communicators should take time to research what OWAA actually offers. Query staff and current members to understand its culture and opportunities to develop one’s media artistry. OWAA includes a stable of seasoned professionals who can help guide traditional and new media possibilities and pathways in nature.

Are you a professional outdoor communicator?

Learn more about OWAA today and see what membership is right for you!

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