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One year later: Reflecting back and looking forward

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By the time you read this I will have passed the one-year mark as OWAA’s executive director. It has been an exciting year for OWAA — and for me personally. Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of this wonderful organization.
When I was hired, the board asked me to focus on growing OWAA, both its individual members and supporting groups. The best part of my job has been introducing — and in some case reintroducing — people to OWAA as the voice of the outdoors.
In 2013 we added 94 new members and reinstated 18, bringing our total individual membership to 843 people. We welcomed 37 new supporting groups and reinstated an additional 17 for a total of 188.
As I have said before, the key to our financial security rests predominantly in the revenue side of our operations. We can’t “cut” our way to financial security; we need to “grow” our way there. Your membership recruitment efforts and referrals are essential to our continued growth and are very much appreciated.
Beyond membership growth there were a number of exciting highlights in 2013. Our conference in Lake Placid was well attended and the sessions and events were well received.
We have a new editor at Outdoors Unlimited, Kelsey Dayton, who is producing a great magazine. In 2014 we will be doing more to make OU even better and more useful for members and supporters.
Two new ad-hoc committees have been added, Membership Services chaired by board member Colleen Miniuk-Sperry and Supporter Relations chaired by second vice president Lisa Densmore. Former board member Katie McKalip was appointed by the board to serve as supporter liaison. Both committees have been active and engaged.
In order to help spread the word about OWAA, I traveled to the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades and the International Fly Tackle Dealer show, better known by its acronym of ICAST/IFTD. I also attended the
American Sportfishing Association’s Saltwater Summit and the opening of the Great American Outdoor Show, and was interviewed by Outdoor Magazine which resulted in an excellent piece about OWAA (if you would like a copy just let me know).
Looking ahead is even more exciting.
Plans are well underway for our conference in McAllen, Texas. Densmore and OWAA’s Membership and Conference Services Director Jessica Pollett have been hard at work lining up exciting and informative sessions and working with the local committee on pre- and post- conference adventures.
Demo and shooting days are at wonderful venues sure to highlight Supporter demos and boosters.
The Excellence In Craft awards will be a celebration unto itself and Densmore has plans to make it especially entertaining. (You’ll have to come and see it for yourself). The honorary awards dinner will be a time to reflect on the accomplishments of the organization and our peers in a more traditional manner.
In 2016, the conference will be in OWAA’s home state in Billings, Mont. Pollett and I visited the city in November and are excited about the opportunities before, during and after conference.
While conference will always be OWAA’s premier networking and educational opportunity, we plan to increase member and supporter communications as well.
This summer we plan to revamp the OWAA website and OU Online — not a major overhaul just some updating and improved user performance.
We will be offering more webinars this year. Starting after conference we plan to have monthly sessions to include supporter spotlights, newsmakers and conservation issues.
We will be putting the directory online so it is always up-to-date and easily searchable. We are also looking at our in-house publications and will be moving them to a digital format as well.
Yes, 2013 was an exciting year and with your help 2014 will be even better! ♦
— OWAA Executive Director Tom Sadler, tsadler@owaa.org
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