MISSOULA, Mont. – Citing the safety of its membership as its primary concern, on Monday, April 20, 2020, the Board of Directors of the Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA) voted unanimously to postpone the organization’s 2020 conference scheduled to be held at the end of June at Vermont’s Jay Peak Resort.
The board unanimously voted to make Jay Peak Resort in Vermont the 2021 conference location. Currently the 2021 conference is scheduled for July 9-12.
“We came to this decision after vigorous discussion and consideration of the short-term and long-term implications. Uncertainty over the future of travel in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak and its impact led us to conclude that proceeding with the conference would not be responsible and it would be in our members’ best interest to cancel,” said Tim Mead, OWAA President.
“While we are very disappointed to not have a conference this year, the health and well-being of our membership is, and always will be, our number one priority” said Mead.
Additional conference events including the organization’s board of directors election and the announcement of the annual Excellence in Craft award winners will take place virtually this year. Details will be announced in the coming weeks.
Jay Peak is a four-season resort in Northern Vermont, close to Canada and Burlington, Vermont.
Jay Peak is an outdoor person’s paradise and will make for an ideal host for OWAA. The staff there have been tremendous. We’ve been working with them for the past several months on conference planning activities, and they have been extremely accommodating. We are very appreciative of their work and, while are deeply disappointed that such a significant and exceptional global situation necessitated our having to cancel this year’s conference, we do look forward to our continued work with them,” said Chez Chesak, OWAA Executive Director.
The OWAA staff will now turn conference planning efforts to Jay Peak in 2021. Additionally, the OWAA board has appointed an ad hoc Online Content Development Committee to leverage thought leadership from members and industry partners through various digital platforms. The committee, along with OWAA staff, will explore new digital content offerings and virtual opportunities such as online workshops, webinars, seminars and expanded social media options for OWAA members.
“The conference is the highlight of the OWAA year, and our members look forward to the opportunity to learn of new techniques, listen and connect to industry leaders, and interact with other members and renew friendships. We know not having those in-person connections will be difficult, but we hope to use this as a time to expand our programs that deliver content to our membership, leveraging technology as a tool to help members stay informed and connected during this challenging time – and well into the future,” said Mead.
Options for 2022, including Snow Mountain Ranch in Winter Park, Colorado (the original host for 2021) are under review.
Recognized as “The Voice of the Outdoors,” OWAA is the nation’s largest organization of professional outdoor journalists. Its membership includes writers, photographers, videographers, radio and TV personalities, digital storytellers and artists. Formed in 1927, the nonprofit association’s mission is to improve the professional skills and opportunities of its members, set the highest ethical and communications standards, encourage public enjoyment and conservation of natural resources, and mentor the next generation of professional outdoor communicators. https://owaa.org