The Outdoor Writers Association of California (OWAC) presented Bishop resident, Gigi de Jong, their most prestigious award, Writer of the Year, at their annual conference held in northern California last week (Monday, May 20th). Gigi also won three first place category awards for writing and photography.
The awards were presented by Carrie Wilson, OWAC President, and Bob Semerau, OWAC Executive Director who said that the panel was impressed by the body of work produced by Gigi during 2018 for which the awards were given.
“This is such an honor to be recognized by my peers,” said Gigi. “I am inspired by the members of this organization who are prolific and talented and I’m truly grateful to be part of such a distinguished group.”
The majority of Gigi’s work is about travel and adventure in and around Bishop, most of which is published on the BishopVisitor.com blog page. She is part of a team to promote responsible and sustainable tourism in the Eastern Sierra. Her articles cover a wide range of things to do and places to see that impressed the judges with the diversity of subjects and quality of writing.
First place was awarded to the website, BishopVisitor.com, in the category Best Outdoor Medium. According the OWAC contest rules, “The OWAC member will be recognized for having submitted the winning entry,” but this award is given to the medium for “the overall excellence of its outdoor reporting.” Best Outdoor Medium is considered to be one of OWAC’s most prestigious awards.
“I am so thrilled to be part of an amazing team that produces such quality work,” Gigi said. “Thank you to Tawni Thompson, Executive Director of the Bishop Chamber of Commerce, and Julie Faber, our fearless team leader, for the opportunity to write for this incredible project.”
“This award is for everyone who works on this team and promotes our beautiful big backyard,” she said.
In the category Best Outdoor Series, Gigi won first place for her three-part series on Bishop entitled Bishop by Air, Bishop by Land, and Bishop by the Water. And a set of fall color photos, published on californiafallcolor.com, was awarded first place in the category Best Outdoor Photographic Series.
Members of the statewide association met at the Mt. Shasta Resort in Siskiyou county to discuss their craft and elect members to the Board of Directors, at the annual general meeting. Gigi was elected to the board and will act as a director of the organization.
The conference serves as a platform to recognize its members’ achievements in reporting on outdoor recreation, stewardship, conservation, and education of local environmental issues in California. Awards were given in 29 categories. The conference also provides an opportunity for the delegates to learn about outdoor adventure travel, the local environment, and its economic impact in the host region.
The hosts Discover Siskiyou laid out the red carpet for the group and showed what northern California has to offer. The delegates could choose from a variety of outdoor activities to experience firsthand how the county is a leader in responsible tourism and an economic driver for the region. Presentations on organic and humane farming practices were also included in the program to demonstrate the region’s commitment to a healthy, sustainable environment.
“I encourage everyone to travel,” said Gigi. “As much as I love my home town of Bishop, I also love all that this great state has to offer. Come play in our big backyard and also … go discover Siskiyou.”
OWAC is a non-profit association of media professionals who communicate the vast array of outdoor recreational opportunities and related issues in California and the surrounding western region. The membership includes newspaper and magazine staffers, freelance writers, book authors, radio broadcasters, video producers, editors, photographers, artists, lecturers and information officers.
OWAC was founded in 1986 to expand public information on outdoor recreation and conservation, provide professional craft improvement, and increase recognition of outdoor writing as a specialized field among media and educational institutions.