North American Assembly of Outfitter Associations to discuss sustaining the heritage of hunting, wildlife management issues at Bozeman workshop
In July, Laurie and I attended the Professional Outfitters & Guides Association (POGA) Workshop in Bozeman, MT. Nineteen outfitting and guiding associations from the United States and Canada representing 20,000 small businesses gathered to share information on leading industry issues in North America. Key themes in this year’s workshop included hunter-angler recruitment, reaching the non-hunting community with proactive messaging, the latest science behind chronic wasting disease, and growing and sustaining member associations. Safari Club International has been sponsoring this workshop since 2001, and this meeting has been one of the best and most productive meetings we’ve ever attended.
During the breakout sessions, the Professional Outfitters and Guides of America (POGA) was represented by Executive Directors from Alaska, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, and Laurie and I represented Wyoming to discuss workflow processes to increase member retention, travel insurance programs that benefit both member businesses and outfitting and guiding associations, business partnership programs, raffle models to effectively raise money for associations and benefit member outfitters, and opportunities to secure funding through state tourism grants. Last but not least, Laurie and I were asked to discuss the fundraising mechanism behind the Wyoming Outdoors publication. Our publication was referred to as “The best publication out of all the state associations”. The Executive Director from Nevada said “this is by far the best publication I’ve ever seen”. The Wyoming Outdoors publication is something we should all be proud of.
Experts speaking about initiatives geared toward sustaining hunting’s heritage across North America included keynote speaker Michael Sabbeth, author of The Honorable Hunter: Defending and Advancing Our Hunting Heritage, who spoke about skillfully advocating for hunting; John Boretsky, the Guide and Outfitters Liaison for Safari Club International and a board member of the International Conservation Coalition, shared research on how people without strong preexisting opinions about hunting tend to view it, as well as messaging that connects with this population; Daniel Brooks, Safari Club International Foundation’s Director of Education and Humanitarian Services, who shared information about programs that have a strong track record of recruiting new hunters; and Diana Rupp, the editor-in-chief of Sports Afield, who presented on the Nimrod Society, an organization that uses a state-funded media campaign to reach a broad audience about the beneficial impact of hunters and anglers on wildlife habitat, public lands access, and economic development.
Samantha Gibbs, a wildlife veterinarian with the Fish and Wildlife Service and a leading expert on chronic wasting disease, shared the latest research on CWD, which has been detected in wild ungulates in approximately 20 states as well as Alberta and Saskatchewan.
This is the first year that the workshop was held in Bozeman. Attendees had the opportunity to explore some of the touchstone Montana experiences like an afternoon of fly fishing on the Gallatin River, a tour of Ted Turner’s 113,000-acre Flying D Ranch and a horseback ride into the Spanish Peaks.
The workshop closed with an industry night featuring representatives from some of the top outdoor brands in Bozeman including Sitka, Mystery Ranch, Stone Glacier, Kenetrek Boots and Fish Hunt Fight. Representatives from each company explained their outfitter/guide program and provided door prizes from their hunting lines. Laurie and I met the representatives and Laurie provided a media kit to each representative and pitched the publication.
All in all, this was a worthwhile workshop and I look forward to attending again.
Jeff Smith, President