Saturday, February 07, 2009

Outdoor Writers of Canada

© By Othmar Vohringer

A few weeks ago Peter Wood, author of Ripple Outdoors and Corporate Director of the Outdoor Writers of Canada, sent me an email. In the email Peter paid me a huge and for me humbling compliment by stating that he has read my blogs and thinks they are excellent. Then Peter asked, “Why are you not a member of the Outdoor Writers of Canada (OWC)?” I answered back, thanking him for his kind words and compliment and that I looked into joining the OWC a while back but don’t think that I measure up the professional standards after reading the requirements needed.

To cut a long story short the next email I received was signed by OWC Executive Director and Canadian outdoor celebrity T.J. Schwanky. The email stated that he received word from Peter and after looking at my blogs the OWC would be happy to have me as a member and that I would find attached to the e-mail a membership form.

I filled the membership form out but to complete the application process I had to find, as required by the regulations, a “membership sponsor”. The sponsor had to be an active member in good standing with the OWC. I asked Bill Otway, an award winning outdoor writer and conservationist who, like me, is also a member of the Nicola Valley Fish & Game Club, if he would be so kind to sponsor me.

To be honest, at the time I was not sure if he would sponsor me, because compared to Canadian outdoor celebrities like Perer Wood, T.J. Schawnky and Bill Otway among many others, I am a blank sheet of paper. Bill looked at me and said, “Of course I will sponsor you my friend. You deserve to be a member of the OWC.” With that he signed the form and wrote a nice comment with it as well. I sent the membership form and membership dues off five days ago and on Thursday I received an e-mail confirmation – letter confirmation and membership card will follow with regular mail - that I have been accepted as member of the OWC.

For me this is a proud moment in my outdoor life. The membership and assistance from all the other members will help me to become a better writer and provides me with another outlet to promote the conservation of our rich outdoor heritage to even more people.

To read or download the official press release visit my website

To learn more about Outdoor Writers of Canada visit.

Othmar Vohringer Outdoors
Founding Member of Outdoor Bloggers Summit

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Mel said...

Congratulations, Othmar, on another peak you have reached with your great blog and knowledge that you have provided for all of us who love the outdoors. The best of success to you.

Othmar Vohringer said...

Thank you Mel. The membership in the OWC will encourage me to do better.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Funny, I've had a similar experience with POMA (the Professional Outdoor Media Association), where several people told me I should join, but I looked at the membership standards and didn't fit because I'm not making a living doing this.

In another case, a non-profit whose magazine I write for couldn't enter my work in a contest sponsored by one of these associations because the magazine didn't pay me (duh - I donate my work - it's a non-profit).

POMA folks have now told me exactly how I can qualify so I'm planning to join, which is nice.

And I'm glad these associations value the contributions of bloggers. But perhaps it's time they change their membership rules to reflect our legitimate contributions and make it a little easier for us to join.

wandering owl said...

Congrats, Othmar! Don't sell yourself short. Share your passion. The majority of us dream about writing about the outdoors where it will be read outside of our closest freinds.
Good luck!

Othmar Vohringer said...

I looked at POMA too and in the future when I work up the credentials will join them too. I think to make a living of writing it is helpful to join a outdoor specific organization as they can and will open many doors and avenues that otherwise are much harder to get into.

I understand what you’re saying about the requirements and blogs. However, I also can see their point of view. To appear professional it is necessary to have some system in place that stipulates what a professional writer is. Currently the only system that seems to work is proof of generating a certain amount of income with writing.

The Outdoor Writers of Canada have a point system. Each year every member has to get the points necessary to qualify. Points can be earned from paid articles, columns and by-line sales. But also paid radio or TV broadcasts, seminars and other outdoor specific activities that could be summarized in “communication” and for which payment has been received.

