Wisconsin Outdoor Communicators Assn.

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Minutes of Annual Meetings

Minutes of 2019 Annual Meeting

Minutes, Wisconsin Outdoor Communicators Association, July20, 2019


The business meeting was called to order by President, Pat Durkin, at approximately 4:05pm.


The first order of business was the presentation of the 2019 WOCA Scholarship to recipient Ryan Esch, from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Ryan is a Biology, Ecology and Management, and Spanish major.  The award was presented by Pat Durking and Mark LaBarbara.


Approval of the Minutes 2018 Meeting

The minutes of the meeting were distributed and there were no recommended changes or additions. Jerry Kiesow moved to approve the minutes as written, and it was seconded by Jeff Vander Logt. The motion was approved.


Approval of  the Treasurer’s Report

The treasurer’s report was distributed and reviewed. There was discussion on the budgeted amount for the scholarship and Trees for Tomorrow.


The Scholarship amount was set at $2,000 last year for a one year time period. Jeff Vander Logt moved to extend the Scholarship for next year at $2,000, seconded by Art Barlow. The amount of the Scholarship will be voted on each year based on financial status. Motion was approved.  


Tim Eisle made a motion to award Trees for Tomorrow $200, seconded by Art Barlow. Motion was approved.


Roger Vander Logt made a motion to pay our officers the same honorariums as last year, seconded by Jerry Kiesow. Motion was approved.


            President/Annual Meeting Organizer $750

            Prize Chair      $500

            Newsletter Editor       $250

            Vice President            $100

            Treasurer                    $100


Motion by Jeff Vander Logt to approve the treasurer’s report, seconded by Jim Bishop. Motion approved.


Election of Officers and Board Members


Elections for officers and board of directors were held. The current officers were re-elected to another term.


            President – Pat Durkin

            Vice President – Bob Haase

            Secretary/Treasurer – Laurel Steffes

            Newsletter Editor – Laurel Steffes


Bob Wilberscheid is stepping down from his position on the board and the scholarship committee due to health reasons. Dave Zeug volunteered to replace Bob Wilberscheid on the scholarship committee and was approved by unanimous consent. El Culhane volunteered to replace Bob Wilberscheid on the board. Bob Haase made a motion to approve Ed Culhane for the open board position, seconded by Jerry Kiesow. Motion approved.  


Motion by Ken Anderson to approve the current slate of officers, seconded by Nick Vander Puy. Motion approved.


After adding this to the agenda for discussion and approval, Dave Zeug made a motion to award Laurel Steffes an Honorary Lifetime Membership in WOCA for all her work with WOCA. It was approved unanimously.


Three dates were presented for next year’s conference: July 17-18, July 24-25, and July 31-Aug 1. The majority of those in attendance selected July 17-18. Pat will confirm and make the arrangements with Trees for Tomorrow.


There was discussion on ways to recruit new members to WOCA. After discussion on this matter it was suggested that all members work to recruit new members throughout the year. There were comments about the barriers to join and why we couldn’t recruit more members, especially considering the quality of this conference with the great programs and presenters. Everyone agreed that this was a great conference. The people that were not present were not aware of the quality of the programs and that we needed to promote that and the value of being a member and attending the conference.


Motion was made by Jim Bishop and seconded by Jeff Vander Logt to adjourn. Meeting adjourned about 4:30pm.

Minutes of 2018 Annual Meeting


Minutes, Wisconsin Outdoor Communicators, July 21, 2018

34 paid members – setting a modern attendance record -- attended the annual meeting at Trees for Tomorrow in Eagle River. Many speakers attended the cookout and stayed overnight to participate in the meeting. Six new WOCA members were in attendance: Jim Swanson (Wisconservation editor), Leah Bell (2018 scholarship recipient), Dave Roll (OHEC); and joining during the meeting: Rob Bohmann (Wisconsin Conservation Congress), George Meyer (Wisconsin Wildlife Federation) and Tom Hauge (Wisconsin Green Fire). Winning the honor of traveling the farthest to the meeting was Professor Tom Heberlein, who traveled from Sweden to attend.


