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Craft Awards, Scholarships Highlight OWO Conference
June 13, 2018

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CAMBRIDGE, OH - Several awards and scholarship presentations were the highlight of a weeklong conference of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio, held in early May in Cambridge, Ohio. It was the 79th Annual OWO Conference, hosted by the Cambridge/Guernsey County Convention & Visitor's Bureau, held at the Holiday Inn Express.

During the week members enjoyed fishing excursions at nearby Salt Fork Lake and AEP lands, turkey hunting at Salt Fork State Park, photography session and motorized tour at The Wilds, a Big Foot hike and craft seminar.

The AEP guided fishing trip was hosted by ODNR Wildlife Chief Mike Miller, who also offered an ODNR, Division of Wildlife update on Saturday along with ODNR Assistant Director Gary Obermiller.

The awards banquet was held May 5 at the Cambridge Country Club. OWO President Mike Mainhart and Conference Chair Jeff Frischkorn led the festivities. The dinner was provided by The National Shooting Sports Foundation.

One of the most entertaining presentations came as Ohio state Record Fish Committee Chairman Fred Snyder recognized one new record holder for 2017. James Beres, of Lorain, OH was honored for setting a new Ohio lake trout mark with his 26.63-pound fish, caught Dec. 1, 2017 on Lake Erie. Beres had a most interesting story to tell about his record fish catch. Read about his story on Page 10.

One side note: it was not the first time Beres and Snyder had met. Beres said after his award presentation that he first met Snyder "several years ago" when Beres attended the very first Ohio State Sea Grant 4-H Camp on Lake Erie, where Snyder was a camp instructor.

Five college scholarships, of $1,000 each, were awarded during the banquet. Ryan Wagner was the recipient of the Wodrich Scholarship; Amanda Szinte was presented the Lawrence and June Brobst Family Memorial Scholarship; Levon Bajakian was the recipient of the Toyota Let's Go Places Scholarship and Lauren Trapini and Mary Reichle were each presented OWO Scholarships.

The annual Bruce Dawson Award, sponsored by Ernst Conservation Seed, went to Back to the Wild, the Castalia wildlife rehabilitation center. OWO past President John Hageman presented the award.

Since 1990 Back in the Wild has rescued 23,000 animals, and half of those have been sent free after rehabilitation. On average Back in the Wild handles 1500-2500 animals each year. The animals have ranged from road runners to many eagles. Since 1996 the center has rescued 171 bald eagles.

Back to the Wild has provided more than 3,700 wildlife presentations. They have welcomed close to 35,000 visitors to the center. At the time they have 111 permanently disabled animals for visitors to see. The center functions totally from donations.

Top Craft Contest awards went to: Matt Markey, Chip Gross, Kristina Smith and Jim Rahtz. Markey, the Outdoor Editor at the Toledo Blade, won four first place honors and one second place. Rahtz, a freelance outdoor writer, photographer and author of several hiking books, took a first and third place in photography categories and two second place awards for writing. Cross won two categories in the writing group, including Best Column and Best Internet Article, and two second-place finishes. In the photography categories Cross had five awards, including: Best Color Photo and three second places and one third place. Smith was recognized four times, including two first place awards.

Of Ohio Valley Outdoors contributors, John Hageman won the Best Magazine Article category and Paul Liikala was second. Hageman also placed second in the Best Newspaper Article category and third with his Best How-to Article "Choosing a New Bird Hunting Dog", which ran in OVO's 2017 Summer edition. Liikala was also presented the "People's Choice Award" by Dorothy Mainhart for a photo display held during the conference.

Markey and Rahtz were were also recognized for "Outstanding Media Achievement". Rahtz is a freelance outdoor writer, photographer and author of several hiking books.

For more information about OWO, visit their Facebook page: The Outdoor Writers of Ohio.

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