July, 2018

VOWA 2018 Elk Tour Announced:
September 28 & 29, 2018!

“Excitement is in the air, or maybe it’s the bugling I hear” says Lynda Richardson, VOWA member and the Art Director for DGIF’s Virginia Wildlife Magazine, “but we’ve got an exciting trip lined up for the membership this fall — a tour in southwestern Virginia to view the state’s growing elk herd.”

Photo ©Lynda Richardson

Lynda and DGIF have indeed set up a fabulous event for VOWA members September 28 & 29 at the lovely Breaks Interstate Park deep in Southwestern VA,near the Virginia/Kentucky border. In addition to gorgeous elk we will likely see deer, coyotes, foxes, cottontails, and various bird species.  There will be a guide for each trip into the elk area. Saturday the 29th will offer a lunchtime gathering with presentations about the elk project. Our speakers will be David Kalb, Elk Project Leader for DGIF, (12:30 -1:30) and Leon Boyd, DGIF Board member and elk advocate who worked with the local community and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to facilitate bringing elk to Virginia (1:45 – 2:30.)  This event will be a rich opportunity for  some great stories and photographs!

Download: Full Event Details including how to make reservations! Don’t delay, this is an event not to be missed!

Photo ©Lynda Richardson/DGIF










May 2018

Spring Fling 2018

Our 9th Annual Spring Fling was held May 23, 2018 at the lovely home of VOWA member Jennifer and her husband Thurman Hensley. A big success, a great time was had by all in attendance. You can read about all the fun, camaraderie, great activities and delicious meals in Chairman Frank Mundy’s wonderful event report.

VOWA wishes to thank Jennifer and Thurman for opening up their lovely home and Blue Ridge Mountain property to welcome VOWA and guest MDOWA members. We also thank Frank & Linda Mundy for all their organizational efforts and time to make the Spring Fling such this event such a terrific annual occasion.


July-August, 2017

Summer Sizzle! August 3, 2017

Join fellow VOWA members and their guests Thursday, August 3, 2017, at Jennifer and Thurman Hensley’s beautiful home near Grottoes, Virginia.  Rain date is Saturday, August 5, 2017.

Jennifer and Thurman’s vast mountain land joins the Shenandoah National Park which, in addition to a wonderful place to meet, also allows for all types of outdoor activities. As in the past there will be many outdoor activities available including but not limited to informative mountain walk, open 250 foot firing range, and competition in using the humorous and infamous info-commercial egg peeling contraption.

The pastime of sitting around the campfire sharing a tale or two will be expanded with members playing musical instruments.  Jennifer requests if anyone has any type of musical instrument from small to large to please bring it.

Joe Byers, President of MDOWA, is bringing ALPS camping gear from Browning to set up for display so if you decide you want to add work to your pleasure, you may even get an article out of the day. Gear will include two camp chairs and two tents, one 10X12 and the other 10X15!

Please R.S.V.P. to either Jennifer Hensleyjennifer@trayfoot.com or me Frank Mundy- mundyfg@yahoo.com by July 28th so that we will know how much food to prepare.

Download: Full schedule details for the Sizzle

Jennifer & Thurman Hensley
100 Springs Oak Lane
Grottoes, Virginia 24441-5031
540-476-1789(Directions: GPS will take you right there or get directions from Map Quest

October 2016

4139 Sugar Maple LeavesVOWAVOWA Fall Event 2016 – Workshop & Lunch

Our President, Tee Clarkson has arranged a special invitation to a workshop with the James River Writers on October 15!  Following the event will be an informal lunch for VOWA Members.

James River Writers would like to extend a very special offer to the members of the Virginia Outdoor Writers Association during our 14th annual conference the weekend of Oct.14-16.

On October 15, your members have the opportunity to attend one panel and engage an award-winning journalist in one-on-one advice for the ticket price of $40. The panel is on Saturday, October 15, from 11:15-Noon, and appointment times would be 16 minutes long and scheduled around that session.

