Recent Outdoor Talk Posts
MISSOULA, Mont. — The Outdoor Writers Association of America announces the hiring of Tom Sadler as the organization’s executive director.
Sadler is a lifelong outdoorsman and has worked for years in both the conservation and outdoor recreation arenas. A former U.S. Navy Reserve officer and an avid angler and hunter, he lives in Verona, Va., in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley. Sadler replaces Robin Giner, who left OWAA at the end of 2012.
“OWAA is fortunate to find someone of Tom’s caliber to lead our organization into a demanding new era,” said Mark Taylor, OWAA president and outdoor writer for The Roanoke Times. “This era requires that we adapt to an ever-changing media landscape in order to best serve our existing membership and attract new members. Tom is more than equal to the task at hand.
“We had a number of excellent candidates, but Tom’s experience in the outdoor and conservation arenas — complemented by his vast professional network — best positions him to lead the OWAA,” continued Taylor. “I believe he will guide our group to new heights.”
Sadler owns and runs a consulting firm, The Middle River Group, where he focuses on advocating for outdoor recreation and conservation. He launched the company in 2008 after moving to Verona from Washington, D.C. Prior to that, Sadler was the director of program development for the Trust for Public Land. He also served as the conservation director for the Izaak Walton League of America and was president of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation.
Sadler has worked as an outdoor columnist for the New Virginian in Waynesboro and writes about the outdoors and conservation on his blog, Dispatches from Middle River (middleriverdispatch.com). He also works occasionally as a fly-fishing guide for Mossy Creek Fly Fishing in Harrisonburg, Va.
Sadler serves on the boards of the American Fly Fishing Trade Association and the National Fisheries Friends Partnership. He also is a member of the steering committee of the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture, a National Fish Habitat Partnership.
“My passion for the outdoors and conservation are exceeded only by my desire to share those passions with others,” Sadler said. “OWAA members are the best communicators of those passions. To be able to help OWAA do more of that by growing the membership, increasing our supporter base and helping our members and supporters become successful is really an exciting opportunity.”
OWAA is The Voice of the Outdoors®. The Outdoor Writers Association of America is the oldest and largest association of professional outdoor communicators in the United States. It was organized in 1927 by members of the Izaak Walton League of America and includes professional communicators dedicated to sharing the outdoor experience. OWAA’s professionals include writers, photographers, outdoors radio- and television-show hosts, book authors, videographers, lecturers and artists. The association is headquartered in Missoula, Mont. For more information, contact Outdoor Writers Association of America, 615 Oak St., Ste. 201, Missoula, Mont. 59801; 406-728-7434, firstname.lastname@example.org; www.owaa.org.
by Chris Hunt
As outdoor bloggers, our efforts aren’t always taken seriously. The Outdoor Blogger Network and its creators, Rebecca Garlock and Joe Wolf, have done much to legitimize the work we do, and many of us have them to thank for some of the rewards our blogging earned us over the OBN’s two short years of existence. We’re gaining legitimacy.
I, for one, am very grateful, not just for the “clearing house” OBN provides, but for the friendships I’ve acquired through being able to connect with my fellow bloggers, both online and in person. These are relationships that I believe have the staying power to last a lifetime, and being able to share my work with them has proven invaluable. I’m a better blogger because of it.
I’m fortunate, too, to be a member of another amazing community of outd00rspeople who share my passion for communicating the outdoors to others–the Outdoor Writers Association of America. You see, I came late to blogging–I’m a former newspaper writer turned PR flak for one of the country’s better-known conservation organizations. My affiliation with OWAA started eight years ago, and it continues today because I truly love the organization, what it’s done for me personally and professionally and because of the friendships I’ve made along the way.
So it’s with great pleasure that I let my friends in the outdoor blogging world know that OWAA now has a full membership category for those of us who blog. This is the same organization to which outdoor legends like Ted Trueblood and Tony Dean once belonged. Over the years, through OWAA, I’ve had the opportunity to rub elbows with some of the icons of the craft–I got to fish for three days with Joel Vance in the wilds of northern Saskatchewan, and I’ve listened to Babe Winkelman serenade a room of fellow outdoor communicators with Jimmy Buffett music. I enjoyed a bottle of good port wine with Tony Dean at a quiet bar in Roanoke, Va., just about a year before he tragically died. These experiences are priceless to me–and I’m a better communicator, writer and, yes, blogger, because of the wisdom these people have bestowed upon me.
For me, OWAA membership is a no-brainer. It’s put me in touch with some of today’s most respected outdoor communicators, and it keeps me apprised of outdoor writing opportunities that arise frequently–thanks to this organization, I’ve managed to sell enough of my work to pay for my annual dues of $150 dozens of times over. But, much like being a part of OBN, being a part of OWAA is rewarding above and beyond the work it helps me do, and the legitimacy it lends my efforts.
It’s about the people. The friendships I’ve made through OWAA are lasting relationships that are more special to me than any paycheck I might garner
from writing about the outdoors. These friendships are irreplaceable. They’re forged with people who love and appreciate the outdoors just as I do.
