President’s Previous Messages

June 2015

President’s Message

With Pennsylvania’s spring gobbler season finally over, I won’t be getting up at 4:00 a.m. every morning.  This means no more afternoon naps and maybe a little time for some fishing.

I know I’m filling some pretty big shoes following Tom as M-DOWA president.  We all owe him a big round of applause for a job well done.

I’d also like to commend Frank Mundy for his outstanding performance as treasurer.  I’ve held that position for some other organizations in the past, and I know just how thankless a task it can be.  Keep up the good work, Frank.

Also I want to thank Matt Schwartz for his work as executive director.  I hope he and I can work together in the next two years to make the M-DOWA even better. Thanks to Debbie Flanigan for an excellent Facebook page.  It really looks good.  If you haven’t visited yet, I highly recommend you do so. See our web page list for the link.

Thanks to Dana Troutman for his support of M-DOWA.  He really goes the extra mile.

All that taken care of, I’d like to enumerate some of my goals for the upcoming year.  Foremost is to fill the vacant officer slots on our board.  We need a second vice president and a couple of directors.  I’m hoping some of our members will step up.  Don’t be surprised if I buttonhole some of you personally.

Another important goal of mine is to help the club grow by recruiting more members.  Last year I signed up two; this year my goal is to double that.  I will also challenge the membership to match me in recruitment.

In addition, I would like to add a few more supporting members.  I have had a couple nibbles lately and I’m hoping to reel them in. Adding a few more sponsors and additional categories for our Excellence in Craft awards is another pet project of mine.  Dana and I are working on this.

For the past few years, we’ve been exploring a joint fall conference with VOWA and POWA.  Tom and I brought this up at the recent POWA conference, and it looks like there is some interest among their membership.  It is a goal of mine to see this to fruition.

I would like to see some smaller informal get-togethers with groups of members meeting for some fishing, hiking, or other outdoor activities.  If anyone would like to arrange/host such, let me know.

We will be having a board meeting at Bass Pro in Arundel Mills sometime in August.  More information will be forthcoming.  Hopefully at that time we will have some idea for a location for our 2016 spring conference.

Have a great summer! Harry

Caption: My grandson Harrison with his first pet. H's Black snake

M-DOWA President’s Report for April 25, 2015

Welcome to beautiful Bedford, Pennsylvania.  Thanks to Conference Chairperson and First Vice President Harry Guyer, Jr., we can look forward to an action-packed, informative, and entertaining three days of fellowship and fun.  Harry has assembled an incredible array of activities including a fresh water fishing adventure on Thursday, then, on Friday, visits to Old Bedford Village, Reynoldsdale Fish Hatchery, a local deer farm, a winery tour (with wine tasting included, of course) and a walking tour of the downtown Bedford historic district.  Saturday’s spouse’s tour will include the Flight 93 Site, the National Coverlet Museum, and a visit to Downtown Bedford shops.  A strong slate of Saturday seminars includes flag history, a photography clinic courtesy of award winning photographer Tim Flanigan, a craft-improvement writing seminar hosted by yours truly, a presentation by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and much more, capped off by our Excellence in Craft awards Banquet on Saturday night.  And on that note, more thanks to Harry and Dana Troutman for all their work on the awards committee.

While we look forward to spending time with old friends and colleagues at our conference, others will be sorely missed for personal reasons.  I believe I speak for the entire board in extending heartfelt condolences to M-DOWA secretary Bill May on the passing of his beloved wife Carolyn on March 16.  Due to her failing health, Bill was compelled to take an extended leave of absence from the board and his role as secretary.  We hope that when Bill sufficiently recovers from this tragic loss, he will find a way to reunite with his M-DOWA family.  In the meantime, we will continue to miss his friendly face, wisecracking ways, and edgy sense of humor.

We will also greatly miss our friends Marie and Milan Majarov.  Due to her busy schedule, Marie reluctantly resigned from the M-DOWA Board of Directors effective after the 2015 Conference in Bedford.  The Majarovs had intended to attend the conference in Bedford, but due to some of Milan’s medical issues, will be unable.  We’ll hope for Milan’s full return to good health and look forward to seeing the Majarovs at future M-DOWA events.

Our board has suffered other losses as well.  Recent Board of Director resignations include Ed Felker and John Page Williams.  As I noted in my earlier President’s Report, we now have numerous BOD vacancies that need to be filled and we need to recruit a member to serve as Secretary.  We hope that this can be accomplished at our membership meeting on Saturday and will plan to hold a Board Meeting on Sunday morning, ideally with a full slate of new board members in place.

