Enjoyable outdoor writers' conference in Sayre, Pennsylvania
I just returned from the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writer's Conference, which was held this year in Sayre, Pennsylvania. Sayre, in northern Bradford County, is about as far north as you can get in Pennsylvania without entering New York.
Bradford County is rich with streams, forested mountains and wildlife – the things that most readers of this blog like about Pennsylvania.
The two-day conference was an opportunity for outdoor communicators from all across the state to get together to refine our crafts, discover local history, recognize our peers' achievements, network and enjoy fellowship. Pennsylvania Outdoor News blogger Tyler Frantz was there, along with other Pennsylvania Outdoor News contributors Bob Steiner, Charlie Burchfield and others.
You might wonder what happens at an outdoor writers' conference.
Activities began on Friday with turkey hunting and fishing opportunities, as well as touring local points of interest. An informative presentation by Deb Twigg, executive director of the Susquehanna River Archaeological Center, followed dinner that evening. A board-of-directors meeting ended the day for those with official duties.
The Saturday morning agenda provided us an offering of educational seminars. Topics this year included writing advice, the basics of reloading ammunition and news from the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission. A barbecue lunch and afternoon activities were hosted by the Sayre Sportsmen's Club. They included what we call "Breakout" – a chance for members to meet with businesses and organizations that are supporting members.
Even though it was spitting rain, many members took advantage of the Sayre Sportsmen's Club's skeet range and pulverized more than a few clay pigeons. Members could use their own guns or try out a few of the most expensive shotguns around. Guns, clay targets and ammunition were provided by Caesar Guerini, RST Shells, and Kent Cartridge. Nationally-recognized gun writer Nick Sisley offered shooting advice for those less experienced.
All attendees look forward to Saturday evening's annual banquet and excellence in craft awards presentations. This year, members competed for awards in 27 categories – honoring the best in Pennsylvania outdoor photography, writing, art and broadcasting.
My photo (pictured with this blog) of a colorful native brook trout won the Best Fishing and Boating Related Photograph and it also finished second in the Best Published Newspaper Photograph category. It was on page one of the June 5, 2015 Pennsylvania Outdoor News. Frantz, Steiner, Burchfield and others also won awards.
My original Sunday plans included fishing a few Bradford County wild trout streams. However, a cold front moved in and the morning's weather included wind-driven snow and rain. Instead, I decided to follow a tip from writer and editor Paula Piatt, with whom I had shared a table at the awards dinner. Piatt, who writes for Pennsylvania and New York Outdoor News, talked about our shared love of birds and photography. She suggested that I visit a local wetland if there was a break in the morning's weather.
Instead of fishing, I hiked around the trails at the Wildwood Nature Reserve and had an enjoyable time before I drove back to Centre County. There is always value in networking. It is one of the many benefits of belonging to a writers' organization.