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OWAA all-star members

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BY LISA BALLARD 
As I enter my third month as OWAA’s president (fourth by the time you read this), I continually marvel at the depth OWAA’s and breadth of experience you, the members of OWAA and its supporters, have and how generous you are to share your knowledge with the rest of us. It’s a vitally important aspect of our organization and the reason why we value your involvement.
Take Paul Queneau. Paul’s day job is conservation editor of Bugle Magazine for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. For OWAA, he has volunteered to serve on a number of committees, including the Executive Committee as secretary and chair of the Marketing Committee. On Aug, 27, Paul taught OWAA’s first webinar which taught people how to use Adobe Lightroom to process and organize digital images. Twenty photographers attended the webinar. OWAA will do more webinars for its members after the success of this debut.
Tom Keer, a freelance writer who heads the Keer Group, a media and marketing company, has just put the finishing touches on new eye-catching marketing materials to help OWAA recruit new members. It’s something I’ll be proud to give to colleagues I know should join our ranks. Please check it out on www.owaa.org, use it frequently, and thank Tom, who put this together at no charge to OWAA.
Phil Bloom is actively involved in a different sort of recruitment for OWAA, lining up an impressive group of speakers for the 2016 OWAA conference in Billing, Montana. This former newspaper man, who now works in public  affairs for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, is currently serving as OWAA’s 2nd Vice President a job that comes conference planning duties. This is his second time in the progression to president. The conference will undoubtedly be one of the best ever with Phil in charge. He’s also chairing the Contests Committee for the second year in a row, coordinating the many judges for the Excellence in Craft Contests.
Another former OWAA president, Rich Patterson, is chairing the Development Committee and serving as an Endowment Trustee. A former long-time director of a well endowed nature center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, he’s educating our organization about long-term fundraising and spearheading an effort to build our endowment. It might take a decade or two, but if OWAA follows the groundwork Rich has laid, our endowment will eventually grow enough to support a significant portion of our operations, allowing OWAA to provide us with more benefits with less budgetary stress.
I would be remiss not to mention board member Colleen Miniuk-Sperry who is chairing both the photo section and the Member Services Committee this year. The photo section is the most active section in OWAA thanks to Colleen. Under her leadership, OWAA photographers have more ways to show their work, Photo Fridays on our Facebook page and during the PechaKucha session at conference. This OWAA wonderwoman is also the driving force behind OWAA’s conference survey. If you haven’t taken it yet, please do, whether or not you’ve been to a conference. It takes only 10 minutes, but offers crucial feedback to the organization. The input from this comprehensive survey will help OWAA customize future conferences to best fit what we want. You can find it at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2015owaaconferencesurvey.
And then there’s Mark Freeman. My immediate predecessor is a self-deprecating powerhouse who has arguably done more recently to help you do your work than anyone in OWAA. This award-winning outdoor writer for the Mail Tribune in Medford, Oregon, is working on behalf of OWAA’s members to clarify the language various national agencies, such as the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management, use to define who needs permits and who doesn’t to write, photograph and film on public lands. He took the lead representing OWAA with the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee which reviewed the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act, which included this language. With Mark’s expertise and input, we will hopefully be successful at keeping public lands open to outdoor communicators without impediment, not only to cover breaking news, but also to create stories that promote outdoor recreation, public access, conservation and stewardship of our public lands.
Wow! I am honored to be part of OWAA and to have colleagues such as these. It’s one of the many benefits of belonging to this great organization, the oldest and largest group of outdoor communicators in the United States. ♦
— OWAA President Lisa Ballard, Densmore1@aol.com
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