Most blogs do not make a living of writing. Therefore it would need a different system for bloggers to join a professional organization. I hope that in a few years professional outdoor writer organization can come up with a system to accommodate blogs too. Meanwhile we have the OBS and who knows if we keep at it the OBS will become for bloggers what the POMA and OWC is for outdoor writers.


NorCal Cazadora said...


I actually went through this exercise myself as a founder and president of a national statehouse reporters' group. We had to figure out how to keep out the riffraff.

It's just that now I'm on the side of presumed riffraff, it's ... irritating!

Also, I think there are some practical filters here. If you can keep a blog going for more than a year, and therefore maintain your desire to pay the hefty annual dues of these organizations, you probably have a measure of legitimacy.

And belatedly, congratulations on your recognition. From the perspective of one of your readers, it's a no-brainer to me, but I also know it's really nice to be appreciated and recognized.

Othmar Vohringer said...

Thank you for your kind words Wandering Owl. It’s very tough to earn a living from writing alone. To make ends meet writers have to branch out and do other related stuff too, like seminars, product promotion, broadcasting on radio and TV to name a few things. To get a foot in the door it is almost required to join a reputable organization like the OWC or POMA that can help to open doors, provide further education at affordable fees and of course there is a network of professionals available to share experiences and knowledge. Like anything else in life, communication is an ongoing learning process and I need a lot more to learn.


Othmar Vohringer said...

NorCal Cazadora “…And belatedly, congratulations on your recognition. From the perspective of one of your readers, it's a no-brainer to me, but I also know it's really nice to be appreciated and recognized…”

Now with that right there you made me blush. Folks, for those few of you who do not know NorCal Cazadora is a professor, teaching journalism (I hope I got that right). If the truth shall be known you’re one of my secret teachers. I read and reread all of your articles, study your sentence and paragraph structure to learn from it. As a non-English speaker I have to leap at every opportunity to improve my writing skills and you’re one of these opportunities. With that said, your compliment is very humbly appreciated.


NorCal Cazadora said...

Wow, now I'M blushing! Thanks :-)

bushman said...

Hey, Othmar.
Yer riten s better n them falutin "outdoor" mags. I read you, not them any more (cept maybe fur-fish-game).
I'm a perfessional writer myself. I'm up ta bout 12 cents from Google ads...

Othmar Vohringer said...

Thank Bushman. The writing in the magazines is not entirely the fault of the writers. There is, in my opinion, a disturbing trend happening in hunting magazines that is going away from passing along useful tips and the popular Joe-and-me-stories in favor of science and high-tech reporting. It’s one reason why I gave given up reading hunting magazines too.

Here on my blog I can write what I want to write and I am glad you like it.


Adam said...

Congratulations Othmar! What a well desevrved accomplishment!

gary said...

I guess when you are looking at the upper levels, a person has a tendency to feel like a blank page. When I read you and NorCal thats the way I feel. Congratulation to you both, enjoy your writtings immensely.

Othmar Vohringer said...

Adam and Gary thank you for the kind words. It’s readers like you, and others, that makes writing a joy and encourages me to carry on and work on improving my skill, such as it is.


SimplyOutdoors said...

Congrats Othmar. That is quite an accomplishment.

Jeff Hunt said...

Congratulations from the lowcountry as well... That is a true honor to be included in such a prestigious group.

Rod McBellanic said...

Congratulations Othmar...very much deserved and they should be proud to have you represent them.

Othmar Vohringer said...

Arthur, Jeff and Rod, Thank you for the kind words and compliments you pay me I appreciate that very much.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Othmar. This is richly deserved and I think it's wonderful. Even in the time I've known you I've seen your writing take great strides forward. You do a marvelous job and I'm glad it has been recognized.

Othmar Vohringer said...

Thank you Kristine. Like NorCal Cazadora’s compliment yours too means a lot to me because you’re professional writers. I am glad you think my writing has improved and for that I pay Heidi homage for having the patience to sit down with me for hours and practice my English. At age 54 learning is not getting any easier.


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