BADIN, N.C. — A foundation created to inspire and mentor aspiring young outdoor communicators, while serving professional outdoor communicators, is set to begin 2023 with fresh goals and a new board of directors.
The organization is the Outdoor Journalist Education Foundation. OJEFA is dedicated to the education and support of outdoor communicators, and their efforts to promote and influence participation in wildlife, fishing and related outdoor activities.
The new board, with nearly 130 years of collective outdoor communications and industry experience, will be instrumental in guiding OJEFA’s mission and goals.
“With the years of experience that the OJEFA board and CEO have in the outdoor industry, we are hitting the ground running to develop OJEFA into the premier source for outdoor communication education and professional standards,” said LeAnn Schmitt, who will serve as the 2023 president.
Schmitt said the board will develop cohesive relationships across the outdoor industry, from manufacturers and conservation organizations, to outdoor media groups.
“We look forward to working with every aspect of the outdoor industry including equipment manufacturers, vendors, conservation organizations, and outdoor media groups, to ensure that youth learn how to effectively, ethically, and professionally communicate about the outdoor pursuits we all value and enjoy.”
Schmitt, director of partnership development for the Outdoors Tomorrow Foundation, has worked in government, retail and nonprofit aspects of the outdoor industry. She is joined by these OJEFA board members:
- Emily Strother infuses youth into the board, tailoring her journalism and communication studies in undergraduate and graduate coursework in outdoors and communication to benefit her career in the industry.
- Hampton Bourne is a financial advisor and outdoor writer whose late father, award-winning outdoor communicator Wade Bourne, exposed his son at an early age to fishing, hunting and outdoor journalism.
- Josh Wolfe brings a decade of experience in digital marketing, now heading up his own agency.
- Craig Lamb, senior editor of Bassmaster.com, brings to the board a career lifetime of experience in editorial, marketing communications and video/TV production in the sportfishing and outdoor industry.
- Mike Giles is an award-winning wildlife photographer, book author, newspaper columnist, and public speaker who promotes positive interaction with youth in the outdoors.
In addition to developing communications tools for middle- and high-school students, OJEFA plans to recognize excellence in the field of outdoor communications, award opportunity-based scholarships to students aspiring to be outdoor communicators, and partner with allied industry leaders to encourage, promote, and support outdoor communications on all levels.
“I’m most excited about building upon the success of the Lindsay Sale-Tinney Award,” said Lisa Snuggs, CEO of OJEFA. “Winners will be able to choose from a pre-approved list of events to attend, or they may ask for consideration of something aligned with their specific area of interest.”
Snuggs added the OJEFA board seeks to honor the past, while learning, teaching and encouraging in the present and planning for the future of the trade of outdoor communicators.