Congratulations to our Excellence-In-Craft Writing Winners!

VOWA is pleased to present the winners of our 2020-2021 Excellence-In-Craft Writing Competition. The winners were announced at the VOWA Annual Meeting held September 25, 2021 in Charlottesville. VOWA offers sincere congratulations to the winners and celebrates their outstanding work in this showcase.

Note: Many of the titles are links to the writer’s work…read and enjoy!



1st Place: Lisa Connors
The Hidden Life in Streams
Lisa Connors

Lisa Connors grew up in a suburb south of Pittsburgh and has always loved the outdoors. She spent many days in an undeveloped lot nearby climbing trees, discovering caterpillars, and dreaming. She has a fondness for the often-maligned predator in food chains and wanted to be a wolf biologist when she was younger. Instead, she experimented with being a medical technologist, a molecular biologist technician and a teacher. Deep down inside there was always a desire to be a writer.

Elizabeth Spragins
2nd Place: Elizabeth Spragins
Waltzing With Water

Elizabeth Spencer Spragins is a fiber artist, writer, and poet who taught in North Carolina community colleges for more than a decade before returning to her home state of Virginia. Her short fiction, Tanka, and bardic verse in the Celtic style have appeared in more than 80 journals and anthologies in nine countries. She is the author of three collections of original poetry: Waltzing With Water: Tempos in Verse and With No Bridle for the Breeze: Ungrounded Verse (Shanti Arts Publishing) and The Language of Bones: American Journeys Through Bardic Verse (Kelsay Books).



1st Place: Bobby Whitescarver
Getting More on the Ground
Bobby Whitescarver

Robert “Bobby” Whitescarver is a farmer, watershed restoration consultant, award winning writer and educator. Retired from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service with 31 years of field experience, Bobby teaches natural resources management at James Madison University and is president of a private environmental consulting firm.

Bobby graduated from Virginia Tech with a BS in agronomy in 1979. Last year, he and his wife, Jeanne Hoffman were selected as soil health champions by the National Association of Conservation Districts. Follow Bobby on his blog at His award-winning book, Swoope Almanac: Stories of Love, Land, and Water in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, is available at


1st Place: Bobby Whitescarver
“So much has been accomplished in 50 years since the First Earth Day” The Daily News Leader, April 16, 2020

See Bobby’s biography and photo under “Blogs”

Amanda Creasey

2nd Place: Amanda Creasey
“Warblers, Waterfowl and a Weekend Retreat” Cooperative Living Magazine, June 2021

Amanda Creasey an award-winning and widely published freelance writer, eager to hear about and help you with your project. Check out her “Mind the Dog Writing Blog.” She is a graduate of Michigan State University, where she earned her undergraduate degree in German, with a minor in English, and has been a high school English teacher since 2006. The past three years, she has worked as a juror for the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. She is a board member of the Virginia Outdoor Writers Association.

3rd Place: Amanda Creasey
“What I Learned From a Walk in the Woods”     Cooperative Living Magazine, February 2021

See Amanda’s biography and photo above.


1st Place: Denise and Steve Wilcox
“Grow a Butterfly Garden” Fun for Kidz
Denise and Steve Wilcox

Denise and Steve Wilcox have shared the joys of nature, gardening, hiking, and touring National Parks for almost 50 years. After retiring from their positions in public education, Denise has dedicated more time to her writing and Steve has nurtured his love of photography. They also enjoy painting, drawing and printmaking in their studio.


Ashley Unger
Fly Fishers of Virginia Conservation Award: Ashley Unger
“Conserve VA Waterways”

Ashley Unger is an INFP (introverted, intuitive, feeler, perceiver) and Enneaggram 4 (an Individualist) who cannot get enough of animals, plants, rocks, and stars. She is a native plant enthusiast and true crime podcast-obsessed human who sits well with soft things and a cup of tea.

Mossy Creek Fly Fishing Award: Robert Thomas
The Singing Reel      Newsletter of the Fly Fishers of Virginia
Robert Thomas

Robert Thomas is an award-winning professional photographer/writer with many published articles and photographs. An avid outdoorsman, he is active in the fly-fishing industry teaching classes, conducting seminars, and hosting adventure trips throughout North and South America. Robert is the current Chairman of VOWA’s Board of Directors and chairs the organization’s Excellence-In-Craft competition. In addition, he is a member of the Mason-Dixon Outdoor Writers Association. Robert lives in Henrico, Virginia, with his wife Joan and spoiled rotten dog Liza.

Appalachian Headwaters Conservation Award:   Focus on Pollinators Entry
Denise and Steve Wilcox
Denise and Steve Wilcox
“Grow a Butterfly Garden” Fun for Kidz

See the Wilcox’s biography under “Feature Story”



Special thanks to our Excellence-In-Craft sponsors: the Fly Fishers of Virginia, Appalachian Headwaters and Mossy Creek Fly Fishing. We also send our gratitude to the many fine judges involved in this competition for their generous donation of time, patience, and expertise in judging our contest.
VOWA thanks Robert Thomas for all his efforts in chairing and organizing this successful Excellence-In-Craft competition.