The WOCA Constitution and Bylaws were reviewed in the business meeting (see below), and it was agreed that officers would serve until they desire to step down or resign, consequently officers were unanimously reaffirmed as follows:

  • President—Patrick Durkin
  • Vice President/Webmaster – Bob Haase
  • Secretary/Treasurer – Laurel Steffes
  • Newsletter editor – Laurel Steffes

WOCA Board of Directors:

Tom Muench, Art Barlow, Jerry Kiesow; Bob Wilberscheid; Dave Zeug; Bob Haase; Lisa Gaumnitz, Dave Carlson, Roger Sabota. No board member elections were held. It was agreed that board members would continue to serve until/or if they desire to resign or others are interested in serving. We will review annually at the meeting.


The budget report was reviewed and approved. It needs to be noted that the treasury is in excellent shape; only a few short years ago WOCA was flat broke, with Tim Eisele having to bail the treasury out from his own pocket.

President/annual meeting organizer: $750

Prize chair: $500

Newsletter editor: $250

Vice President: $100

Treasurer: $100

Secretary $100

The annual silent auction to fund the WOCA/OHEC scholarship was held. Members were asked to contact and/or write to donors of prizes and auction goods and to thank them for their support of WOCA. Contact information for the donor is available from Patrick Durkin, the auction chair; and Laurel Steffes, treasurer. Written thanks are critical in maintaining the interest of donors. Members are urged to note that proceeds from silent auctions to WOCA members fund WOCA’s scholarships for emerging outdoor writers. The auction did exceedingly well this year.

In addition, Patrick Durkin donated a compound bow and six tickets to the Green Bay Packers Family night (deluxe seats on the 50-yard line for a scrimmage and related activities) to test a new fundraising activity. Members were urged to buy squares on each of two 49-square grids. A winning square was drawn during the business meeting for each – Jim Swanson winning the bow, and new member George Meyer winning the tickets. The aim was to see if it would be useful to use WOCA funds to purchase an item for the activity, but it was agreed that didn’t not appear to be a cost-effective option. The two items did raise $270 total. It was suggested that members consider donating an item – in new or excellent condition as Pat did -- for 2019 squares. An appeal will be sent out before the 2019 meeting. Members may have duplicate or unused outdoor equipment that would qualify. They need only donate and get it to the meeting. Officers will construct the grid.

Other budget business:

  • Trees for Tomorrow is celebrating its 75th anniversary with extensive plans for renovations, construction of an outdoor classroom, and more. WOCA typically donates $250 per year to Trees. This year, as a one-time recognition of the anniversary and thanks for Trees hospitality, the group unanimously agreed to double WOCA’s donation to $500. Also tacitly approved was a $150 annual dues payment to the Conservation Hall of Fame.
  • Costs for the Friday night cookout were largely provided by Toyota. Attendance for the chicken or beef shish kabab and fireman’s corn event was the highest in memory. In spite of rain and wind, the cookout went on. Many thanks to chef Ed Culhane and griller Bob Haase and others. Toyota (Curt McAllister) donated $400 for the event. Culhane was reimbursed for his costs.
  • Patrick Durkin confirmed he is making an annual $10 payment to the Department of Revenue to continue our nonprofit corporation registration, and WOCA is in good standing.
  • For the fourth year in a row, member Jenny Sereno donated $250 to fund WOCA’s scholarship program. Many thanks to Jenny for her extraordinary support. The Outdoor Heritage Education Center confirmed its continuing $500 support for the scholarship. In addition, Ed Culhane donated $50 for the scholarship, and two other members rounded out conference payments to donate to the fund. Given the strength of the 2018 auction, the donations, and the relative health of the treasury, WOCA members voted unanimously to increase the scholarship amount for 2019 to $2,000. The increase is approved for one year only; the amount will be evaluated in 2019 in light of WOCA funds.


