The Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA), of which I am a member, held its annual conference in the aforementioned city of Casper in May 2022. OWAA is the nation’s largest and oldest association of outdoor communicators.
The OWAA was founded in 1927 when six writers attending a conference in Chicago decided to create the largely “writing” organization as this prefaced television, and radio was still evolving. These early pioneers of outdoor media wanted to create a communicators platform to promote and inspire existing and emerging media creators. Today, the nonprofit educational and professional organization boasts more than 600 outdoor communicators and 100 supporting corporation partners. As the media arena evolved, so did the membership of the organization. Today’s members include an array of writers, publishers, broadcasters, photographers, digital content creators, film and video producers, and artists.
With more than 175 in total attendance, the 2022 conference included 84 individual media members, 10 keynote speakers, more than two dozen potential members, supporting groups and staff.
Attendees had the opportunity to take advantage of pre- and post-conference outings to experience the wild side of the area through mountain biking, fishing, hiking and paddling.
At the onset of the conference, Mother Nature decided to show up and greeted attendees with a climatic change peppering the landscape with a light dusting of snow and a temperature drop into the 30s.
But hey, this was a convergence of outdoor writers who embrace the best and worst that the outdoor environment has to share.
Over the course of the conference, we were able to attend seminars on writing, photography and book publishing (something I knew little about but was innately curious). Panel discussions, presentations and other speakers provided an in-depth look at the industry (past, present and future). Aside from the plethora of information that abounded, there were ample opportunities to explore local restaurants and breweries, the varied history of the area and the outdoor amenities. And at the end of the day, it was a great opportunity to network with fellow communicators in a laid back atmosphere.
And while I have traveled to Wyoming on numerous occasions, this was my first foray into this central part of the state. Casper, named after Lieutenant Caspar Collins who was killed near the site of Fort Caspar, was integral in early western pioneer migration. When the city was established, the name was misspelled and it now bears an “e” instead of an additional “a.” This area provided an intersection for the Oregon, Mormon, California and the Pony Express Trails. However, long before European settlers arrived, the North Platte River valley was home to a multitude of Native American tribes including the Shoshone, Arapahoe, Utes, Lakota and Cheyenne. In the 19th century, oil was king and the population grew in response to this valuable resource. Today, the oil boom has diminished, though mining, oil/extraction and quarrying still remain a viable industry in the state’s second-largest city.
For fellow outdoor journalists (or aspiring communicators), the 2023 OWAA conference will be held in Gulf Shores, Alabama in September.
Also, there’s no better way to leverage the organization’s quiver of top outdoor communicators than by becoming a supporting member. Click HERE for more information.