Writing Nonfiction that SELLS: From the Pitch to Perfection
Sponsored by Editor World
Panelists: Dean King, Katie Kotchman, Jessica Lahey
Moderator: Phaedra Hise
Hear from an agent who handles predominantly nonfiction, and from two nonfiction book writers who have been very successful, on how to write a nonfiction proposal that sells, and how to write a book that speaks to your audience. What are some things nonfiction writers get wrong? How do you navigate including your research without boring your readers? How can your blog lead to a book? From pitch to finished product, learn from the pros how to write nonfiction that keeps your readers engaged.

For the consultation:  Phaedra Hise will offer feedback on your article idea or written pitch, help you brainstorm possible markets, and give you expert tips to prepare your pitch to send off to the editors. As a freelance writer and editor, Phaedra explores the trends and drama inherent in entrepreneurship, business, adventure, food and drink. She is the author of five nonfiction books and is a former contributor to CNN Money, former Staff Writer for Inc. and current Food Editor for Virginia Living. Phaedra has been the online editor for Inc., Senior Editor for Colloquy and Executive Editor for Edible Richmond. Her award-winning work has been anthologized and published in the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Glamour, Salon, Forbes, Popular Mechanics and Smithsonian. Her most recent book is The Secret Life of Hoarders. 

For more information about the conference see jamesriverwriters.org.

To register for this panel and the consultation, use this VOWA specific link: http://weblink.donorperfect.com/JRWC16VOWA

Your VOWA Board looks forward to seeing you at this event and the lunch following. Please remember to sign up at the link given by the James River Writers AND PLEASE also let Marie Majarov know if you are attending so we know how many will be present and if you are also interested in joining us for an informal lunch at a nearby restaurant (each person pays for his own lunch) following the workshop as an opportunity for us to get together, visit and discuss what we have learned… and get caught up on what we are all doing. Thank you Tee and James River Writers! 

September 2016

VOWA/Cooperative Living Magazine Collegiate Winner Honored! 

Sept16Cover-smIf you have not already done so, please check out the September 2016 Cooperative Living Magazine where our 2015-2016 Winner is the feature story! Be sure to read Bill Sherrod’s excellent column about Outdoor Writing on page 1 and the full cover story pages 15-17. Enjoy!

Thank you Bill Sherrod and Cooperative Living Magazine!

May 2016

Spring Fling 2016!

Story by Frank Mundy
Photos by Marie Majarov

Spring Fling 2013The Seventh Annual Spring Fling came together on May 17th, 2016 at member Jennifer and Thurman Hensley’s home. Their beautiful home is complemented with abundant wildlife, native floral and old age forest and is located adjacent to the Shenandoah National Park.

I would like to set the scene for those not able to attend as to what the attendees enjoyed. The day officially started at 10:30 AM with freshly brewed coffee, Danish rolls and many other assorted desserts. In addition, Thurman had a successful Spring Turkey Season and the fresh baked biscuits were complemented with wild turkey tenders.

Jennifer Hensley

Jennifer Hensley

The morning flew by and the group separated to pursue different activities on the properties: many enjoyed a wild herb walk led by naturalist Jennifer Hensley, some chose sport shooting on the firing range and others simply enjoyed time around the campfire near the fish pond.

Bill Funk

Bill Funk

Around 2 PM lunch was served consisting of steamed shrimp, corn on the cob, assorted vegetables, many salads and desserts. After sharing lots of delicious food and colorful stories the group broke for a new activity.

The new activity consisted of competition using an infra-commercial egg peeling contraption. Member Frank Mundy colorfully described his attempts to use this WACKA-MOLE type contraption at prior Spring Flings. (It seems he ordered this hard-boiled-egg peeling contraption off the T.V. during a sleepless night.) With great candor he again shared the results of his many attempts to peel dozens of hard-boiled eggs; each attempt resulting in smashed and scattered hard-boiled eggs.

With much fanfare Host Thurman Hensley was the first to attempt to peel a hard-boiled egg with this contraption. Much to everyone’s shock (especially Frank Mundy) Thurman was able to successfully peel the egg with one hard stroke of the WACKA-MOLE peeler. Laughing, everyone got in line to attempt to copy Thurman’s success. With all of their enthusiasm no one, including Thurman, was ever able to successfully peel another egg that day. So Thurman was crowned 2016 WACKA-MOLE Champion.

