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2019 OWAA Elections: Candidates for the Board of Directors

CANDIDATE PROFILES

Five OWAA members are running for three seats on OWAA’s Board of Directors. The candidates, listed alphabetically below, were asked to submit short biographies, as well as answers to five questions approved by OWAA’s Board Nominating Committee. Their responses have been lightly edited for grammar, spelling, and Associated Press style.
The ballot also includes a proposed change to OWAA bylaws.

All active, senior active and life members are encouraged to vote by the May 1 deadline. Members will have received an email April 1 with a link to the online ballot. Members who don’t have an email address listed in OWAA’s database will receive a paper ballot by mail. All ballots must be returned by May 1. Winners will be announced in Outdoors Unlimited and on the OWAA website. New board members will start their three-year terms on June 24, 2019, at the summer board meeting.

 

JACK BALLARD

  • Residence: Montana
  • Years of OWAA Membership: 21
  • Conferences Attended: 15
  • Committees: In two previous terms on the board of directors and one as treasurer, I have served on most of the standing committees of the organization. I am currently an OWAA Endowment trustee.

Jack Ballard has published hundreds of articles in more than 50 different magazines and other publications. He also has published more than 1,000 photos in magazines, books, calendars and other media. He is the author of 13 books. His two most recent books are “Wildlife Photography” (2017) and “Large Mammals of the Rocky Mountains” (2018). He writes frequently in the areas of big-game hunting, upland bird hunting, fly-fishing (fresh and saltwater), wildlife natural history, conservation and other outdoor recreational pursuits.

1. Why are you running for OWAA’s board of directors? What are the top three things you hope to accomplish as a board member?

I have benefited greatly as a professional outdoor writer/photographer from OWAA and wish to advance the organization. As a board member I would hope to provide leadership in keeping the organization financially sound, offer an informed perspective in decision-making as both a long-time member and full-time outdoor communicator, and seek to make the organization increasingly relevant to contemporary forms of outdoor communication.

2. As “The Voice of the Outdoors,” OWAA needs to be current and vibrant, and become more diverse. What is your vision for accomplishing this challenge? How should OWAA recruit new members while retaining the ones we’ve got?

Imbedded in the organization’s mission statement is conservation. No matter one’s ethnic background, gender, age or place of residence, the threats to intact ecosystems in the form of invasive species, exotic diseases, habitat fragmentation, etc., on one hand, and the beauty and value of healthy natural systems on the other, can surely be a unifying factor throughout the membership. OWAA’s bedrock identity as an organization committed to conservation, in an age when increasing numbers of people seem to be grasping its necessity (despite what’s often reflected in political leadership), has the potential to be a very potent tool in both recruiting and retaining members.

3. What are the most important benefits and services OWAA offers to its members? What are your ideas for ways OWAA can best serve its membership?

I joined OWAA primarily for the opportunity to expand my writing assignments through postings in the “Outdoor Market” segment of the newsletter and the chance to meet editors at the annual conference. The network of people I’ve met at conferences has been my greatest benefit as a member. Enhancing those opportunities is one of the best ways the organization can serve its membership, along with providing professional development opportunities and facilitating the interchange of ideas and information among the membership.

4. The annual conference is OWAA’s most important event of the year. How do we attract more members to this “can’t miss” event and keep them coming back?

I believe this same question was posed when I first ran for the board around the dawn of the third millennium … I have attended most of the conferences since becoming a member, missing some because of family/professional conflicts and a handful from sheer lack of interest, mainly due to lackluster locations. Those I have enjoyed the most and from which I’ve received the greatest benefit have several things in common. They’re held in an interesting place with some outdoor cache. The area holds rich opportunity for writing assignments to pursue while at the conference, at least some of which is accessible through pre-conference and post-conference trips. The conference program contains multiple sessions which might spawn writing opportunities or offers value in relation to professional development.

5. Tell us about your outdoor passions—what they are, why you love them, and how they fit into your professional media work.

The motto on my website is “anything outdoors.” There are some outdoor pursuits I shun, such as rock-climbing and geo-caching. I like all types of hunting and am currently very enthused by hunting upland birds and waterfowl with my puppy. In relation to big-game hunting, my highest satisfaction is watching my sweetheart and children find success in the field. I could pursue saltwater fly-fishing year-round. I’ve kind of given up most backpacking in favor of day hikes and trail-running. There is nothing more exhilarating in all of the out-doors than ripping really high-speed turns on long, narrow alpine skis. I write about what I like and take pictures of it, too.

