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Get involved, get more from OWAA

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BY LISA BALLARD
Thank you members of OWAA for trusting me with the helm of our organization. As Mark Freeman passes the gavel to me, I want to thank him most sincerely for his leadership over the last year. I hope I can preside with as much humor and wisdom.
Fortunately, Mark is not disappearing. He will chair three committees this year, Awards, the Past President’s Council and the new ad hoc Public Lands Access Committee. He has no choice about the first two. Per OWAA’s bylaws, the outgoing president chairs them, but the third is his baby, for which we should be grateful. Mark has worked tirelessly over the last year watch-dogging and recommending critical language changes to legislative proposals so that you and I can work on public lands without paying a fee or needing a permit. And there’s still more to do.
Mark is but one example of an OWAA member swamped with deadlines, family commitments and other responsibilities, but who still carves out time to volunteer for OWAA. Matt Miller is another. This former board member is chairing the Board Nominating Committee and the Strategic Planning Committee on top of his fulltime job with The Nature Conservancy and a new baby. As Matt scrambled to fill his committees before the deadline which coincided with the annual conference in Knoxville, Tennessee, he wrote, “…You begin to realize how few people do so much for this organization!”
He’s so right. OWAA is lucky to have those few extraordinarily dedicated volunteers. It’s also lucky to have you! By simply paying your dues, attending conferences and convincing a colleague to join, you make OWAA a stronger, healthier organization that can provide more benefits to you. But this year, I’m asking for a little more.
Remember Uncle Sam’s famous quote, “I want you!”? This year, I’m Aunt Lisa, and I want you … to get more involved with OWAA! Please volunteer for a committee. OWAA has 19 of them plus a couple of ad hoc ones. Is there something you would like to change with the Excellence in Craft Awards? Join the Contests Committee. Want to contribute to Outdoors Unlimited to get more name recognition and familiarize others with your work? Volunteer for the Craft Improvement or the National Affairs and Environment committees. Got an educational background? Check out the Norm Strung Youth Writing and the Education committees. Are you good with money or fundraising? Raise your hand for the Development or the Finance committees. Are you frustrated with OWAA’s image or website? The Marketing Committee needs you. Do you know people who should be members but who aren’t? Consider the Membership Recruitment or the Member Services committees.
OWAA is the “voice of the outdoors”, and by extension, as members, we are too. The more active we are in the organization, the more credible our calling-cards with others in the outdoor industry and media world.
A complete list of OWAA’s committees is in the directory and on OWAA’s website, www.owaa.org. Let Jessica Seitz, OWAA’s Director of Membership and Conference Planning (jseitz@owaa.org), know where your interests lie. You will get a call. I promise. There are more than 100 committee positions to fill each year.
It puzzles me when outdoor communicators drop out of OWAA complaining they don’t get anything out of the organization. It might be because they don’t put anything into it. Last spring, my son graduated from high school. He got into five colleges and could not make up his mind as the deadline for acceptances approached. “Wherever you go, what you put into it, you’ll get out of it,” I advised him. The same is true for OWAA. The more you get involved, the more you’ll reap the benefits of being a member. ♦
— OWAA President Lisa Ballard, densmore1@aol.com
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