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BY BILL GRAHAM
OWAA ski jumped into a new year at Lake Placid. I greatly enjoyed seeing the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic sites in our conference visit to the Adirondacks region of New York. The Miracle on Ice hockey arena down the hall from our conference meeting rooms was way cool. Now, we look ahead to fishing, birding and outdoor romping in the Gulf of Mexico region for our May 23-25 conference hosted by McAllen, Texas.
Several things make me feel OWAA is headed upward and in for a good landing at McAllen.
New faces appeared among our membership ranks at Lake Placid. Whether they were young folks starting careers or veteran communicators, they were enthusiastic and brought fresh energy. They spoke well of sessions attended and the
encouragement offered by experienced members. Today’s first-timer is tomorrow’s leader.
For many of us, it was our first visit to gorgeous upstate New York. Thanks to New York for the welcome. Here’s hoping members of the New York outdoor writing community that shared a conference with us will also join us in Texas.
We all get a lift from being among kindred spirits for a few days.I was especially gratified to see members of the Pennsylvania delegation. They conjured memories of my first conference in Harrisburg, Pa., and of so many conferences after. I saw Bob Clark — I bought his turkey hunting book at a conference silent auction long ago. Terry Brady, tackling committee duties this year, brought thoughts of current chores on my to-do list.
Saying howdy to Kermit Henning, who recently finished a term on the endowment trustees, reminded me of how much volunteers make OWAA prosper. Thank you Keystone-state folks.
The OWAA Executive Committee meeting prior to conference start was one of the most communicative and fruitful that I’ve attended. Board meetings went well. Our thanks extended to Mark Taylor of Virginia, outgoing president, who did a great job running meetings and tackling issues that arose during his term in office.
The current OWAA board is creative and communicative. OWAA faces issues, including building membership and improving our brand’s national recognition. The organization will address those. In fact, at the second board meeting, members added an ad hoc Member Relations Committee chaired by Colleen Minuk-Sperry, and a Supporter Liaison Committee headed up by Lisa Densmore. Our Executive Director Tom Sadler and headquarters staff will be ramping up outreach to new members and supporters this year, but we’ll also reach inward to make sure we’re taking care of those already on board.
All our OWAA committees are up and running, including Membership, Marketing and Development. Densmore has the Conference Planning Committee for McAllen ahead of schedule.
We do have challenges, such as adapting to a journalism and marketing world that is fragmented and rapidly changing. But we have young leadership on the board and in the committees leading us forward. We have glitches sometimes — not everything runs perfect at a conference and it rarely has. But the board is listening to suggestions and will address improvements where we can.
OWAA is a big tent organization with all manner of outdoor communicators representing a wide variety of viewpoints, preferences and experiences. We offer connections and services to supporting groups, agencies and businesses that are diverse in mission. We might not always agree on the politics tied to conservation management, priority uses for natural resources or even what conference programming best serves members’ needs, but we will remain an interesting place for those who enjoy a cutting-edge vantage point for outdoor communicators.
Here’s hoping everyone gets off to a fine start in 2014, and please pencil McAllen into your late-spring calendar.♦
— OWAA President Bill Graham, firstname.lastname@example.org