NICK LOWREY

  • Residence: South Dakota
  • Years of OWAA Membership: 4
  • Conferences Attended: 3
  • Committees: None

Nick Lowrey is the managing editor of the Capital Journal newspaper in Pierre, South Dakota, and serves as editor of the newspaper’s magazine, South Dakota Outdoors. His outdoor writing has appeared in newspapers all over South Dakota and in regional magazines. Over the course of his five years at the Capital Journal and South Dakota Outdoors, Nick has helped the magazine expand its distribution, built a state Capitol news bureau and most recently oversaw the launch of the newspaper’s re-design.

1. Why are you running for OWAA’s board of directors? What are the top three things you hope to accomplish as a board member?

I’m a veteran of the Iraq war. While that doesn’t exactly make me unique in this field, it has given me a different perspective on what makes the outdoors important and why effective communication about outdoor pursuits and the issues affecting them are essential to making sure future generations have the same, if not better, opportunities to enjoy the outdoors than we do now.

As a member of the board, I hope to help make OWAA a bigger part of the national R3 movement which seeks to recruit, retain and reactivate hunters and anglers. I also want to explore ways to keep members connected outside of our annual conference and look for ways to help more members get to our annual conference.

2. As “The Voice of the Outdoors,” OWAA needs to be current and vibrant, and become more diverse. What is your vision for accomplishing this challenge? How should OWAA recruit new members while retaining the ones we’ve got?

As an organization of communicators, we’re ideally situated to help make more outdoors people. To do that OWAA needs to become a more active, integral part of the national R3 movement. For those unfamiliar with R3, it stands for Recruit, Retain and Reactivate. The goal is to recruit new hunters and anglers, retain existing hunters and anglers, and finally to reactive those hunters and anglers who have given up the lifestyle. While the idea is focused mainly on making more hunters and anglers, it can apply to just about any outdoor pursuit, particularly when looking at the issue of diversity.

There is a growing interest in locally sourced food, healthy living and spending time outdoors among young adults of all backgrounds. Many, especially those living in urban environments, don’t know how to get started.

I believe there are opportunities to partner with organizations such as Pheasants Forever, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, Ducks Unlimited and others to help create a new generation of outdoors enthusiasts and train the communicators they’ll rely on to stay informed about their pursuits.

If we want to recruit more new members, we’ll need to have a hand in creating them.

3. What are the most important benefits and services OWAA offers to its members? What are your ideas for ways OWAA can best serve its membership?

The biggest benefit I’ve been provided is the opportunity to learn from my fellow outdoor communicators. Usually this comes through the annual conference.

I would like to see OWAA work a little harder at keeping our members connected throughout the year. That could be through organizing web-based mini conferences or finding better ways to help members connect outside of conference to ask each other questions, collaborate or commiserate. Outdoors Unlimited also has been a valuable resource.

4. The annual conference is OWAA’s most important event of the year. How do we attract more members to this “can’t miss” event and keep them coming back?

That’s a tough question, largely because I don’t know enough about why members don’t come. I do know why I’ve tried to attend every conference that’s been held since I joined OWAA — it’s one of the only times of the year I get to speak with fellow outdoor communicators. I also learn a lot and make connections that I couldn’t otherwise.

That being said, going to the conference is expensive. Taking a look at how we can help members more easily justify the cost of attending, either to their bosses or accountants, would be one of my priorities.

Putting more emphasis on craft improvement and collaboration at conference might help, too.

5. Tell us about your outdoor passions — what they are, why you love them, and how they fit into your professional media work.

I am a hunter and an angler. I grew up doing both. And until 2005, I hadn’t put much thought into why I was a hunter. I was in Iraq, reminiscing about being a kid, chasing deer, pheasants and grouse when I had my first “deep thoughts” about why I still considered myself a hunter and an angler. Later, my time outdoors kept me anchored at a time when I could easily have become lost. I wouldn’t be where I am personally or professionally without hunting and fishing. This is a big reason I’m so passionate about helping others learn how to hunt and fish.

