2016 Annual Meeting/Conference

VOWA 2016 Annual Meeting/Conference
Saturday, March 12  2016
Holiday Inn, 
Augusta County
Staunton VA

The 2016 VOWA Annual Meeting/Conference, held at the Holiday Inn and Conference Center in Staunton was a big success!  Getting together with old friends, new members and guests, outstanding presentations, corporate member displays, networking, introductions of inspiring young people who are our future stewards and writers, recognizing excellence in the work of our colleagues, a delicious awards luncheon, and a productive business meeting made for a most enjoyable and informative day!

We thank all our sponsors who contributed to making this meeting so outstanding, a complete list is below. In particular we are grateful to the Greater Augusta Regional Tourism for their grant that made it possible to meet in the Staunton area. VOWA is developing a soft spot for Staunton and Augusta County and we hope to return. Also to Dominion Resources for a grant that not only supported the VOWA Collegiate Contest, but also played a big part in enabling VOWA to offer a wonderful celebratory and informative Annual Meeting.

We thank our outstanding 2015 speakers…

Randy FergusonRANDY FERGUSON, Director of Marketing and Communications for Ernst Seeds, will be speaking on the art of Blogging and opportunities for writers and photographers with corporate/supporting member companies. Presentation Title: “Role Reversal: Promoting Your Product via Corporate/Supporting Members” 

Randy Ferguson has been a communications, public relations and marketing executive since graduating from Penn State University in 1994 with a bachelor’s degree in Communications. He has been director of communications & marketing for Ernst Conservation Seeds in Meadville, Pa. since 2013.

Randy serves as a supporting member representative to VOWA, POWA, OWO, NYSOWA, NEOWA, AGLOW, SEOPA and OWAA.and is an active member of the Public Relations Society of America and the Agricultural Marketing Association.  An avid sportsman he is the Crawford and Mercer County Coordinator for Hunters Sharing The Harvest™, and founded the United Way Bass Classic Team Tournament in 2006.

An accomplished freelance outdoor writer and photographer himself, Randy’s credits include Pennsylvania Magazine, Hunting & Fishing Digest, Pennsylvania Game News, Fish and Field Report, Pennsylvania Afield, Bowhunter, Keystone Outdoors, The Business Journal, Greenville Record-Argus, Meadville Tribune, Erie Times-News and contributed content to the book Civility in Business and Professional Communication, by Rod Troester and Cathy Sargent-Mester in 2007.

Randy and wife Monica live in their hometown of Greenville, PA. They have two children at home; and a married daughter who lives in Charleston, SC with her husband and two daughters.

Kirchgessner - webMEGAN KIRCHGESSNER, DVM, Wildlife Veterinarian for DGIF
Dr. Kirchgessner. PresentationTitle: “The Dynamic Nature of Wildlife Diseases: Challenges and Triumphs for Outdoor Writers”

Dr. Kirchgessner is the State Wildlife Veterinarian for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. She obtained her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine at the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine in 2005 and has practiced as a wildlife rehabilitation, small animal emergency, and exotic animal veterinarian.  Dr. Kirchgessner obtained her PhD at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry in 2012, where her research focused on the transmission of bovine viral diarrhea virus and Coxeilla burnetii between white-tailed deer and domestic livestock.  As the Virginia State Wildlife Veterinarian, Megan has worked on a wide variety of wildlife health-related issues, including chronic wasting disease surveillance, fish health management at state trout hatcheries, elk restoration, and development of humane wildlife handling and euthanasia protocols.

smlstriper larger web copyVOWA’s MARK TAYLOR, Eastern Communications Director for Trout Unlimited, 16 years on the outdoor beat at the Roanoke Times, and former OWAA President.
Presentation Title: “Outdoor Writing Today”

This talk will focus on how outdoor communication has evolved over the past two decades  and where it is headed. You will also hear about TU, fishing, and some story opportunities!

Mark Taylor grew up in rural Southern Oregon, and spent four years as an officer in the U.S. Navy based in Norfolk, Va., after graduating from Northwestern University in Illinois. He entered the journalism field after leaving active duty in the early 1990s, and moved to Roanoke in 1998 to cover the outdoors for The Roanoke Times. He joined the national staff at Trout Unlimited in the spring of 2014. In addition to his work for TU, he does some freelance writing and photography, and is a frequent contributor to Petersen’s Bowhunting magazine. He is a passionate angler and hunter, and also an avid runner and triathlete who has finished two Ironman triathlons. He lives in Roanoke with his wife and their teen-aged twin daughters — his favorite partners during adventures afield.

VOWA also expresses deep gratitude to the following organizations for their generous donations and support of our efforts at this Annual Meeting:


Alpen Outdoor Corporation
Appalachian Mountain Advocates
Bass Pro Shops

Black Powder Products-CVA
Cooperative Living Magazine
Dominion Resources
Ernst Conservation Seeds
Fly Fishers of Virginia

Gogal Publishing Company

Gordon Barlow

Greater Augusta Regional Tourism
Hi Mountain Seasonings
Hunt’s Video and Photo
Madison County Tourism

Majarov Photography
Mossy Creek Fly Fishing

Navionics, Inc.

U.S. Bureau of Land Management

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries


Thank you to the individual VOWA Members donating items to the auction. Your generous contributions are greatly appreciated.

And to our Contest Judges, the success of our competitions fall on your shoulders and we are most grateful for all the time and energy you give to ensuring we choose the most deserving winners.