Outdoor Writers Association of America Announces Excellence in Craft and Scholarship Winners

Through its annual Excellence in Craft Contest, the Outdoor Writers Association of America honored 65 professional journalists for their prize-winning work in dozens of media outlets.

The winners were announced on Saturday, June 27 during OWAA’s first-ever virtual annual conference.


In addition to the EIC Contest, OWAA honored the following members for their long-time support of OWAA and their career accomplishments:

  • Jade of Chiefs – Dan Small. Nominated, voted on and presented by past award winners.
  • Excellence in Craft – Guy Coheleach. “For outstanding effort in upholding the OWAA creed and continued excellence in craft.”
  • Ham Brown – Mark Taylor. OWAA’s most prestigious recognition of a member for devoted past service to the organization over a period of continuous years.
  • Committee Volunteers of the Year – OWAA’s Board of Directors introduced a new honorary award in 2018 to recognize one outstanding committee member for their excellence, commitment and service while volunteering their time with OWAA. This year’s recipients are Bill Graham and Drew YoungDyke.
  • Outstanding Board Member – The Board honors the Director who did the most work for the Association during the past year. This award is given for service “above and beyond.” This year’s recipient Christine Peterson.



The EIC Contest rewards the best-of-the-best in 10 media formats: Blog, Book, Column, Illustration/Graphic, Magazine, Newspaper, Photography, Photo Essay, Radio/Podcast, and TV/Video/Webcast.

Some are stand-alone contests while others include topics such as Fishing, Hunting or Shooting Sports, Conservation or Nature, Outdoor Fun and Adventure, Family Participation or Youth Outdoor Education, and Humor. The Photography Contest also includes categories for Action, Fauna, Flora, People and Scenic.

Five-time winners:

Although the 132 awards for first, second and third place were spread around to dozens of OWAA members, several won multiple awards, led by five-time winners Paul Smith of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Justine E. Hausheer of The Nature Conservancy.

Smith received first-place awards in Newspaper/Fishing and Newspaper/Outdoor Fun & Adventure, second place in Column and Newspaper/Fishing, and third place in Newspaper/Hunting or Shooting Sports.

Hausheer made her mark in the Blog Contest, where she won first place in Outdoor Fun & Adventure and in Humor. Both entries appeared on TNC’s Cool Green Science blog, as did her second-place winner in Humor and third-place winner in Conservation or Nature. She also took third place in Magazine/Conservation or Nature.

Four-time winners:

  • Lisa Ballard, from Montana, second and third in Magazine/Outdoor Fun & Adventure; third in Magazine/Family Participation or Youth Outdoor Education; and third in Magazine/Hunting or Shooting Sports
  • Brian Grossenbacher, from Montana, with firsts in Photo/Action and Photo Essay; second in Photo/People; and third in Photo/Family Participation or Youth Outdoor Education
  • John Kruse, from Washington, with firsts in Radio-Podcast/Gear-Technical and Outdoor Fun & Adventure, and thirds in Radio/Conservation or Nature and Radio/Hunting or Shooting Sports
  • Dawn LaPointe, from Minnesota, with second in Photo/Outdoor Fun & Adventure, and thirds in Photo/Outdoor Fun & Adventure, Photo/People, and Photo/Scenic
  • Matt Miller, from Idaho, first and second in Blog/Fishing; first in Magazine/Fishing, and third in Blog/Outdoor Fun & Adventure
  • Kris Millgate, from Idaho, firsts in Blog/Conservation or Nature and Magazine/Conservation or Nature, and seconds in Blog/Family Participation-Youth Outdoor Education and Blog/Outdoor Fun & Adventure
  • Bill Sherck, from Minnesota, in TV/Video/Webcast with first in Hunting or Shooting Sports, seconds in Fishing and Outdoor Fun & Adventure, and third in Family Participation/Youth Outdoor Education
  • Pat Wray, from Oregon, with a first and second in Magazine/Humor and first and second in Newspaper/Humor

Triple award winners:  

Pete Hermann-Franzen (TV-Video-Webcast), Jeff Kelm (Radio/Podcast and TV/Video/Webcast), Colleen Miniuk (Photography), John Myers (Newspaper), James Smedley (Photography), Jodi Stemler (Blog and Magazine), Emily Stone (Book and Newspaper).

Sponsored by OWAA, the nation’s oldest and largest organization of professional outdoor media, the EIC contest received additional support from Friesens Corporation, Izaak Walton League of America, Pew Charitable Trust, and Realtree.



Named in honor of former OWAA President Bodie McDowell, these scholarships are awarded annually to three or more students. Each year is different, but individual awards range from $1,000 to $5,000.

Recipients must be students of outdoor communications fields including print, photography, film, art, poetry or broadcasting. Open to eligible undergraduate and graduate students.

  • Andrew Dundas – University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Zack England – San Hose State University
  • Delger Erdenesanaa – TBD (acceptances at NYU, CUNY, Northwestern and Stanford)
  • Teresa Konechne – Maharishi International University
  • Eric Lynch – North Arizona University
  • Lakin Scheck – Fort Hays State University
  • Mattie Squire – Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Benjamin Weaver – Kent State University


About OWAA

Recognized as “The Voice of the Outdoors,” OWAA is the nation’s largest organization of professional outdoor journalists. Its membership includes writers, photographers, videographers, radio and TV personalities, digital storytellers and artists. Formed in 1927, the nonprofit association’s mission is to improve the professional skills and opportunities of its members, set the highest ethical and communications standards, encourage public enjoyment and conservation of natural resources, and mentor the next generation of professional outdoor communicators. https://owaa.org

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