Louisiana Outdoors Writers Association honors award winners

Lyle Johnson
Winner of the Photo contest; Flight of the Egret.

The Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association held its annual conference in Covington a couple of weekends ago. Along with the fellowship, shooting, seminars and awarding of their Excellence in Craft awards to the membership, the premier event of the banquet is the Youth Journalism Contest.

Headed up by Gordon Hutchinson, LOWA member, board member, past President and Chairman of the Board, this premier contest allows an opportunity for all youth in Louisiana, ages 7 thru 18 to participate in photography and an essay competition.

The photography division is for all the age group, 7 years old through 18 years old. The essay category contains two age groups; 7 through 13 and 14 through 18 and like always this years’ competition was fierce and furious.

First, second, third and honorable mention awards are given for each of the three categories. In addition to the very nice certificates that each winner is presented with, a check goes along as well. Those prizes are in the amounts of $200, $100, $50 and $25. This initiative is made possible by generousness of The Safari Club International.

SCI is an international organization that has spent nearly $300 million on hunter advocacy and wildlife conservation since inception (actual value is $278,186,963 from 1979 to 2008) and plenty is spent focusing on our nation’s youth. Since 2000, SCI has spent $140 million on protecting the freedom to hunt to ensure hunting is protected for future generations.

In 1976, SCIF established the American Wilderness Leadership School with the vision of providing educators with a useful hands-on experience that they can use in the classroom. AWLS has provided a credited wildlife management program to more than 5,000 teachers who reach more than a million students annually. SCIF has also provided scholarships to nearly 100 college students who have enrolled in natural resource management or conservation education fields. They are in the “youth” business!

In photography the winners are – First place: Flight of the Egret by Jacob Thompson, Age 18. Second place Louisiana Reflections by Brittany Gosserand, Age 16. Third place: Louisiana Stream by Emily Winter, Age 12. Honorable Mention: Gator Camouflage by Dylan Duvio, Age 15.

Essay winners in the 14—18 division are; First Place for Nature’s Spectacle Catherine Parsiola, Age 18. Second place for Louisiana Education:  Reading, Writing, Arithmetic… and Fishing! Joshua Bellau, Age 14. Third place for Photo Challenger by Jacob Thompson, Age 17. Honorable Mention for My Outdoors by William Guilbeau, Age 14.

Junior essay winners in the 7-13 division are; First place for Magpie Lessons is Madeleine Juneau, Age 12. Second place for Deer Stand Education is Ashley Davis, Age 13. Third place for Will I Ever Get to Go Fishing Again is Alexis Lang, Age 10. Honorable Mention for Duck Hunting at Dawn is Joe Stassi, Age 12.

Young outdoor journalists were not the only ones awarded prizes at the 65th Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association Conference. There were also two outstanding hunters honored as well. Teaming up with Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries in 2007 to establish this award, the Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association board member, Dave Moreland made the presentation.

Adam Bernard, 11, from Opelousas won the male youth hunter of the year honor. Adam killed a 15 pound gobbler that sported a 9 inch beard and told quite a story about the three turkeys that flew down and how he earned the nickname, “Dead-Eye Red.”

Tori Kessler age 13, from Pineville took the female hunter of the year. Tori told of when she was drawn for a youth lottery deer hunt on Buckhorn Wildlife Management Area in December, continued with a camping trip with her dad and friends at Lake Bruin, and ended when she shouldered her .270 caliber rifle and took an eight-point, 4-year-old buck.

There were two Ascension Parish winners; Emily Winter. A home school student from Gonzales captured third place in the photo competition for her Louisiana Stream entry. Joe Stassi took fourth place in the Junior Essay division with his story, Duck Hunting at Dawn.

More on both of their stories and photo next week. Remember to keep the slack out and set the hook hard. Until next time have fun in the outdoors, be safe and may God bless you.