Meet OWAA member Jayme Sun Thomas

Jayme Sun Thomas is a wildlife photographer and docent naturalist at Placerita Canyon State Park in Newhall, California. Thomas is working on a Bachelor’s Degree at Academy of Art University in Documentary Wildlife Photography.  She photographs wildlife to document and tell the story of wildlife that inhabit the forest at Placerita Canyon State Park and she works as a Docent Naturalist engaging with the public to help them understand the plant and animal life, and the Native American Indian and Walker Family history there, and why it is vital that everything in the forest be preserved.

What drew you to the field?

I grew up hiking and camping with my mom and my brother as well as attending three week long youth camping trips since age seven.  At age fifteen, I went backpacking with a youth group in the Backcountry of Mammoth Mountains in the Sierra Nevada.  My love of wildlife and nature grew tremendously due to experiencing the beautiful outdoors.  I was a biochemistry major, though my love was really as a photographer that loved to hike in the forest and be surrounded  by wildlife, so I switched to a photography major.

What enticed you to join OWAA?

I won a Bodie McDowell Scholarship when I applied for scholarships to help pay for my Bachelor’s Degree in 2021.  I have since continued my Membership in OWAA.  

What is your favorite outdoor activity?

My favorite outdoor activity would have to be photographing wildlife, though I love to hike in the forest as well. Due to some Medical conditions I have, I am no longer able to backpack or enjoy camping so I enjoy what I am able to do, which is limited hiking and photographing wildlife and nature.  

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on my Bachelor’s Degree in Documentary Photography, and I am working on photographing wildlife, plants, and insects for Placerita Canyon’s kiosk displays, and volunteering as a Docent Naturalist.

What have you gained from the organization?

At OWAA I have recently gained insight on how to write a story pitch for publication, and I am joining the Women Outdoor Writers (WOW) meetings. I joined on June 9, 2023, for the very first time!  I enjoy reading the OWAA publication as it gives me great insight on the techniques of being a better writer and photographer. I applied for a mentorship in January and I am hoping to be paired with an OWAA mentor over the Summer 2023!


A video crew interviews an OWAA speaker.
A video crew interviews an OWAA speaker. Photo by Chez Chesak.

OWAA provides resources to help our members flourish as outdoor communicators and establish themselves as industry leaders. We create opportunities to make valuable industry and personal connections, sharpen professional skills, showcase work and gain access to in-demand educational resources and mentorship opportunities. Individual member benefits include:  

“I’ve been in a number of writer groups — travel writers, baseball writers, pro football writers, motorsports writers — and so far OWAA is far, far better than all of them in terms of welcoming, declaring and pursuing its mission, etc.”

– Matt Crossman 


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