As I said before, M-DOWA needs to reboot and reenergize.  Newly installed Executive Director Matt Schwartz  has thus far assumed a dynamic role in the association and is a key component in making that happen in our efforts to attract new members.  On that note, let me welcome our new members and conference attendees into the M-DOWA fold:  Linda Mundy, Bud Cole, Mike Klimkos, and Charlie Burchfield.  Linda helps with editing chores for husband Frank.  Among his many other writing credits, Bud is the nature columnist for the Northhampton Press while Mike serves as editor for the Mid Atlantic Fly Fishing Guide.  Charlie has extensive outdoors publications to his credit and may be best known for being my turkey hunting buddy when we scored on a pair of nice gobblers one morning a few years back.  We also welcome guest attendees Marlene Condon of Virginia Outdoor Writers Association (VOWA) along with husband Robert Butler and Jennifer Hensley, also of VOWA.

And on behalf of M-DOWA, I’d like to express our sincere thanks to Dominion Resources, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, and other supporting members for their generous sponsorships of the 2015 M-DOWA Conference.

In the meantime, our plans for a joint conference with VOWA and POWA remain on hold.  Marie Majarov and Robert Thomas had volunteered to research the possibility of having the conference in Winchester, VA, but it would not take place until the fall of 2016 to give them time to work out the details.  Harry and I will meet with the POWA BOD at some point during their Spring Conference slated for May concerning joint conference possibilities.

In closing, I will mention that this is my final M-DOWA President’s Report because the 2015 Conference also serves as the venue for a changing of the guard at M-DOWA where I begin my role as Chairman of the Board, First VP Harry Guyer becomes President, and Second VP Joe Byers moves up to First VP.  Let me wish Harry and Joe the best of luck in their new offices.  Good luck, guys, because President Tatum has left the building, but as Chairman of the Board, I’ll do it my way.

Tom Tatum

M-DOWA President’s Report for January 25, 2015 

As with many things in life, I can say that this report contains both good news and bad news for the venerable Mason-Dixon Outdoor Writers Association. Let’s start with the good news. First off, many thanks to our recently installed Executive Director Matt Schwartz for his diligence and considerable efforts in revising and reworking the M-DOWA Constitution, By-laws, and Organizational Manual to reflect the current dynamics of the organization. Under Matt’s direct supervision, the M-DOWA website is also coming along quite well. Check it out at http://mdowa.com/ .

First Vice President Harry Guyer, Jr., is also deserving of major kudos for his outstanding efforts in planning our 2015 M-DOWA annual conference to be held from Thursday, April 23, through Sunday, April 26. Harry has assembled an incredible array of activities including a fresh water fishing adventure on Thursday, then, on Friday, visits to Old Bedford Village, Reynoldsdale Fish Hatchery, a local deer farm, a winery tour (with wine tasting included, of course) and a walking tour of the downtown Bedford historic district.  Saturday’s spouse’s tour will include the Flight 93 Site, the National Coverlet Museum, and a visit to Downtown Bedford shops. A strong slate of Saturday seminars includes flag history, a photography clinic courtesy of award winning photographer Tim Flanigan, a presentation by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and much more, capped off by our Excellence in Craft awards Banquet on Saturday night. And on that note, more thanks to Harry and Dana Troutman for all their work on the awards committee.

And now the bad news. Due to personal reasons, our lovably cantankerous secretary, Bill May, has been forced to take an indefinite hiatus from his BOD secretarial duties and from M-DOWA in general. We all wish Bill well and hope he’ll soon have a reversal of fortune and return to the fold ASAP. Board meetings just won’t be the same without him. In the meantime, we’ll have to appoint an interim secretary (anyone care to volunteer?). Our board has suffered other losses as well. Recent Board of Director resignations include Ed Felker and John Page Williams. Board member Marie Majarov regrets that, due to her busy schedule and other obligations, she also will resign from the BOD effective after the 2015 Conference in Bedford. These are all vacancies that have yet to be filled, and it’s a problem that needs to be resolved at the conference, if not before.

It has become very apparent that the M-DOWA BOD as well as the organization in general needs to reboot and reenergize. The hiring of Matt Schwartz as Executive Director was an important step in that direction. With falling membership at critical mass we need to brainstorm ideas to recruit  new blood and rekindle interest among the old guard. I’m thinking a serious membership drive is in order with the M-DOWA website playing a crucial role.

M-DOWA is also slated for a changing of the guard at our 2015 Spring Conference.  According to past protocol, I would move to Chairman of the Board, First VP Harry Guyer would take over as President, and Second VP Joe Byers would move up to First VP.

For now it would seem that any plans for a joint conference with VOWA and POWA remain on the back burner. Marie Majarov and Robert Thomas have volunteered to research the possibility of having the conference in Winchester, VA, but it would not take place until the fall of 2016 to give them time to work out the details. Harry and I will meet with the POWA BOD at some point during their Spring Conference slated for May concerning joint conference possibilities .

That’s it for now, folks. I’ll look forward to seeing ALL of you at the 2015 M-DOWA Annual Conference in Bedford. It promises to be informative, entertaining, and downright awesome!