Mountain Laurel

Mountain Laurel

Supper was soon started and consisted of many foods cooked over the fire including the infamous “Mountain Pies”. While waiting for the food, the group sang some funny songs.

In closing, many VOWA members and a number of potential new members had a great time sharing the camaraderie of the Spring Fling. As everyone was leaving as darkness set in, all were sharing that they were “So looking forward to next year’s Fling.”

March 2016

VOWA Presents the 2015-2016 Collegiate Honorable Mention Winners!

In addition to the winners announced at our 2016 Annual meeting and presented on our Collegiate Winners Showcase, this year VOWA also awarded  7 Honorable Mentions for Outstanding work. These talented student are proudly presented here.  Enjoy their beautiful images and outstanding essays.

Essay Awards

Lauren Bowman: “The Kayak”
Honorable Mention in the VOWA/Dominion Resources Collegiate Undergraduate Best Outdoor Essay Catagory

Lauren’s  lovely essay was inspired by a visit to a chain of barrier islands off the coast of Florida.  She hails from Virginia Tech, Blacksburg VA and grew up in Pulaski County Virginia in a rural area outside the town of Dublin, with the Jefferson National Forest in her backyard. In May Lauren received a degree in Wildlife Conservation and her goal is to pursue a PhD studying human-wildlife conflicts and animal behavior.

Jessica York “Alone in Nature”
First Honorable Mention, VOWA/Cooperative Living Magazine Collegiate Special Award

1794 Jerssica York copy

Jessica is a Virginia Tech, Blacksburg VA, junior majoring in Wildlife Conservation.  In her essay Jessica writes about a beautiful experience hiking to the Cascade Falls in the Cascade National Recreation Trail in the Jefferson National Forest near to the VT campus.  Jessica is passionate about conservation and wants to include animals and nature into her career so that she may continue to learn about the natural world.

Melissa Skirkanich: “The Mountain Man”

Second Honorable Mention VOWA/Cooperative Living Magazine Collegiate Special Award

Mel Skirkanich - Copy

Also a junior at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg VA, Melissa’s essay,  recounted a sunrise climb to McAfee Knob…“one experience that every Hokie should do before he or she graduates.” Melissa is studying Wildlife Conservation and Multimedia Journalism and would like to pursue a career that combines her passion for conservation, writing and interacting with people.

Honorable Mentions VOWA/Hunt’s Best Collegiate Outdoor Photo:

Moses Bunting, Lord Fairfax Community College, Middletown VA

2014 Virginia Wildlife Photography ContestMoses won for a superbly lit photo of the internal, architectural structure of Meems Bottom covered Bridge in Shenandoah County. Moses, a student of VOWA’s own Rob and Ann Simpson, nationally known photographers, in the LFCC Nature, Outdoor, and Wildlife Photography Certification program …reports that he has been inspired “not only in the art and science of photography, but in the natural wonders we have at our fingertips here in the Shenandoah Valley.”

Sidney Clinevell, Ferrum College, Ferrum VA

IguanaIguana - WebA biology major, Sidney entered an amazing Iguana image taken during a college experiential-term in the U.S. Virgin Islands. In her well composed image the Iguana takes on a prehistoric look! A May graduate, Sidney plans on doing some field research of various types while determining what course of study to pursue in graduate school.  She would love to be able to educate the public about conservation of endangered species while studying these species in their natural habitat and “in some way, to improve the quality of the world we live in.”

Christopher “C.A.M.” Gerlach, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg VA

Hawk at Sunset


A hawk image captured at sunset right in his own back yard! A junior, C.A.M. tells us that he is a double major in meteorology and geography.  He also has concentrations in statistics, computer science, and mathematics with a strong interest in computer modeling, data analytics, and the social and societal impacts of severe weather. He plans to go into the research arena upon completion of a PhD, and hopes to be able to integrate his photo and video experience into his work. C.A.M. has long enjoyed the outdoors and has “never ceased to marvel at the wonder of nature, as fragile as it sometimes can be.” 

