Welcome to the VOWA News Page! This is where VOWA event information will be posted as well as news items from our members: book publication & project announcements, awards received, requests for information or project help. A place for  communication and sharing!

Members send your announcements to Marie Majarov, VOWA Webmaster, mariemilanmajarov@gmail.com. Be sure to include an email or text number where you can be reached in your announcement copy. 

September 2020:

Marika L. Byrd
Photo: Meghan Marchetti/DWR

VOWA has sad news to share…

Marika L. Byrd, a long-time member of the Virginia Outdoor Writers Association (VOWA) passed away September 25, 2020. Marika  first became associated with VOWA over two decades ago through her volunteer work at the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, now the Department of Wildlife Resources. She then continued as a freelance writer, editor, and photographer. She served as a VOWA officer, including as secretary and treasurer, and as a board member for many years keeping our finances straight, maintaining our records and our first website.

In honor of her service, in 2013 at a joint annual meeting with the Mason-Dixon Outdoor Writers Association, VOWA presented Marika with a resolution granting her life membership, a rare honor in VOWA. Marika’s cheerful attitude, participation in events, and volunteer work ethic will be missed sorely at VOWA. 

For more details about this special member’s life please see her full obituary.




June 2020:

VOWA has sad news to share…

Bill Sherrod

William V. “Bill” Sherrod Jr., a long time member of VOWA passed away June 1, 2020, following a difficult, determined and courageous battle with pancreatic cancer.  Bill was a superb journalist and photographer.  A devoted advocate for rural Virginia and the electric cooperative community Bill served as editor of Cooperative Living magazine for 26 years.  Most of all he was a kind, caring man who loved his family and cared deeply about nature and the environment.

Bill was the driving force behind starting our Collegiate Cooperative Living Best Virginia Essay Award. This coveted award included publication of the essay, often as the cover story, and provided outstanding publicity for our VOWA contests. Bill (Senior Editor) strongly believed in VOWA’s mission of encouraging youth, the future stewards of our natural world, to value and write about the outdoors.  Along with Richard Johnstone (Executive Editor) Bill also served as a judge for all the collegiate contest essay awards for many years. 

The June 2020 Cooperative Living article “A Camera Bag and a Heart of Gold” is a moving tribute to Bill and his fine work. A full obituary can be read here.

VOWA treasures Bill’s memory and all the support he provided to our organization over the years.  Thank you Bill!

In addition…

Steven Stroop

Jennifer Hensley, long serving VOWA Board member, tragically lost her brother, Steven Lee Stroop, to major complications of Covid-19, on June 3, 2020. Steven was an avid archer and outdoorsman who enjoyed hunting and fishing. He enjoyed skeet shooting with the Blue Ridge Christian skeet team. He will be dearly missed by his children, grandchildren, sisters and friends.

Our hearts go out to Jennifer and Thurman Hensley. The covid-19 virus exacts a heavy toll on families. Just eight weeks ago Steve and his brother-in-law Thurman were busy getting ready for crappie fishing.  Jennifer tells us that “Steve’s love of fishing was second to none, including our Dad. Give him a thought as you cast your line.” Please see Steve’s full obituary with a lovely slide show tribute.

Jennifer also asks that we all take care and stay as safe as possible during this horrific pandemic. Steven’s battle was six weeks long, sad and very painful to his family. Yes indeed we all need to work at staying safe.  Jennifer thank you for sharing about your brother’s loss with us and for your wishes that we remain safe, we all need to heed your call!


August 2019:

Swoope Almanac
Stories of love, land, and water in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley
by Robert Whitescarver

Bobby Whitescarver’s writing and public speaking about farming and the environment have charmed and informed audiences for over a decade. Now, the award-winning writer, conservationist, and farmer describes the hardships and joys of farming and nurturing the land while raising cattle, restoring streams, and creating wildlife habitat in this newly released book, Swoope Almanac: Stories of Love, Land, and Water in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.
Bobby Whitescarver
“Taste the wine, feel the soil, smell the rain, hear the warblers, see the wonders…join me on these pages to experience the surge of life’s energy in spring, the healing power of trees, and life on the farm with a ninth-generation, pearl earring-wearing, calf-roping farmer, my wife, the Princess of Swoope. Restoring streams, wildlife habitat, and soil are core themes that weave through this journal,” says the author.
For more information about Bobby and his new book, click Swoope Almanac Press Release
Hard and soft editions are available through Bobby’s outstanding website/blog Getting More on the Ground: https://www.gettingmoreontheground.com/swoope-almanac/