March 1, 2021

The Texas Outdoor Writers Association is looking younger every day!

Pictured left to right: Jenn Nolan (Officer), Christina Dhanji (Treasurer), Brooklee Grant (President-Elect), Michael Bennett (President), Herman Brune (Board Chair), Jeff Lichon (Secretary), Sam Caldwell (Officer)
Pictured left to right: Jenn Nolan (Officer), Christina Dhanji (Treasurer), Brooklee Grant (President-Elect), Michael Bennett (President), Herman Brune (Board Chair), Jeff Lichon (Secretary), Sam Caldwell (Officer)

Port Arthur, Texas, is recognized as the original meeting place where a clan of like-minded professional communicators gathered to organize the first Texas Outdoor Writers Assn. (TOWA) Annual Conference. These folks realized the significance of networking with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept., conservation groups, PR companies, manufacturers, other writers/photographers, students, and writing organizations.  The Mission Statement they devised reflects that sentiment, as well as, the desire to promote the outdoors and wildlife conservation to the general public. Over six decades TOWA raked more like-minded people together and shined representing Texas Outdoor Sportsmen.

On February 26 – 28, 2021, with the theme, “Be the Narrative”, the group’s leaders doubled-down on those objectives, and met again in Port Arthur. Despite a year of social confusion, the TOWA 2021 Annual Conference enjoyed a crowd of steadfast older members, new young members, supporting members, wildlife biologists, the Texas State Rifle Assn., and a smattering of public interested in TOWA goals.  

The greatest takeaway aspect, from the conference, is the youth oriented board of directors. Board chair, Herman Brune said, “When I came on the board there was only one person younger than me. Now, Sam Caldwell and I could say everyone here could be our kids or grand-kids!”

President Hailey Johnson began as a student member coordinating seminars and recruiting more student members at Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi. She soon joined the board, stepped up to president-elect, and then president. Her time with TOWA has seen her graduate, get married, buy a house, and now she steps down to fulfill duties as a teacher and foster parent.

Newly elected president, Michael Bennett, is an active member and the Operations Director for the Sellmark Corporation. Bennett revised the record system and website, produces the TOWA monthly newsletter, schedules email blasts to members, and keeps the board on task.   

President-elect is Brooklee Grant. She joined TOWA several years ago after way-laying two coyotes at a pre-event hunt prior to the Annual TOWA Fall Stampede. Grant is employed by SilencerCo, recently brought Bergara to TOWA, and is a strong influencer for shooting sports and women in the outdoors.

Jeff Lichon is a director, current secretary, and is Texas’ connection to the Michigan Outdoor Writers Association. Lichon’s connections to the outdoor industry will prove invaluable in the future.

The newest board member is Jenn Nolan with Champions Outdoors. Her life on the Texas Gulf Coast brings angling, boating, and kayak sponsors aboard. Nolan also schedules weekends for families, and TOWA members, to kayak, camp, enjoy orienteering classes, archery and shooting events throughout the summer.

Sam Caldwell is a director that stands as the board’s connection to the Coastal Conservation Association, and never blanches at fundraising.

Rounding out the board is Herman Brune as chairman.

TOWA is growing once again from the ground up – and once more we could say it started in Port Arthur!   

About the author 

Herman W. Brune

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