For more than 90 years, OWAA has helped writers, photographers, bloggers and other outdoor storytellers hone their craft. With a membership of more than 600 outdoor media (and 100 supporting brands, destinations and other organizations), OWAA works to improve the professional skills and opportunities of our members and mentor the next generation of outdoor media. A key component of achieving these goals is our annual conference which educates, inspires, shares best practices and establishes meaningful B2B connections.

OWAA’s annual conferences have been held (with some exceptions) since 1928. They bring together hundreds of North American outdoor storytellers, including freelancers, editors, photographers, bloggers and others, as well as destinations, gear brands, and industry partners

2023 Conference – Gulf Shores, Alabama

The 2023 OWAA Annual Conference will be held in Gulf Shores, Alabama at The Lodge at Gulf State Park, Sept. 9-11, 2023.

It’s all about engagement. It’s all about community. It’s all about connections. And, in the end, it’s all about furthering your professional skills and your business. Join us for OWAA’s annual conference to connect, mingle and learn from 200 outdoor storytellers and the brands that support their work. Network with other professionals, hone your communications skills, find a mentor/mentee, find more and better ways to sell your work or promote your brand. 

2022 Conference – Casper, Wyoming

Some of America’s best in outdoor communication attended seminars on writing, photography, broadcasting, book publishing, technology and more. National spokespeople and local experts provided the facts and the quotes needed by media during newsmaker sessions, panels and presentations. Breakout Day provided opportunities for hands-on learning while attending media took advantage of pre- and post-conference trips to experience world-classing fishing or mountain biking, hiking, paddling and more. Attendees used these trips to generate story material and build stock photo files. They also explored the downtown, craft breweries and local restaurants, nature centers and walking and biking trails to experience the local flavor of Casper.

175 total attendees:

  • 84 Individual media members
  • 29 Not-Yet Members (includes several more media)
  • 34 Supporting Groups
  • 12 Guests
  • 10 Keynote speakers 
  • 6 staff

2021 Conference – Jay Peak Resort, Vermont

OWAA’s 2021 conference at Jay Peak Resort in lovely northern Vermont was about ‘Seeking Stability.’ In the end, OWAA was overjoyed to welcome more than 150 attendees, including:

  • 60 Individual Members (media)
  • 17 Not-yet-members (media)
  • 17 Spouses/Guests
  • 14 Speakers (many of whom were media)
  • 14 Supporting Groups
  • 13 Workshop leaders (many of whom were media)
  • 12 Exhibitors

2020 Conference – Virtual

After monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic situation for several weeks, and careful discussion and consideration of the short-term and long-term implications, the OWAA board decided that the best course of action was to postpone our traditional conference to 2021 and have a virtual event in 2020 (the conference took place June 26-27). Uncertainty over the future of travel in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak and its impact led us to conclude that proceeding with the conference would not be responsible.

Our annual conference is the highlight of the OWAA year. It is always our goal to provide a valuable conference experience for our members. We explored every possible option available, and the decision to cancel was not taken lightly. However, the health and well-being of our membership is, and always will be, our number one priority.

OWAA’s 2020 virtual conference offered members and non-members alike an easily accessible chance to improve their skills, collect story ideas and reconnect with familiar faces – all within the comfort and safety of their own homes. 

Future Conferences

OWAA staff and volunteers are diving into the proposals to host future years. If you know of an outdoor destination that would be interested in hosting the OWAA’s members in the future please direct them to our RFP page

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