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OWAA Doubles Down on Next Generation of Outdoor Communicators; Announces Fellowship and Scholarship Winners

September 17, 2020

Missoula, Mont. (Wednesday, September 16) — Back-to-School is on the forefront of everyone’s mind right now, and it’s important to take a moment to recognize and support students and young professionals in the field of outdoor communications who are helping to shape the future of our sports, our industries and our world. With a renewed focus on helping elevate and connect all media in the outdoors, the nation’s premier organization of outdoor communicators announces its youth writing contest winners, scholarship and grant recipients.

Each year the Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA) proudly supports and encourages young creators and budding outdoorists to follow their passions and develop their craft through fellowships and grants.. This year for the Bodie McDowell Scholarship alone, OWAA is announcing eight winners awarding a total of $24,000 in scholarships. Additionally, through its annual Excellence in Craft contest, OWAA honored 65 professional journalists for their work in dozens of outlets. Those winners were announced during OWAA’s first-ever virtual annual conference in June.

Follow this link to the OWAA website for more information. Here for details on each of the three scholarship programs: Bodie McDowell Scholarship; John Madson Fellowship; Norm Strung Youth Writing Award. OWAA seeks to support and educate all outdoor communicators no matter their background or experience level -- and has a contest, program, or scholarship designed to support all levels and outdoor interests.

Named in honor of former OWAA President Bodie McDowell, these scholarships are awarded annually to three or more students. Each year is different, but individual awards range from $1,000 to $5,000. Recipients must be students of outdoor communications fields including print, photography, film, art, poetry or broadcasting; open to eligible undergraduate and graduate students.

// Andrew Dundas – University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
// Zack England – San Jose State University
// Delger Erdenesanaa – NYU
// Teresa Konechne – Maharishi International University
// Eric Lynch – North Arizona University
// Mattie Squire – Virginia Commonwealth University
// Benjamin Weaver – Kent State University

“Thank you for this incredible news! I just about had a cow when I read your email yesterday,” said Bodie McDowell Scholarship recipient Zack England of California. “This scholarship and membership to the OWAA are such amazing opportunities for a young writer such as me. I cannot thank you and your team enough for the generosity you've shown with this award. I am already dreaming up a cross-country bike tour to Vermont for the big conference next summer!”

Features $2,000 in total prizes awarded to the following:

// Junior Prose: Thanisha Chowdhury; Gabriel Appler; Sofie Fonseca
// Junior Poetry: Kaia Wootton; Demi Lavapies; Abby Bates
// Senior Prose: Sophia Samantaroy; Hannah Nguyen; Alex Zhai
// Senior Poetry: Olivia Lee; Nathan Phuong; Lauren Young

The John Madson Fellowship provides funding to both OWAA members and non-members to attend educational events or opportunities. The event attended can be the OWAA annual conference or some other, non-OWAA event. The John Madson Fellowship presented funds to help the following outdoor communications professionals and students:

// Jacqueline Kehoe, a freelance writer, to attend the OWAA annual conference
// Kelly McDonnell, of Ron Schara Productions, to attend a writing workshop
// Paul Nicolaus, freelance writer, to attend the OWAA annual conference
// Bel Spelman, of Middlebury College, to attend the OWAA annual conference

OWAA is experiencing a renaissance, with a renewed focus on the outdoor industry and human powered outdoor sports, in addition to its broader focus on helping elevate and connect all media in the outdoors, from the hunt and fish markets to bike, ski, trail, overlanding, paddling, and more. Currently the non-profit has more than 650 media members and nearly 130 supporting groups, with big plans for growth this year.


About OWAA
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. For more information, visit or email

For more information, contact:
Formidable Media
Scott Kaier, Public Relations Director