Congratulations to our Excellence-In-Craft Writing Winners!

VOWA is pleased to present the winners of our 2019-2020 Excellence-In-Craft Writing Categories. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic we did not get to celebrate with these winners at our Annual Meeting. 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!

Outstanding Book

Bobby Whitescarver

1st  Place: Bobby Whitescarver 
Swoope Almanac: Stories of love, land, and water in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley

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. Swoope Almanac, Stories of love, land, and water in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley is available at



Kelly Anne White

2nd Place: Kelly White
The Legend of the Fairy Stones 

Kelly White lives in Baltimore, Maryland, and also has a residence on Chincoteague Bay in Virginia where she is actively involved in the Chincoteague Storytelling Guild.

Kelly tells us “I’ve also conducted recent presentations at the Virginia Association of School Librarians Annual Conference in Roanoke, where I was an author presenter, and also at Martinsville’s Virginia Museum of Natural History, which has fairy stones on display in its permanent collection. I am a longtime editorial professional with 30 years in publishing, and some of my other titles include The Bible Adventure Book of Scavenger Hunts, Natural Wonders of the World: Yellowstone, and Archery: Outdoor Adventures.”

Kelly learned about the fairy stones after visiting Patrick County a few years ago, and “I was immediately enthralled. My book is based on the Virginia folklore of fairy tears turning to cross-shaped stones (real-life staurolite crystals).” You can learn more about Kelly and her work at


Outstanding Blog

1st Place: Bobby Whitescarver
Getting More on the Ground, “Environmental Justice and a Burning Bridge Across the Potomac,”
December 2, 2019

Bobby Whitescarver is multi-talented and his blog “Getting More on the Ground is outstanding! A must read for anyone interested in conservation, land, clean water and advocacy for our environment.  Bio info and picture of Bobby are above with his book award.  Congratulations Bobby!


Dr. Peter Brookes

2nd Place: Peter Brookes 
Brookes Outdoors, “Fatherhood and Fly Fishing,” DGIF Blog, June 10, 2019  

Dr. Peter Brookes is a D.C. foreign policy geek by day and a Virginia freelance outdoor writer by night.  When not trying to prevent World War III, he spends as much time on the water and in the fields as possible, hunting and fishing in Virginia—and beyond.  He currently freelances for The Northern Virginia Daily newspaper, Woods & Waters magazine and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.  He’s a graduate of the Naval Academy, Johns Hopkins and Georgetown.  You can catch his work on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn at Brookes Outdoors.


Outstanding Newsletter

Nancy Sorrells

1st Place: Nancy Sorrells, Editor
Sempervirens, Newsletter of the Virginia Native Plant Society 

For decades, Nancy Sorrells has juggled vastly different careers of journalism and history, writing about both, separately or together. As an editor, writer, and consultant she produces pieces that run the gamut from conservation and travel to football and history. She has parlayed history degrees into a partnership in Lot’s Wife Publishing, a book publishing and museum consulting firm. Finally, she works with the Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley, a non-profit working to keep the Shenandoah Valley a special place. Nancy and her recently-retired husband Randy live in Greenville, Va., with two dogs, two cats, and a tank of fish.



Outstanding Column

1st Place: Peter Brookes
Muskies pose tough challenge for anglers,”
The Northern Virginia Daily, October 24, 2019

Dr. Peter Brookes is a multi-award winner in this year’s EIC. His bio info, where to “catch more of his work” and his picture are posted above with his winning blog award. Congratulations Peter!  


2nd Place: Bobby Whitescarver
A blind crustacean, at least for now, is stronger than Dominion’s drive for a gas pipeline,
News Leader, August 15, 2019

Bio information and picture for Bobby Whitescarver is at the top of this page with his award-winning book posting. Outstanding work Bobby! 


3rd Place: Nancy Sorrells
Sumac Galls!Sempervirens Newsletter of the Virginia Native Plant Society, Summer 2019

Sempervirens shines again! This time with a column written by Nancy Sorrells who also edits this award-winning newsletter. Nancy’s bio and image is posted above with her newsletter award. Great work Nancy!


Outstanding Feature Story

1st Place: Nancy Sorrells 
Fish Live on Trees,” Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley, November 18, 2019

2nd Place: Nancy Sorrells
Outdoor Opportunities Enhance Local Economics,” Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley, May 3, 2019

Congratulations Nancy Sorrells on these outstanding pieces! Nancy’s bio and pictures is above with her Outstanding Newsletter win. 


Clarke C. Jones

3rd Place: Clarke Jones
Digging Deep,” Virginia Living, October 2019

Award-winning author Clarke C. Jones grew up surrounded by the history of the small Village of Midlothian, Virginia, home of the first commercial coal mines in America. He notes that the early settlers were always looking for gold but found coal instead. Clarke believes that life is sometimes like that — looking for something you think you’ve always wanted but finding something different and better. Any success he has had he attributes to working with great photographers, a wife who constantly “saves him from himself,” and a black Labrador retriever that is his constant muse. You can visit his website at



Special Awards


Marie Majarov

Fly Fishers of Virginia Conservation Award
Marie Majarov 
Grassroots: A Story of Virginia’s Working Landscapes,
Virginia Wildlife, March/April 2019

Marie Majarov is a freelance photographer/writer, a Virginia Master Naturalist and a trained DGIF Habitat Partners© pollinator habitat educator.  She and her husband Milan reside on the edge of a beautiful old woodland in Frederick County where they thoroughly enjoy nature and its conservation.
A frequent contributor to Virginia Wildlife Magazine, Marie’s   work has also appeared in Zoogoer, a Smithsonian magazine, BlueRidge Country and various regional newsletters/newspapers.  


Robert Thomas

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

Robert Thomas is an award winning professional photographer/writer with many published articles and photographs. An avid outdoors-man, 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.


Nancy Sorrells

Appalachian Mountain Advocates Conservation Award

Nancy Sorrells 
Fish Live on Trees,” Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley, November 18, 2019

Congratulations Nancy Sorrells, outstanding work! Nancy’s bio is above with her 1st  place Newsletter award. 





Special thanks to our Excellence-In-Craft sponsors: the Fly Fishers of Virginia, Appalachian Mountain Advocates 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.