Four earn special recognition Sept. 16 during the concluding banquet at OWAA’s 86th Annual Conference

At its recent annual conference in Lake Placid, N.Y., the Outdoor Writers Association of America, The Voice of the Outdoors, honored four with its most distinguished awards.

Phil Bloom, of Fort Wayne, Ind., received the 2013 J. Hammond Brown Award. The award is OWAA’s most prestigious recognition of a member “for devoted past service to the organization over a period of continuous years.”

In presenting the award to Bloom, past recipient Rich Patterson said: “Some board work is visible, especially at conferences, but many tasks must be completed at home. Sometimes they are difficult. On a couple of occasions Phil stepped in to prevent what could have become significant organizational problems.

“Back in 2006 my wife and I had packed our car and were ready to head for Bismarck, N.D., where I’d end my year as president. It had been a snowy winter followed by a rainy spring … The Corps of Engineers told the residents of Cedar Rapids not to worry. Then seven inches of torrential rain fell in a couple of hours. The river surged 13 feet higher than ever recorded … We still thought we could make the OWAA conference. Then one bridge went out. Then another and another. Finally only one bridge remained and the National Guard only let emergency vehicles cross the river. We couldn’t leave town. We weren’t going to the OWAA conference. I called Phil and told him I was in a bind. ‘No problem, Rich. I’ll handle it. Do what you can to help flood victims.’ So, with almost no notice Phil did my jobs, and then a year later in his year as president he did it all again.”

Glenn Sapir, of Putnam Valley, N.Y., received OWAA’s 2013 Excellence in Craft Award. The award honors an OWAA member “for outstanding effort in upholding the OWAA Creed and continued excellence in craft.”

An OWAA member since 1975, Sapir is director of editorial services for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a post he has held for the past 10 years. He directs, edits and writes articles on a regular basis for trade, association and consumer magazines, and he writes and edits NSSF’s monthly electronic Member News and The Range Report, as well as its quarterly First Shot News and its Annual Review. Sapir previously worked in editor positions for Outdoor Life, Sports Afield, and Field and Stream. When he joined the staff at Field and Stream, Sapir was one of only three to have served as editor on all the famous “Big Three.” From there, he left to form Ashmark Communications before eventually joining the team at NSSF. He is a past president of OWAA, was twice elected by his peers as Outstanding Board Member and also received the association’s great J. Hammond Brown Award, and is a several-times national writing and photography winner.

Shannon Tompkins, of Houston, Texas, received the 2013 Jade of Chiefs Award. The Jade of Chiefs Award was first established in 1958 as OWAA’s top conservation award. Although only OWAA members are eligible, it is not actually presented by the organization, but by past award winners, who are known as the Circle of Chiefs. Only these members of the Circle can nominate a new member and can vote. The Circle is recognized as the OWAA’s conservation conscience and policy spokesman.

In announcing this year’s award, past recipient Michael Furtman cited Tompkins’ “dogged determination to educate the public on the conservation and environmental challenges, losses and victories. It is in his blood. He could no more NOT care about nature than he could stop breathing. Such determination has in many cases meant he was less than popular with his editors or supervisors – speaking the truth can sometimes do that.” Furtman went on to say, “Far from a hook-and-bullet writer (which [Tompkins] also does with great aplomb), he covers natural resources like no one else in the state, and few in the nation.”

Paul Queneau, of Missoula, Mont., received the 2013 Outstanding Board Member Award. A member since 2007, he is conservation editor for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s Bugle Magazine.

Aside from being active on several committees before and now as a member of OWAA’s board, Queneau has been instrumental in the growing success of Off the Record, an informal monthly gathering of outdoor media individuals from across western Montana. His energy and devotion to the association has also proved beneficial in the founding of a student chapter of OWAA at the University of Montana in Missoula.

“He listens to others and then is thoughtful about what he says about issues,” said Bill Graham, president of the OWAA board of directors. “He’s willing to tackle chores that take up his spare time. One of the best and brightest board members I’ve ever worked with, and a great guy.”

Logo courtesy Outdoor Writers Association of America

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