On Sunday, June 3, The Southwest Conservation Club was host to the Outdoor Writers Association of America’s (OWAA) 91st annual conference. With an attendance of over 170 media-related guests from throughout the United States, the ‘Breakout Day’ event at the Conservation Club in Waynedale was part of a three-day summit that boasts seminars, networking with other outdoor media professionals and testing state-of-the-art equipment.
The Conservation Club, 5703 Bluffton Rd. 46809, spruced up their 37 acres of preserved property and ponds leading up to the event, including repairing asphalt on their long driveway to the primary parking area, caretaker trailer refurbishment and a general prairie and grounds cleanup.
Tom McCutcheon, Club President commented, “Club members volunteered their time and worked very hard to make preparations and brush-up the grounds to present this old Club in the best way possible. It was an honor for the Club to be chosen to the host the national event, we wanted to provide guests a fantastic experience and show what the Club has to offer. It was also important to us, as representation of Fort Wayne, to make sure everything was perfect.”
In coordination with the event organizers of OWAA, guests of the conference were treated to many of the Club’s features, including a trap shooting experience, fishing and row-boating on the Club’s 4 ponds, a tour of the native Indiana prairie, a nature-trail walk and a presentation about pollinator education. Throughout the day, guests also had the opportunity to attend a variety of outdoor media-related lectures in the Clubhouse as well as to try out new outdoor products by various vendors.
Phil Bloom, OWAA president commented, “This is the first conference we’ve held in Indiana, we generally hold the conference in different areas of the country each year. Many of our members were impressed by what Fort Wayne had to offer. The Conservation Club was not the largest facility we’ve held the conference at in the past, but our guests thought it was cool because it was inside city limits and a short bus ride from their downtown hotel.”
According to their website, OWAA seeks to improve the professional skills of its 800 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.
“Early on, The Conservation Club seemed excited about the possibility of holding the event and then when the day came, really delivered to show our guests a great time. Two notable individuals form the Club, Eddie Coble and Bill Branstrator, went over and above to make everyone feel welcome, ” Bloom comented as he looked back on the success of the event.
“It was great to have the opportunity to pair our conservation efforts and appreciation for nature with the efforts of the media professionals from throughout the nation,” McCutcheon commented.