2017 Minutes were approved.

Other items:

  • Websites: WOCA’s website can be found at W-O-C-A.org. Bob Haase is our webmaster. Haase reports our domain needed to be renewed this year. A change to the WOCA website format regarding posting of internal newsletters to members will be made. (See below under bylaws update.) The number of member bios is slowly growing. Bob urged members to contribute bios as they give much credibility to the website. Volunteer FB page editors are encouraged to step forward. Based on presentations at the 2018 meeting, the following websites may be of interest:

Wisconsin Wildlife Federation -- http://www.wiwf.org/

Wisconsin Wetlands Association -- https://wisconsinwetlands.org/

Wis. DNR CWD study -- https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/research/projects/dpp/

Recruit, Reactivate and Retain -- https://dnr.wi.gov/news/input/documents/guidance/AnglerR3GrantGuidance.pdf

Grandview Media Outdoors Group -- http://colepublishing.com/


DNR programs – http://dnr.wi.gov

Wisconsin Conservation Congress -- https://dnr.wi.gov/about/wcc/

  • 2019 Conference: Members selected July 19-21 at Trees for Tomorrow for next year’s annual conference. Once again in this year, Trees provided two cabins (Pine and Hemlock dorms) for housing, relieving the uncomfortable crowding experienced in previous years. Still, the popularity of the 2018 conference resulted is some doubling up. Laurel has already talked to Trees about reserving three cabins for 2019. The goal is to give everyone a private room.

  • Scholarship Update: The 2018 scholarship winner, Leah Bell, attended the full WOCA meeting and said the experience was valuable. She is a junior at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point majoring in Wildlife Ecology, with minors in environmental communication and Spanish. When applying, Bell noted that the scholarship would open doors in her career field, writing: “A membership and connections to people in the WOCA would bring me closer to my dream career of writing for some type of wildlife magazine.” As a high school senior, Bell won second place in the Wisconsin Outdoor News newspaper writing contest. “First Hunt” is one of the two stories featured in the attachment to this newsletter.

As our scholarship recipient, Bell’s expenses for the WOCA annual meeting and 2018 WOCA membership are paid. She also shadowed Pat Durkin for an afternoon this spring. The annual $1,500 WOCA/OHEC scholarship is funded through proceeds from the annual meeting’s silent auction and contributions from OHEC, Jennifer Sereno and other individual members.

During the scholarship discussion Bell asked if former winners could apply again. The scholarship committee conferred and unanimously agreed that the purpose of the scholarship is to encourage budding outdoor communicators and is most effective by helping as many different students as possible. Therefore, former winners would not be eligible to win a second WOCA/OHEC scholarship. Scholarship Committee members are Art Barlow, Bob Wilberscheid, and Laurel Steffes.

  • Bylaws Update: Pat asked members to review the WOCA Constitution and Bylaws, with additions and modifications based on Tim Eisele’s records of organizational intent and current operating norms. All changes were approved unanimously with one modification: Newsletters keyed to the four seasons will be replaced with news sent on a need-to-know, timely ad hoc basis. The website will be modified to show WOCA member communications under news. The newsletter menu option on the website will be consolidated under news.
  • Legislation: Though on the agenda, time prohibited a recap of efforts to establish a state fund to pay out of pocket licenses expenses for disabled veterans. A recap is below.**

  • Endorsements discussion: Member Dave Zeug raised the question as to whether or not WOCA was able/open to endorsing candidates. A review of the Constitution and Bylaws indicate it is not. In addition, a number of members expressed discomfort with the idea. As an alternative, Zeug indicated interested members could join him in purchasing an ad in Wisconsin Outdoor News outlining issues/endorsements. A signup sheet was passed around. In light of OWAA’s recent experience, any members participating in the ad were asked to not link WOCA or WOCA membership as part of signatures. Anyone interested in further information should contact Dave Zeug.
  • Group photo: A group photo was taken at lunch.