Tom Tatum

M-DOWA President’s Message for September 2014

As members of M-DOWA, we look forward to what the future holds.  On the near horizon we look to our annual spring conference to be held in Bedford, Pennsylvania this spring.  M-DOWA First Vice President and Conference Chair Harry Guyer, Jr., is still in the process of pinning down dates, activities and speakers.  In a slight break from our March tradition, Harry is hoping to move the conference to an April date, preferably one that will not conflict with opening day of Pennsylvania’s trout season (April 11) (possibly the weekend following) (April 18).  This is just one of the issues the BOD needs to address at our August meeting.

M-DOWA is also slated for a changing of the guard at our 2015 Spring Conference. While the normal progression of things would suggest that I would move to Chairman of the Board, First VP Harry Guyer would take over as President, and Second VP Joe Beyers would move up to First VP, Executive Director Matt Schwartz advises that for these moves to conform to the M-DOWA Constitution, the candidates are still required to be selected by a nominating committee and voted on by the full membership.  To that end I solicited the M-DOWA membership in June for volunteers to serve on this committee (only three required).  To say the response was weak would be an understatement, it was non-existent.  I also solicited the BOD for recommendations for committee members with much the same result.  This is one of the issues we need to resolve at our September BOD meeting with ED Matt Schwartz’s guidance.

POWA President Mark Nale contacted me on August 11 to discuss the possibility of a joint conference among POWA, M-DOWA, and VOWA in the fall of 2015.  At this time the POWA officers believe a joint spring conference would not be practical and far too complicated.  Mark suggested Maryland as the best location for a joint fall conference, perhaps Rocky Gap State Park.  While we have formed tentative steering committees with representatives from all three organizations, it appears that we will be moving rather slowly on this in terms of any major spring joint conferences are concerned.  POWA will be hosting a fall conference at Hawk Mountain next month with lodging near Hamburg, PA (home of Cabelas).

Tom Tatum

President’s Message April 2013

Let me open this, my first presidential message to M-DOWA, with a resounding thank you to all those who have come before me and who have conspired to make this organization a first-rate, first-class operation in the field of outdoors communication. I count my predecessor, Curt Bobzin among these as well as Past President Alex Zidock whose efforts in organizing our recent conference in Staunton (with considerable support from his wife, Joanne)  resulted in what many members believe to be our best conference in recent memory.

Kudos for the success of that joint conference with the Virginia Outdoor Writers Association also goes to M-DOWA board member Marie Majarov who, in her dual role as President of VOWA, was the key to recruiting an incredible slate of conference speakers. I’d also like to wish First Vice-President Harry Guyer the best of luck and offer him plenty of support in organizing our next M-DOWA conference. He has a tough act to follow.

Thanks are also due to former Executive Director Ken Tidy for his contributions over the past few years. He is already surely missed in that capacity as we continue our search for a new Executive Director as capable and reliable as Ken, one of the most critically important challenges now facing M-DOWA. Our gratitude is also extended to Jim Heim for his years of service as M-DOWA treasurer and to Frank Mundy for stepping up to replace him while continuing his work as Membership Committee Chairman. Also, in the stepping-up department,  I’d like to thank Joe Byers for filling in as Second Vice-President and Ed Felker for joining our illustrious Board of Directors. And I would be remiss not to acknowledge other members of the board for their service including Dan Neuland, John Page Williams, and Robert Thomas who also deserves a shout out for his work as editor of our newsletter, the Mason-Dixon Line, as does Bill May for his work as recording secretary.

And while we’re at it, I want to thank Maryland Tourism’s Connie Yingling for all her help when it comes to supporting M-DOWA and generously contributing to our conference planning. Let me also take a moment to congratulate Harry Guyer (and Dana Troutman) for another excellent job on the Excellence in Craft Awards Committee, selection and presentation, and also offer congratulations to those M-DOWA members who won recognition for their excellent submissions and encouragement for future success to those who didn’t.

In any case, I find myself surrounded by an extraordinarily capable M-DOWA team, all of whom I have greatly enjoyed working with and will look forward to our combined efforts to achieve even greater success in the future. As Bob Dylan has advised us, the times, they are a-changin’, particularly in the publishing industry.  Consequently, M-DOWA’s transition into the digital/internet age continues. While this may be problematic in some regards, ultimately it represents opportunities for us to grow as we encourage bloggers, online columnists, webmasters, and others to join our professional ranks.

I’ll end with a quote from Robert Kennedy (whose oldest brother Joe often piloted my father’s B-24 Liberator bomber during WW II) who said in a speech in Cape Town in June 1966, “There is a Chinese curse which says ‘May he live in interesting times.’ Like it or not we live in interesting times. They are times of danger and uncertainty; but they are also more open to the creative energy of men than any other time in history.” I think it’s safe to say that Kennedy’s observation, almost half a century later, still holds true for M-DOWA. So folks, let’s make the most of that creative energy.

Tom Tatum