Letters to the Editor

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Scholarship recipient grateful

I would like to extend a great thanks to all of those involved with the Outdoor Writers Association for granting me this year’s Bodie McDowell Scholarship. This is an honor and will greatly help to forward my education and this profession as an outdoors communicator.
Hannah J. Ryan, Missoula, Mont.

Graduate student gives thanks

I am honored to have been awarded a Bodie McDowell Scholarship to help with my graduate studies. Thanks to the organization for providing this opportunity and to the judges for their time in reading my application. I look forward to enjoying the student member benefits of OWAA in the coming year.
Amy Whitcomb, Moscow, Idaho

Story idea: National Museum of Forest Service History

This past March, I was at the North American Wildlife Conference in Kansas City when I came across a booth for an interesting project that might make column or story fodder for members.
A nonprofit group called the National Museum of Forest Service History plans to build a legacy and educational center to exhibit the artifacts and records of the agency’s first century. It caught my eye because the museum is to be built at Missoula, Mont., which is also home for our OWAA headquarters. Plans for a museum built with timbers from every state are set, though the project is still in the fundraising mode.
The group’s website is www.nmfs-history.net.
I have no connection to the project. But I hope they get it done. Some of my finest times afield have been on U.S. Forest Service lands, and the story of the agency’s origins and first decades is fascinating conservation history.
Bill Graham, Platte City, Mo

Mistake to own HQs building

George Harrison is mistaken in implying [in the June 2011 issue of OU] that the board’s and membership’s decision (circa 1997) to own rather than rent its headquarters building was made because the board and members wanted a “shrine” to outdoor writers. At the 1995 mid-winter board meeting, I was tasked to study the advantages of ownership vs. renting. One fact that emerged was OWAA had spent about $160,000 in rental costs over ten years of leasing office space in State College, with no equity to show. The board concluded it made more ECONOMIC sense to apply those funds towards ownership to build equity. Of course, this assessment was made when real estate was not depreciating.
Having decided to own, the board then tasked me to analyze the best location. Cities were invited to ask OWAA to take a look at them as potential sites. Their assets and liabilities were judged against some 15-18 criteria approved by the Board. None had anything to do with establishing a “shrine” to outdoor writers; economic considerations predominated. One criterion did call for a location near a university offering a degree in journalism with an outdoor writing track, so that OWAA might mentor and “grow its young.” From that study, Missoula, Montana, bubbled to the top. The recommendation and rationale to move to Missoula and buy property were submitted to the membership, and better than 80 percent supported the plan.
An aggressive fundraising campaign was envisioned to help pay down a mortgage. Legendary fundraiser Jack Lorenz, then a board member, was eager to embark on this campaign. But other directors did not view aggressive fundraising as compatible with the purpose and ethics of a journalism organization and were less than supportive. Fundraising cannot succeed without total and enthusiastic commitment of an organization’s leadership, and thus this aspect of the business plan did not proceed as anticipated. A few years later, the “dispute” with the NRA caused a significant decline in membership revenues, further hampering OWAA’s ability to manage a mortgage. By that time, it probably made sense to sell and go back into rental property. But the original concept was sound. It was a business decision based upon solid economic analysis, with a financial plan that would have worked if other circumstances had not intervened.
— <strong>Jim Rainey, Carlisle, Pa. OWAA Executive Director, 1994-1998

Thanks for the effort!

Do you hold OWAA very close to your heart? Concerned where it is going? Watching membership figures?
Answer yes to any of the above, and you owe a big “thank-you” to the people below:
Pat Wray, Dan Small, Colleen Miniuk-Sperry, Tom Wharton, Jodi Stemler, Chris Madson, Jill Adler, Brett Prettyman, Jessica Pollett.
Together, they “wowed ‘em.” All 50 aspiring communicators who wandered into the “Becoming an Outdoors Communicator” workshop that helped open OWAA’s conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. Young, older; some very talented; some untested; attendees all came with questions for the above guest speakers who addressed the diverse world of outdoors communications.
Three hours of “Writing for Magazines,” “Book publishing,” and “Outdoor Television,” and no one headed for the doors early. Their numbers, their questions, their enthusiasm all said they were locked in to what we do.
OWAA membership may be down the road, but our colleagues again gave this group a solid start.
If you have the chance, thank the speakers for what they give — for they give it all!
Terry Brady, Zieglerville, Pa.

Feedback guidelines

Members are encouraged to write about issues and topics. The executive director and editor will decide whether opinions are appropriate for debate or if the comments promote a personal cause; if the “cause” is unrelated to OWAA’s mission and potentially damaging to the membership, the letter might not be printed. Word limit: 400. Longer letters will be returned for revision. Send letters to editor@owaa.org.


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