Every year, I make it a point to attend the OWAA annual conference. Since I joined OWAA, I’ve attended conferences in Roanoke, Lake Charles, La., Grand Rapids, Mich., Bismark, N.D., Rochester, Minn., Salt Lake City, Utah, and Chena Hot Springs, Alaska, just outside of Fairbanks. Each conference offers unique educational opportunities for craft improvement, and each conference is situated near unique outdoor opportunities–from Bismark, I hopped a plane with Vance and was fishing for pike in Saskatchewan the day after the conference concluded, and in Lake Charles, I got to chase redfish in the Atchafalaya marshes. This past summer, I walked from my room at Chena Hot Springs and cast dry flies to rising grayling. Thankfully, because of my friends at OWAA, I get to experience these things with great people at my side who get just as excited as I do at the prospect of trying something new, outside under wild skies.
In September 2013, the OWAA annual conference is in Lake Placid, N.Y., and I’ll be there along with dozens of great friends who’ll invest time improving their outdoor communicating careers while catching up with friends and perhaps doing something new in the outdoors.
But wait… there’s more. OWAA celebrates excellence in outdoor communicating every year through it’s Excellence in Crafts awards, which are announced every year at conference. And, here’ the kicker–bloggers are now eligible to win these awards through our own blogging category. There are literally thousands of dollars up for grabs every year through sponsored contests that can, in reality, pay for your trip to conference and leave you with enough left over to buy your pals a beer after the banquet. And, if you join OWAA this month, you’re eligible to enter your blogs in the various EIC contests, and could be announced as a winner this September in Lake Placid–the deadline for entries in Feb. 1, 2013.
If you’re interested in OWAA, I hope you’ll let me know. If your blog gets 500 unique visitors a month, or you make a profit from it in some fashion or another, you’re eligible to become a full-fledged member of a very prestigious–yet wonderfully down-to-earth–organization that will only make you a better blogger. I will happily be your sponsor, or I’ll recommend a sponsor who lives near you, so you can begin to create your own network within OWAA. You’ll learn how to expand your own outdoor communication empire and grow your audience in the process. Who knows… you might be the next Tony Dean.
Let me know if you’re interested in OWAA–I’ll help you make the most of your membership.
Group Commercial Liability Insurance for Guides and Outfitters
The American Fly Fishing Trade Association (AFFTA) is excited to announce a major new member benefit for fly fishing outfitters and guides, as well as retailers that offer in-house guiding and outfitting.
Beginning this month, AFFTA members in all 50 states who make a living guiding and outfitting clients will now have the opportunity to purchase commercial liability insurance as a group at a special industry discounted rate. Through this new AFFTA program, the annual premium for an independent guide is only $400.00. This comprehensive policy will include $2 million in aggregate coverage with $1 million of coverage per occurrence. Outfitters who employ guides will be able to pay the $400 annually for their own coverage, and can then add their guides to the policy for only $175 each (with the same amounts of coverage).
This program has the potential to collectively save professional guides and outfitters hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Capital Insurance – an A+ rated insurer located in Minneapolis, Minnesota – will be underwriting the policies, and the Bissel Company of Bozeman, Montana will be the broker handling all applications.
“We all know that obtaining commercial liability insurance coverage is very expensive for professional outfitters and guides, with rates continuing to rise year after year” said AFFTA President Ben Bulis. “I have spoken to many guides who pay in excess of $1200 a year for their basic insurance coverage. With the tens of thousands of guides in the fishing industry, this program has the potential to collectively save this segment of the industry an incredible amount annually.”
“Commercial liability insurance is a must in our litigious society,” said AFFTA Chairman Jim Klug. “It is something that provides a level of financial security while guiding clients on the water. The fact that AFFTA is now able to offer a group rate on this insurance coverage is huge – arguably the most significant thing that we’ve done for members in years. It would be crazy for any guide or outfitter not to join AFFTA and take full advantage of a policy that will in all likelihood reduce their annual insurance costs by more than half.”
“We’re very excited about this new liability insurance policy,” said Colby Trow of Virginia’s Mossy Creek Fly Fishing. “We currently pay around $1,500 per guide for coverage for a year. AFFTA’s outfitter option that allows us to cover multiple guides at a much lower cost is going to save us a TON of money. We’re looking forward to migrating our coverage to this new policy.”
In order to take advantage of this new group coverage, guides, outfitters and retailers that offer guide services will have to be a current AFFTA member. An annual membership for guides is $25.00 per person, with the annual membership for outfitters and retailers based on a percentage of total annual sales
For an AFFTA membership application, log on to http://www.affta.com/join-affta/and print and complete the form. Once the membership form is completed, the AFFTA staff will send out an insurance application. For more information or membership assistance, please contact Ben Bulis or Sarah Grigg at the American Fly Fishing Trade Association at (406) 522-1556 or at www.affta.com.
AFFTA’s mission is to promote the sustained growth of the fly fishing industry. We work to grow consumer demand for fly fishing goods and services, enhance the growth and professionalism of fly-fishing businesses, and support the protection, enhancement and restoration of fish and fish habitat.