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OWAA headquarters team to add new member

BY ASHLEY SCHROEDER

The headline of this column could read “Ashley wishes to step back from fulltime job duties with OWAA.” But instead, I think it should be “OWAA adds to headquarters team.”

The short story:

I have decided to step back from my full-time duties as editor of Outdoors Unlimited and have someone else join the headquarters team in that capacity. I will continue to work part-time for OWAA and will remain actively involved in OWAA’s online presence and communications with members, supporters and the public, but from a more behind-the-scenes role. This transition has been a long time coming and will allow me more time to grow my freelance graphic and website design business.

This is the last issue of OU that will list in the masthead, my name as editor. As I type this, the hiring committee is nearing the end of the interview and hiring process and the new publications editor will publish the October/November issue of OU.

The long story:

There’s a saying, attributed to Kobi Yamada, that goes: “Sometimes you just have to take the leap, and build your wings on the way down.”

As most of you know, especially if you attended my “why you need a website” session at the Alaska conference, that when I’m not working for OWAA or training for marathons, I moonlight as a website designer, also doing graphic design for online and print.

I’ve always had an eye for design, but I first caught the bug for designing websites in 2009. Perhaps you’ll remember when Paul Queneau helped HQ staff set up a WordPress website for Outdoors Unlimited when the publication initially moved to an online-only publication. (I don’t know about you, but I’m glad we’re now publishing bimonthly, in addition to having an online version.) WordPress has come a long way since then, and along the way I’ve been learning more about the content management system, creating websites for small businesses and individuals, and even a few OWAA members who have contracted out with me to create their websites.

The time has now come for me to take a leap of faith career-wise, as my time living and playing in Missoula may be coming to an end. To that end, my job with OWAA doesn’t have to be done “in Missoula.” But as my website design business grows, there are unfortunately only so many hours in the day. Because I have come to care about this organization deeply, I want to make sure that if and when I leave this idyllic town that OWAA is well-suited with staff to carry on the work currently being done at headquarters.

Words cannot express how grateful I am for the work environment I’ve had the past 4.5 years (five, if you include my college internship). Since I first started working at OWAA HQs, Outdoors Unlimited has come and gone as a printed publication to digital magazine, to back to print again, in a variety of frequencies and formats. Throughout that time, I helped launch our social media accounts, including our Facebook page which is liked by almost 1,300 people as of this writing. Our website has undergone a redesign — twice. We’ve greatly increased the frequency of press release writing and distribution, expanded our conference’s website presence, and moved the EIC contests to an online-based entry system, to name a few ways I’ve been involved with OWAA’s move forward in the digital frontier the past few years.

I’ve enjoyed working as editor of Outdoors Unlimited since August 2009 but am also excited for my new role at OWAA HQs. And I can’t wait to see what the future holds for OWAA’s members, supporters, staff, and our new editor who I look forward to welcoming to the headquarters team. ◊

— Ashley Schroeder, OWAA Publications and Communications Director, aschroeder@owaa.org

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