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Shape our future, celebrate our past

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BY ROBIN GINER
Welcome to our commemorative issue of Outdoors Unlimited celebrating OWA’s 85th anniversary. We hope you’ll enjoy the stories and memories shared by some of our association’s long-time members. There are also ties to OWAA’s future in this issue, including a summary of the 2012-15 Strategic Plan on page 25. In November, the Strategic Planning Committee met in Missoula, Mont., to draft this plan, which was voted on and approved by the Board of Directors during the winter board meeting. The plan is filled with attainable goals that will help cement OWAA’s place as the premier organization for outdoor communicators for another 85 years.
On pages 20-23, you’ll find the biographies, mug shots and answers provided by this year’s slate of candidates for the Board of Directors election, along with a few bylaws initiatives that require your input. Some of the candidates’ names have been on the ballot before, others are new to the process — but all are worthy of your time and attention, and most importantly, your action by way of your vote. As in past years, the voting is only open to Active, Senior Active and Life members, and you’ll be asked to cast your vote between April 1 and May 1. But this year’s process will be a bit different…
Over the past decade, my math skills tell me that on average only 27 percent of eligible members participate in voting. So, with the blessing of the current board, we’re going to try something different: online voting. For those few members that we don’t have emails for, you’ll receive a ballot in the mail. For the rest, you’ll receive an email on April 1 with a link to the online ballot. This is, in part, a cost-savings strategy, as mailing the ballots gets more expensive every year. But it is, most importantly, a strategy to get more members to participate in the process and elect their fellow colleagues who will help guide the organization for the next three years. Exercise your right and vote for your top three candidates when the email hits your inbox.
Research tells me, through data collected by the American Society of Association Executives, that more individuals return their ballots via online voting than with traditional paper ballots. A 2009 study conducted by the consultant group The Kushner Companies reports that on average, ballots returns increased by at least 10 percent at 100 associations surveyed when they switched from paper balloting to electronic. Another article found on ASAE’s website suggests that voter participation rates could easily double with the online format. Although the process is a little different from years past, I hope you’ll take a couple minutes to review the candidates’ profiles and cast your vote when the time comes.
While many things have changed over the 85 years since OWAA began, one thing remains the same: OWAA remains the largest and most prestigious organization for those of us privileged enough to call the outdoors our office. ♦
— OWAA Executive Director Robin Giner, rginer@owaa.org
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