Still, it wasn’t until 2012 when I started interning at the Capital Journal that hunting and fishing became part of my profession. I took it upon myself to start writing about some of the issues facing hunters and anglers in South Dakota — a topic no one else at the paper cared to cover. Later, I started writing about my own experiences in a weekly column. My current job, managing editor at the Capital Journal and its magazine South Dakota Outdoors, is a direct result of the outdoor writing I did as an intern.

GARY MOORE

  • Residence: Vermont
  • Years of OWAA Membership: 34
  • Conferences Attended: 20
  • Committees: Education, ethics; local chair for 2020 OWAA conference

Gary Moore is a freelance writer, photographer and broadcaster whose syndicated weekly column has appeared in Vermont and New Hampshire papers for 41 years. He also writes a monthly column for regional magazines. Public service has been a big part of his life. He has served Vermont in many positions appointed by various governors including Fish & Game Commissioner, chairman of the Water Resources Board, chairman of the Vermont State Colleges System, chairman of the four-state Connecticut River Flood Control Commission, chairman of the bi-state Connecticut River Joint Commissions and member of the Criminal Justice Training Council.
Locally, he has been a firefighter for 50 years and fire chief for much of the time, public safety commissioner, emergency management director, school board member and justice of the peace.
Professionally, he has been a high school English teacher, assistant headmaster, and environmental consultant. For 15 years he has been teaching police, fire, military and EMS all over the United States and its territories. As a long-serving member of the Vermont Hazardous Materials Response Team, he responds to emergencies around the state.
He holds degrees from Lyndon State College, Dartmouth College and the University of Vermont and has done graduate work at several other colleges and universities in New England and Canada.
He is a past president of the New England Outdoor Writers Association, a life member and a director emeritus.

1. Why are you running for OWAA’s board of directors? What are the top three things you hope to accomplish as a board member?

I am running for the board because I now have the time and feel a need to give back to an organization from which I have benefitted so much. Continuing to grow the membership, to increase its financial stability, and to make the annual conference a must-attend event would be my priorities.

2. As “The Voice of the Outdoors,” OWAA needs to be current and vibrant, and become more diverse. What is your vision for accomplishing this challenge? How should OWAA recruit new members while retaining the ones we’ve got?

The organization needs to listen carefully to the needs of its current members and at the same time encourage those who may come from other backgrounds to join, as we have much to offer and should welcome their input.

3. What are the most important benefits and services OWAA offers to its members? What are your ideas for ways OWAA can best serve its membership?

The annual conference is a huge benefit as is networking, which often comes from attending. Outdoors Unlimited is a valuable benefit as well. I learn something new from every issue. We must continue to do what we do well and look for ways to meet other needs of members as they are identified.

4. The annual conference is OWAA’s most important event of the year. How do we attract more members to this “can’t miss” event and keep them coming back?

We need to strive to keep the cost affordable and vary the timing from year to year to better meet the schedules of the members. The surveys of members help decide where and when the conferences should be held and the programs that will attract the most.

5. Tell us about your outdoor passions—what they are, why you love them, and how they fit into your professional media work.

My passions are hiking, hunting, fishing, canoeing, cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing as well as working in our 58-acre woods to improve wildlife habitat and the health of the forest. All of the above end up as columns, articles, photographs and presentations.

TREY REID

  • Residence: Arkansas
  • Years of OWAA Membership: 11
  • Conferences Attended: 4
  • Committees: Conference Planning

Trey Reid started his professional career in 1997 as a sportswriter at the Pine Bluff Commercial, his hometown newspaper in southeastern Arkansas. He worked as a sportswriter and copy editor at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette from 1999 to 2001 before becoming the newspaper’s outdoors editor from 2001 to 2005. Reid left the newspaper business to work for ESPN, where he worked as the field reporter on the show “BassCenter” from 2005 to 2006. He went into public relations with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission in 2006 and now is the agency’s assistant chief of communications, producing and hosting the agency’s television show “Arkansas Wildlife” since 2015. Reid also has worked as a freelance writer, with work published in national and regional outlets such as ESPNOutdoors.com, Bassmaster, Greenhead and many more.

1. Why are you running for OWAA’s board of directors? What are the top three things you hope to accomplish as a board member?

