Consider all you can do for OWAA

By Phil Bloom, OWAA President

Hardly a time goes by in communications with OWAA Executive Director Kevin Rhoades that doesn’t end the same way. Whether it’s a phone call, an e-mail or a letter, he closes by saying, “Thanks for all you do for OWAA.”

I’m pretty certain he says the same to a lot of others in our group, not just me.

When you think about it, it’s an appropriate tip of the cap to anyone who contributes to the success of OWAA, which is after all a volunteer organization.

Nobody is forced to belong to OWAA, and nobody who belongs to OWAA is forced to lift a finger on behalf of the association after having paid the price of admission.

Yet every year, countless members step up and contribute more to OWAA than their annual dues payment.

They do so through leading one of OWAA’s four sections, offering articles for Outdoors Unlimited, assisting at conference as a workshop moderator, serving as elected officers or board directors, or by volunteering for committee work.

Most of it is thankless work, but it’s necessary. That’s the way it is with volunteer organizations, and OWAA has been blessed in that regard. To have survived and flourished for more than 80 years requires some level of individual sacrifice on the part of many.

Perhaps none of those volunteer efforts is more important than being part of a committee.

And OWAA certainly has committees. Lots of them.

Some are dictated by our bylaws as detailed in Article 9, sections 1 through 3.

It begins with an executive committee comprised of OWAA officers – president, vice presidents, secretary and treasurer.

A few exceptions designate specific members, but the rest of these standing committees are filled by anyone who is a member – Board Nominating, Conference Program, Craft Improvement, Development, Education, Ethics, Finance, National Affairs and Environment, Norm Strung Youth Writing, Strategic Planning, and Technology.

Some of the exceptions are:

♦ Two committees with bylaws-designated chairs – Finance (treasurer) and Conference (second vice president).

♦ Awards Committee, which is chaired by the immediate past president, and includes recipients of OWAA’s most coveted honors – J. Hammond Brown Memorial Award, Circle of Chiefs Award, Excellence in Craft Award and the like.

♦ Officer Nominating Committee, which is composed of directors in their second year on the board.

♦ Sections Committee, which consists of leaders of the Newspaper, Photography, Radio and TV/Video sections.

♦ Past Presidents Committee, which is where I will soon be going to, depending on your perspective, dispense sage advice or join other PPs who were put to pasture.

The president also has the option to form ad hoc committees. Although this is designed to address specific topics that may not fit into bylaws-mandated committees, some ad hocs have taken on “standing” status, such as Member Recruitment, Host (formerly Mentor), or the Spouse/Partner/Guest Committee.

Most committees have a half dozen members, but some have twice as many. Craft Improvement, for instance, has 20 this year. Some committees take on significant issues and perform Herculean work, such as this year’s Development Committee that was co-chaired by Glen Sapir and Tom Wharton. Others have simpler responsibilities.

While it might seem intimidating, no committee requires the amount of time or effort that equates to a full-time job. Even the busiest committees I’ve been part of over the years never demanded more than a couple of hours here or there.

As is the case with most organizations, OWAA has its reliable contributors, those who year in and year out share their time and talent for the betterment of the association.

It is important for all members to consider pitching in, not only for the sake of OWAA but also for their own benefit. It’s one thing to pay your dues and believe that’s enough, but it’s quite another to make the price of entry into this wonderful organization pay dividends in the relationships you can foster with others.

I couldn’t tell you the first committee I worked on, nor could I tell you every committee I’ve been part of over the years. It’s enough to say that most committee work was a rewarding experience, in part because there’s a degree of self-satisfaction that comes from contributing to a cause, but also because it opened doors as a result of the networking that took place.

At this time last year, I was putting the pieces together for the 2008-09 OWAA committees by recruiting volunteers and shaping their work assignments.

As we head down the home stretch, allow me to pause for a moment and express my gratitude to everyone who volunteered to serve on one of those committees this year. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

The duty of forming committees for 2009-10 now falls to First Vice President John Beath. If he has not begun the task, he soon will, and like me and no doubt other former presidents, John will find it a challenging endeavor.

You can make it easier, though, by simply lending a hand.

So do OWAA a favor. No, do yourself a favor and contact John or OWAA headquarters and offer to help with a committee in the coming year. ◊


Phil Bloom, of Indiana, began his term as OWAA’s president in June 2008.


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