Middle River Dispatches is a gumbo of posts about fly-fishing, conservation, politics and days afield.

Time to Join the OWAA

If you are an outdoor blogger you should join the Outdoor Writers of America Association.

My friend Chris Hunt’s recent post for the Outdoor Bloggers Network: “Outdoor Writers Association of America: Outdoor Bloggers Welcome” rekindled the notion of rejoining the OWAA and I submitted my application for membership shortly thereafter.

Since I am writing this post for my blog I am thrilled OWAA has opened the membership to qualified bloggers. More importantly I am delighted that my fellow outdoor bloggers can know take advantage of the myriad resources OWAA has to offer.

During my tenure at the Izaak Walton League of America I had been a member of OWAA, a venerated organization that dedicates itself to helping outdoor communicators improve their craft and the profession. When I left the League I let my membership lapse because I was not engaged as outdoor communicator enough to meet the requirements of membership. Having returned to the journalistic fold a few years ago I began to think I should rejoin but never seemed to get around to it. When I gave up my outdoor column at the News Virginian (Waynesboro), I dropped the idea.

I won’t repeat the many reasons Chris gave for joining, they are compelling in and of themselves. I will happily add my voice to his and say that as outdoor bloggers this is an important opportunity to improve your work and enhance the view of our corner of the blogging community.

Why should outdoor bloggers join?

Do you care about your craft as a blogger or do you just bang away at the keyboard and call it good?

Look at the OWAA’s mission “…to improve the professional skills of our members, set the highest ethical and communications standards, encourage public enjoyment and conservation of natural resources, and be mentors for the next generation of professional outdoor communicators.”

If you are passionate about the outdoors and see your blog fitting somewhere in that mission statement than join OWAA. You will join others who care about professional skills, ethics, conservation and mentoring others. You will benefit from shared experiences, going back 85 years, from the best outdoor communicators in the game.

Was that too highfalutin a reason for you? Do you want to make a little money as well?

For example, OWAA was an invaluable resource for me to find writers for the League’s magazine, Outdoor America. It was the best place to find writers on a wide range of topics. They were part of an organization with professional standards. As a blogger, if you want to be on that list of potential resources, join OWAA. You will be on the same list of the storied veterans of the genre.

Need help with your craft?

As Chris points out, “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.” If you want to build those relationships, join OWAA.

At the League I looked to OWAA members to get some different perspectives on policy issues or to keep a finger on the pulse of the views of outdoor community. After I left, and even today those OWAA members I met or communicated with still are important resources for getting a wider-angle view on issues. If you are looking for background information, help with understanding the complexities of a subject or need to see who has written what about it before, your fellow OWAA members are wonderful, credible resources.

Would you like to visit some trade shows?

The American Fly Fishing Trade Association and the American Sportfishing Association have combined trade shows this year. At a recent board meeting the issue of media credentials for bloggers came up. If you are a member of OWAA you will not have a problem getting media credentials for ICAST or IFTD. I can’t speak for other trade shows but I am sure you will have an easier time proving your bona fides for credentials if you are an OWAA member.

You will make OWAA better!

The outdoor blogger genre is still young but it is growing. You are the early adopters and first followers. As part of OWAA you will become the storied veterans who paved the way and mentored others. You will help sort out the conundrums that will surely face us. You can help OWAA continue its important mission and make outdoor blogging better by your efforts.



  1. Kirk Mantay says:

    I don’t know. I’ve been a blogger for 7 years and my blog (with over 600 legitimate, outdoor posts) generates 20,000 unique hits per month, and yet, OWAA literally would not have me for the last several years because I wasn’t a communications intern working for Mossy Oak. Color me unconvinced.

  2. Fontinalis Rising says:

    Very interesting. I’m still ruminating on this one.

  3. Kirk, can’t speak for OWAA, but send me an email with details if you want and I will happily ask Chris to check into it. I think you would be a great addition.

  4. If I can help with rumination, shoot me a note.

  5. I appreciate that, Tom. It’s an inclusiveness issue for me. It’s dramatic – near revolutionary – for an organization to move from “these people don’t count as writers” – the case in the previous 2 times I looked into OWAA membership – and suddenly embrace exactly that demographic of writers with the gusto I’m seeing. I write a whole lot about the outdoors, but it’s only part of my job. The blog is a wholly separate thing, and I sincerely lament the fact that during some big periods of growth as a writer, I couldn’t tap into the tremendous resource that is OWAA. To be fair, it has occurred to me that there I things I could be doing to help other new writers through some of those periods of growth – maybe in the veins in which I already work, or maybe from within OWAA. – Kirk

  6. Peter Patenaude says:

    Seems like a lot of money.

  7. Tom Sadler says:

    For me it is an investment in my business and the writing craft. For $12.50 a month it seems like a pretty good deal.

  8. For me it is an investment in my business and the writing craft. For $12.50 a month it seems like a pretty good deal.


  1. […] Time to Join the Outdoor Writers of America Association. Serious about your outdoor writing? Looks like a worthwhile group with some nifty benefits for members. […]

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