I look at service on the board of directors as a way to give something back to the organization that has given so much to me over the past dozen years. In addition to serving the membership and providing leadership for the organization, I hope to in-crease membership and expand our group’s appeal to a new generation of communicators, and on a somewhat selfish note, I want to strengthen and enhance the friendships and professional relationships I’ve cultivated in the organization.

2. As “The Voice of the Outdoors,” OWAA needs to be current and vibrant, and become more diverse. What is your vision for accomplishing this challenge? How should OWAA recruit new members while retaining the ones we’ve got?

We can’t forget our past and our roots, but to stay truly current and vibrant, we must break out of the mold we’ve cast for ourselves for far too long. Why doesn’t our membership include more travel writers? More action sports writers? While we’ve done a good job of recruiting members whose focus goes beyond “hook and bullet” and into the so-called “non-consumptive” outdoor pursuits, we must do better. It may be as simple as calling and writing friends and counterparts in the business, or as complex as developing a marketing strategy, but I think our message to potential new members is that we need them as much as they need our organization. We should focus on the symbiotic relationship between the organization and individual members, while also striving to be more inclusive. As someone who deals with parallel issues while working for a state fish and wildlife agency, I’m acutely aware of the obstacles to success and bring a perspective that could be helpful when dealing with this challenge.

3. What are the most important benefits and services OWAA offers to its members? What are your ideas for ways OWAA can best serve its membership?

Beyond the annual OWAA conference, the biggest benefit to members is our organization’s network of professional colleagues who share our passion and enthusiasm for the outdoors and communication. We need to find new ways to connect members throughout the year, not just during our few days at the annual conference. This will require some work on the part of individual members, and a willingness to engage, but perhaps there are things we can do to foster and encourage such engagement. With the proliferation of social media and so many ways to connect through technology, we surely can find innovative ways to engage our members. Perhaps we can achieve results through a social media channel or recurring virtual meetings where members can share personal stories, anecdotes, fun photos from a location or assignment, our successes and failures. Our magazine accomplishes this to an extent, but we need to find additional channels through which we can engage in conversations about our work and create a stronger sense of community among members.

4. The annual conference is OWAA’s most important event of the year. How do we attract more members to this “can’t miss” event and keep them coming back?

Location is critical to the success of the annual conference, but most important to its success is what we offer attendees in the form of programming, conference trips, networking opportunities and just plain old fun. We have to make the conference relevant on multiple levels. We must continue to seek dynamic presenters who can deliver engaging material on a variety of subjects. In addition to craft improvement sessions, we need to focus more on providing content that can be converted to marketable stories for publication or broadcast. We need to broaden the scope of our pre- and post-conference trips. If I’m a freelancer attending the conference, I want to leave with enough stories that I at least can cover my travel expenses. We’ve done this in the past, but I think we’ve fallen short in this area in more recent years. We also need to make the conference more fun. In the earliest days of my OWAA membership, the annual conference featured multiple hospitality suites every night, huge raffles with items from sponsors and industry supporters, and a robust silent auction. There’s no reason we can’t do that for the conference every year.

5. Tell us about your outdoor passions — what they are, why you love them, and how they fit into your professional media work.

My two greatest outdoor passions are fishing and duck hunting. In my home state of Arkansas, duck hunting is almost a birthright. I was introduced to it at an early age by my father, and I cherish the memories we made over the years. We hunted white-tailed deer and small game, as well, but duck hunting has stuck with me more than the others. It appeals to me because it’s a more social type of hunting; I can talk and laugh with my friends and family until we’re actively trying to lure ducks into range. Its appeal also is rooted in the fleeting nature of the pursuit. Ducks are only visitors to my home state, spending a few months here each winter, and it strikes me as miraculous that a bird born thousands of miles from here on the northern U.S. and Canadian prairies makes its way here. It’s that relatively rare intersection of hunter and prey that makes duck hunting so special to me. There’s also the element of calling, having a conversation with your quarry, that makes duck hunting one of my favorite pursuits.