Christina Nelson, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg VA

A returning student to our VOWA Competition, Christina was our 2014-2015 VOWA/Dominion Resources Best Overall Entry Winner. This year she shines with a stunning image of a falconer and his eagle which captures the connection and commitment between falconer and bird. Christina, a sophomore majoring in wildlife conservation works with black bears at the Virginia Tech Black Bear Research Center. Her hopes of combining her art and science are coming together as she also works on special projects in the comparative anatomy lab. Christina hopes to “incorporate my artistic view of the world into research, outreach and education as I pursue my scientific interests.”

Congratulations to all our Honorable Mention Winners and Thank You to our Sponsors: Dominion Resoures, Cooperative Living Magazine, and Hunt’s Photo & Video!


January 2016

Tidewater Oyster Gardeners Association Announces Writing Contest  Winners!

VOWA was a proud supporter of the Tidewater Oyster Gardeners Association (TOGA) 2016 Youth Writing Contest “Consider the Oyster.” VOWA believes very strongly in the importance of encouraging young people to write about the outdoors and such critical environmental topics as the oyster. The contest was directed by our own Terry Lewis who is a dedicated advocate of young people and outdoor writing. Read the outstanding winning essays of this contest HERE and more about the Oyster Gardeners organization at oystergardeners.org.

In the photo, L to R, Terry Lewis (judge and contest organizer), Hannah Rosenburg, Connie Johnson, Parker Cruz, Catherine Tadlock, Judy Spain (judge), Vic Spain (judge)

In the photo, L to R, Terry Lewis (judge and contest organizer), Hannah Rosenburg, Connie Johnson, Parker Cruz, Catherine Tadlock, Judy Spain (judge), Vic Spain (judge)


March 2015

Ed Felker’s EIC Award Announced at Project Healing Waters 

Ed Felker WebsitePlease check out the great Press Release from Project Healing Waters about our Ed Felker’s 1st Place EIC Award for his Featuire Story “Medicine for the Soul” at Project Healing Waters.

Congratulations Ed, good to see you being honored, well deserved! This is also a great recognition for VOWA and we hope it will bring increased interest in entering our EIC and also attaracting new members to our organization.

For more news on our March 21 conference , EIC, Collegiate, and High School Winners please see our Conference page and Winners showcacses.



October 2015

Annual 2015 Fall Event: VCU Rice Center

6201 Rice Center 72ppiOur Annual Fall adventure, this year a tour and lunch at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Rice Rivers Center was fabulous! A perfect fall day, glorious colors, and a warm, gracious welcome by the faculty of VCU’s unique, world class field station focused on research to advance the restoration and management of coastal river systems.

6188 Rice Center 72ppiThe center is set on 500 acres with 2 km of river frontage on our nation’s founding river …the James.  A center for the collection of “big data” and eco-informatics on this very special river system, VCU’s Rice Center also educates undergraduate, graduate  and  post doctoral students,  produces significant research and publications as well as public programs to introduce children of the community to the experience nature and rivers.

Faculty members Dr. Leonard Smock Director VCU Rice Center, Dr. Greg Garman Director of Environmental Studies,  Dr. Ed Crawford Wetland Ecology, Cathy Viverette River Research Associate, River & Avian Ecology, Catherine Dahl Director of Development and Special Projects VCU Life Sciences, and Sarah Hale Assistant Director Communications and Alumni relations all made presentations to the VOWA group about the centers mission, cutting edge research, new technological applications, conservation and habitat restoration for protected and iconic living resources such as Atlantic sturgeon and oysters, wetlands restoration, and the prothonotary warbler project – which partners with Audubon all the way to the birds winter home in Panama, a great opportunity for both faculty and students to study the whole life cycle.  Students were also on hand to describe their research efforts and very much impressed VOWA members!

VCU Rice Rivers CenterThe “Green” aspects of the Center’s LEED Platinum building, the first in our commonwealth were detailed by Dr. Smock to the members amazement. For instance: a green roof, denim as insulation, sorghum walls, sunflower closets,  geothermal heating, prism glass that magnifies light, numerous creative energy saving mechanisms, rain water collection and use, and beautiful locally milled cedar from the trees cut down when the building site was prepared…just to name a few!

