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Montana is magical in the summer

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As much as I love winter, it often feels like I tolerate nine or 10 months of it, just to enjoy two to three months of incredible summers.

I do what I can to avoid leaving the Rocky Mountain region from July through mid-September. Even my closest friends know they probably shouldn’t get married on the East Coast in July if they want me to attend with a good attitude.

There are, of course, always things that pull me away, including OWAA’s annual conference. But not this year. This year’s conference is taking place in Montana. That means I get one more summer weekend in the state, and for those of you that live elsewhere, you have a professional excuse to visit.

If you are coming from out-of-state, make sure you plan on coming a few days early or staying a few days later to explore the area. A great way to truly experience a Montana summer is to sign up for one of our pre- and post-conference trips. It is activities like hiking and fishing that make Montana so magical during the summer.

If you haven’t already, you should plan to visit Yellowstone National Park. Our country’s first national park is other-worldly with geysers and hot pots and elk, bison and grizzly bears. This park, which brings in millions of visitors from around the world, is the trip-of-a-lifetime for many people.

That means lodging and guided trips fill up well in advance. If you are planning on visiting Yellowstone while at conference, consider making reservations now if you haven’t already.

Someone recently mentioned to me that we spend a lot of time promoting our conference, that it seemed as soon as one ended we were plugging the next. That might be true, but it is because we know conference is by far the best benefit we offer through OWAA. It’s not just about the sessions that help you hone your craft or business, or newsmaker sessions where you might get a story idea or background for future reporting. The biggest benefit is being around like-minded people who share your struggles in, but also your passion for, working in outdoor communication. Conference gives you tools to better yourself at your trade, but just as important, it fuels and reignites your inspiration.

I was recently reminded of how important and influential simply being around other people in your profession can be. In January the Lee County Visitor and Convention Bureau hosted OWAA’s winter board meeting on Captiva Island in Florida. After a full day meeting we had the chance to spend a day kayaking in Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge or fishing in the bay.

When I’m not editing Outdoors Unlimited, I work as a freelancer. And like most freelancers I can experience big dips in motivation and spikes of frustration. Just being around others talking about the latest policy news, story ideas and our love of the outdoors, left me inspired and ready to come back and tackle another year of freelancing. I mentioned stories I was working on and came up with new angles and outlets — and that happened during a two-day trip that included a board meeting. Imagine what three days of conference, plus the workshops and pre- and post-conference trips can do for your morale.

In the meantime, we are always looking for ways to motivate our members and help them gain new skills and make more money. Our latest effort is another webinar which will take place Feb. 17. Sponsored by Hunt’s Photo and Video, this webinar, which is free to OWAA members, will cover ways to make money as a nature photographer. Be sure to sign up at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/384746978245271554 and let us know if there are other webinars you’d like to see in the future.
— Editor Kelsey Dayton, editor@owaa.org

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