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The future of OWAA

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This issue features condensed versions of President Tony Dolle’s column from the past few months. Visit OU Online (www.owaa.org/ou) every month so you don’t miss out on important association news, craft improvement articles and more.
I recently became reacquainted with my nearly 20-year-old compound bowl. During the first afternoon’s practice session, I concentrated on holding the arrow at full draw for several seconds longer than needed for simple target shooting, to simulate what I considered hunting conditions I had experienced in the past. Somewhere around practice arrow nine or 10, a butterfly landed just behind the tip of my arrow as I was putting the 25-yard pin on a lethal area of the target. I counted to 10 before the butterfly took flight.
The vivid black, yellow and orange of this particular butterfly was not lost on me and I released the arrow. Where it went, I couldn’t tell you. I had concentrated too much on the butterfly and not enough on the flight of the arrow.
I had missed the mark.
During our last conference, my good friend Jim Foster agreed to chair an ad hoc committee to call former OWAA members who had not renewed their memberships in the past couple of years, find out why and invite them back. Current board members volunteered to split up the non-renewals and personally contact those on the list.
The phone calls have resulted, not surprisingly, in several renewals. The personal contact seems to have worked where a series of written notices failed. That’s the good news. The bad news is that many of the former members who were contacted said they didn’t intend to renew or had let their membership lapse because they felt OWAA had softened and become an organization of butterfly lovers, not an organization of hunters and anglers.
We are, indeed, an organization of butterfly lovers. I proudly count myself among them. But we are also an organization of very hardcore hunters and anglers — and I just as proudly count myself among them!
But, let’s make no mistake about it. This ain’t your daddy’s OWAA anymore. Changes
in technology, changes in our media workforce numbers, changes in how we communicate to the public about the outdoors we all love (yep, even about the butterflies) and the demands of a very weak economy have changed the face(s) of OWAA.
Outdoor newspaper columnists tell me they can no longer simply write about hunting and fishing and still keep their jobs. They have had to broaden the scope of their coverage to satisfy the demands of readers and editors. It’s the same with other forms of print and digital media. Why should OWAA be any different? As our audiences change, our tactics to reach them must change, too.
Those former members who feel OWAA isn’t a professional organization for communicators who are hunters and anglers are just like my arrow. They missed the mark.
♦♦♦
I’ve got to hand it to OWAA staff, officers and the board of directors – we have made it almost a mandate to listen to the membership.
The current board works very hard to listen to what you, as OWAA members, have to say. Not surprisingly, you as members come up with some great ideas. If there is a negative side to your suggestions, it’s that you give us more good suggestions and
ideas than we can act upon. Really.
When you told us the EIC contests needed an overhaul to make them fairer, more professional and more appealing to more of our membership, we listened and then we acted. Committee co-chairs Mary Nickum and Lisa Densmore and the rest of the committee came up with some excellent changes in the contest structure that the hard-working committee, the board and the staff feel are overdue.
But we didn’t stop there. Really.
A group of our annual contest participants have said they feel additional changes are in order to make the contests even more appealing, fair and professional. While the board, staff and I may have differing opinions about those assessments, we do agree that the board should listen to the desires of membership. To that end, I’ve asked Bruce Cochran to chair an ad hoc committee that will take another look at EIC contests and report any suggested enhancements to the board at its winter meeting in January.
I’ve served as an OWAA board member for several years and I have to say the current board listens to the membership better than any with which I’ve served. The many conversations I’ve had with current board members indicate a willingness to serve the membership any way they can. Being a listening post is one of the most important
ways they serve you.
But as important as it is for the board and officers to listen to your suggestions and ideas, it is just as important for you to continue presenting us with your ideas to make OWAA a more professional organization.
We need your input. Without it, we cannot achieve the many tasks before us in the short time we have to make them happen.
♦♦♦
I had planned to discuss OWAA’s budget, discussing how we make sure we can meet our fiscal obligations — payroll, utilities, insurance, mortgage and other necessities. But the fall weather is too nice, hunting seasons are open across the nation and debits and credits are the farthest things from my mind right now.
Instead of thinking about the upcoming OWAA Board meeting, I’m thinking about other meetings — hunting trips with friends.
I should be trying to find new ways to help balance OWAA’s budget, but instead I’m thinking about finding ways to balance the trips I want to take with the remaining
few vacation days I have left.
Unfortunately, the business of OWAA never stops … and that’s a good thing. OWAA doesn’t stop just because hunting seasons are in full swing or the fish are biting. So, it’s back to the OWAA budget — which, I’m happy to report, looks like it is going to be OK for another year.
However, I’m not sure Gus, my German import, is going to understand why he has to ride in his crate in the pickup truck bed with no other cover while I’m toasty in my new waterfowl parka. ♦
—Tony Dolle, OWAA President tdolle@ducks.org
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