Dr. Smock, Catherine Dahl, and VOWA's Robert Thomas.

Dr. Smock, Catherine Dahl, and VOWA’s Robert Thomas.

Dr. Greg Garman talks about sturgeon, algae blooms, and oysters in a visit to the VCU fishing pier.

Dr. Greg Garman talks about sturgeon, algae blooms, water quality, and oysters in a visit to the VCU fishing pier.

Cathy Viverette points out what can be seen along the river viewed from the fishing pier.

Cathy Viverette talks about river ecology and points out what can be seen along the river viewed from the fishing pier.

Dr. Ed Crawford points out elements of the wetland restoration, an area once an impoundment created by and earthen dam.

Dr. Ed Crawford points out elements of the wetland restoration, an area once an impoundment created by and earthen dam.

Jennifer Hensley holding a rough green snake found by a student at the wetland bank.

Jennifer Hensley holding a rough green snake found by a student at the wetland bank.










Beautiful views and so much to see everywhere one looked. The wetland restoration and the plants catalogued there by students were incredible!

VCU Rice Rivers Center

Upon arrival VOWA was welcomed  with coffee and bagels on the veranda where we enjoyed a spectacular view of the James and Rice property which was donated to VCU by Inger Rice, wife of US Ambassador to Australia, Walter L. Rice. Lunch was delicious and served on the patio so we could enjoy the lovely weather. Chatting throughout the day between VOWA members and faculty made opportunities for great questions/answers and outstanding learning.

Thank you VCU Rice Rivers Center Faculty & Students!

Images ©Marie & Milan Majarov

 May 2015

Spring Fling  May 20, 2014

Spring Fling 2013A wonderful time was had by all at VOWA’s 5th Annual Spring Fling. A HUGE “Thank you” to everyone that made this year’s Fling so enjoyable.  Most especially Jenifer and Thurman Hensley for opening their beautiful Blue Ridge Mountain property to VOWA and to Frank Mundy for organizing such a fine and delicious event!

March 2014

King Montgomery Moves to Maine

VOWA sends best wishes to King and Elizabeth for a fabulous retirement in Maine. It sounds wonderful!  King, you have contributed a lot to the VOWA organization over the years and we thank you. We will look forward to reading great stories and seeing stunning photos from New England!

Dear Fellow Outdoor Communicators,
Elizabeth and I are movingKing Montgomery to Kennebunkport, Maine in Mid-March 2014 on her retirement. I plan on keeping my VOWA and M-DOWA memberships and hope to stay in touch with many of you in the coming years. My email address remains the same as in the membership directories. I shall miss Virginia dearly, but look forward to a new phase in life with Elizabeth in a very special place.
Best always,  King   

March 2013


The Official Newsletter of the Virginia Outdoor Writers Association, Inc.

Published 2-3 times per year, VOWA NEWS is an exciting, expanding, full-color e-publication.  Editors Robert Thomas and Nancy Sorrells welcome submissions.  All text submissions should be in a MS Word document and all photographs in JPEG format, both sent as attachments to: rtphotography@comcast.net.  

Extra Special Joint VOWA/M-DOWA Conference Edition Newsletter!

Conference Newsletter Part1
Conference Newsletter Part2

We hope you enjoy this extra special joint edition of the VOWA News and Mason-Dixon Line! Filled with terrific conference stories and images, it is a celebration of the fabulous time our organizations enjoyed in the beautiful queen city of the Shenandoah Valley, Staunton, and the surrounding Waynesboro and Augusta County area. The final article is a beautiful, not to be missed conference wrap piece up by our talented Nancy Sorrells. Thank you Editor Robert Thomas for another outstanding newsletter!

2013 Conference Press Release Downloads:

2012-2013 Winners VOWA/Dominion Collegiate Undergraduate Writing Contest

2102-2013 Winners VOWA/Bass Pro High School Writing Contest

Shenandoah University Professor & Students honored at Joint 2013 MDOWA – VOWA Conference


An Archive of past newsletters is in preparation for this page.