Laurel Steffes, Secretary/Treasurer

July 21, 2018

**Veteran License Fund Legislation recap: At the 2016 and 2017 annual meetings, WOCA members discussed working with legislators to establish a state account to help pay out-of-pocket costs for disabled veterans’ hunting and fishing licenses in Wisconsin. Wisconsin currently offers discounts for disabled vets when they buy a license, but there’s still an out-of-pocket expense. [Outdoor writers in other states have mounted similar initiatives.] WOCA member Jim Bishop, Spooner, indicated his veterans group would contribute to an account if it existed. Accordingly, Art Barlow was asked by the WOCA membership to seek Rep. Nick Milroy’s (who spoke at the 2017 annual meeting) help in moving legislation.

Milroy’s bill moved through the Assembly with enthusiastic support. Many WOCA members contacted legislators, and registered or testified in favor of the bill. Unfortunately, it took some time to get the bill heard in Senate committee and the chair, Sen. Tom Tiffany, didn’t bring it up for a committee vote before the legislative session ended. It’s currently dead.

Rep. Milroy said he intends to introduce the bill again in the next legislative session, but it will have to go through the committees again, pass the Assembly and Senate, and then be signed into law by the governor. For more information visit: https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2017/proposals/ab665, or contact Mary Lou Keleher, aide to Rep. Nick Milroy, marylou.keleher@legis.wi.gov

Here is a synopsis of action prepared by the Legislative Reference Bureau:

Assembly Bill 665 was introduced on November 22, 2017, as a Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus proposal. Following are the list of authors and co-sponsors: Introduced by Reps. Milroy, Kleefisch, Allen, Anderson, Berceau, Bernier, Bowen, Considine, Crowley, Fields, Genrich, Hebl, Hesselbein, Hintz, Kremer, Krug, Meyers, Mursau, Ott, Pope, Ripp, Shankland, Sinicki, Spiros, Spreitzer, Thiesfeldt, Tittl, Tranel, Tusler, Vruwink, Wachs, Zamarripa, Zepnick and Kitchens; cosponsored by Senators Moulton, Miller, Bewley, Carpenter, Erpenbach, Hansen, Johnson, Larson, Marklein, Testin, Vinehout, L. Taylor and Olsen.

Representatives Brostoff, Barca & Rohrkaste added their names as co-sponsors later. (that’s a total of 37 representatives and 13 senators.)

The Assembly Committee on Natural Resources & Sporting Heritage held a public hearing on December 6, 2017. Testifying in support of the bill were:

· Rep. Nick Milroy, 73rd Assembly District

· Tim Eisele, freelance writer and WOCA member

· Lee Fahrney, American Legion Post 142 and WOCA

· Larry Bonde, Wisconsin Conservation Congress

· George Meyer, Wisconsin Wildlife Federation

Registering in favor were Mike Furgal, Foreign Wars VFW & Sen. Terry Moulton. No one testified or registered against the bill.

AB 665 was passed by the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources & Sporting Heritage on Jan. 9, 2018, with a 15-0 vote.

On Jan. 23, 2018, AB 665 was passed by the Wisconsin State Assembly with a vote of 92-0.

The Senate Committee on Sporting Heritage, Mining & Forestry held a public hearing on AB 665 on Jan. 24, 2018. Testifying in support of the bill were:

· Rep. Nick Milroy, 73rd Assembly District

· Sen. Terry Moulton, 23rd Senate District

· Tim Eisele, freelance writer and member of WOCA

Past WOCA Newsletters 

To view any of the WOCA past Newsletters, just click on the appropriate link below.  As of 2018 we have discontinued the newsletter and will post all related information under "News".  This will allow us to post all information as soon as it becomes available and not wait to put it in the form of a newsletter. 

Minutes of Meetings

To View any of the WOCA Minutes of Meetings, just click on the appropriate link below.

Approved Minutes from 2016 Annual Meeting

Draft Minutes from 2017 Annual Meeting