I love to fish for just about anything, but my favorite type of fishing is canoeing or wading an Ozark Mountain stream for smallmouth bass. Our smallies don’t grow as large as they do in many northern states, but they don’t lack spirit and spunk, and they don’t live in ugly places. Over the past decade, I’ve gotten into saltwater fly-fishing and make annual trips to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula to hit the flats in search of bonefish, permit, snook and tarpon. Saltwater flats fishing uniquely and simultaneously satisfies my passion for hunting and fishing as I stalk the shallow flats and cast to visible targets. I host and produce a weekly television show about Arkansas’s many outdoor opportunities, so I’m lucky that I pursue my passions and call it “work.” But don’t be surprised if our episodes feature an inordinate amount of duck hunting and smallmouth fishing.

EMILY STONE

  • Residence: Wisconsin
  • Years of OWAA Membership: 6
  • Conferences Attended: 2
  • Committees: None

As the naturalist/education director at the Cable Natural History Museum in Cable, Wisconsin, Emily Stone writes a popular Natural Connections column published in more than 20 local and regional newspapers and produces a Natural Connections podcast. This column, and additional freelance writing, have earned her EIC awards in multiple categories. Her second book, “Natural Connections—Dreaming of an Elfin Skimmer,” was due out in March 2019. While her writing is mostly aimed at adults, she also enjoys leading children’s programming and practicing ways to communicate with all ages effectively. She designs museum exhibits and edits the biannual newsletter. With a degree in outdoor education-natural history from Northland College and a field naturalist master’s degree from the University of Vermont, she is dedicated to celebrating science, and to telling stories about the tiny, gross and underappreciated parts of nature.

1. Why are you running for OWAA’s board of directors? What are the top three things you hope to accomplish as a board member?

In just a few years of membership, OWAA has made a positive impact on my professional life. Now I’d like to return the favor by serving on the board. 1. I hope to increase our outreach to educators and scientists. If we can help educators and scientists hone their communication skills, then their work can find even broader audiences. 2. I would like to see an increase in craft improvement resources aimed at people who write for younger audiences. 3. I hope to help continue to increase attendance at the annual conferences.

2. As “The Voice of the Outdoors,” OWAA needs to be current and vibrant, and become more diverse. What is your vision for accomplishing this challenge? How should OWAA recruit new members while retaining the ones we’ve got?

I love the way that both the conferences and Outdoors Unlimited provide opportunities for intergenerational networking. Giving members the chance to share their skills and learn new ones is the most important part of retainment and recruitment. I would also like to bring more educators and scientists into the fold, as well as communicators who are writing for the next generation.

3. What are the most important benefits and services OWAA offers to its members? What are your ideas for ways OWAA can best serve its membership?

The networking, craft improvement sessions and opportunities for rejuvenation at the annual conferences are incredible. OWAA’s conferences are the most useful and easiest to navigate of any conference I’ve attended. Outdoors Unlimited is like a mini conference with fewer travel expenses. Those two benefits are synergistic. I love having met the OU contributors in person at the conferences, because personally knowing their credentials makes having their advice in print even more valuable.

The best way that we can serve our membership is to continue having these excellent, cutting-edge craft improvement and networking resources to help navigate a rapidly changing world.

4. The annual conference is OWAA’s most important event of the year. How do we attract more members to this “can’t miss” event and keep them coming back?

At the Cable Natural History Museum, we’ve found that excellent programing is our best tool for recruiting new participants. In the same way, when OWAA schedules conference sessions that address new challenges in our field, then members may find that they can’t afford not to attend. Perhaps additional incentives for first-time attendees could also help set the hook. I was hesitant to try to afford a conference initially, but once I experienced my first conference, future attendance became a priority.

5. Tell us about your outdoor passions—what they are, why you love them, and how they fit into your professional media work.

I grew up as a “mud and water daughter” and turned that into a profession when I began mentoring girls at summer camp. Teaching and learning are my favorite outdoor activities. The focus of my work continues to be getting people of all ages outdoors where they can connect with the natural world. Their fresh joy feeds mine. Even if I can’t personally take people outside, my newspaper column lets readers explore nature vicariously. I tag along with scientists doing field work whenever possible. I consider myself a naturalist, which means knowing a little bit about almost everything. That said, botany and geology form the base of my knowledge. All of that informs my writing, and you can often find me seeking inspiration on my cross country skis, one of three bikes, or paddling through the Boundary Waters in my canoe.

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