PRESIDENTS MESSAGE

Another SCOPE conference is now in our rear view mirror.  For those who attended, I hope you went home with fond memories.  For those who could not attend, you were missed and I hope to see you next year. First, a few highlights.  Regarding attendance, we must have been close to a record for our media attendance of SCOPE members.  We had over twenty media members in attendance and counting guests during the week and at the awards presentations, I think we had twenty-six in total.  Also, during the member meeting and awards presentation/auction, two joined by Zoom. Second, our auction was a great success. We made $4,412 from the auction which is enough to fund SCOPE next year and add to our reserve.  Thank you for all your efforts gathering items to auction, for bidding to support SCOPE whether you were present or on Zoom, and special thanks to Pete for coordinating the collection and the bidding.   Now for a few other highlights. On Wednesday, we began gathering at the hotel and kicked off our event with barbecue, beverages, and networking.   Thursday morning, our members were in the field or on the water.  Deer went into the cooler and fish made it onto ice.  You should have seen evidence of both on social media already.  Hopefully, stories will follow. In the afternoon, we gathered at South on Whiskey to hear Michael Hook and John Gribb talk about quail habitat and a successful project the two have been working on at John’s property.  Rumor has it that he is hiding some quail but he won’t say where. Gettys Brannon stopped by to introduce SCOPE to the South Carolina Boating and Fishing Alliance.  Their members are the companies with products we often photograph and write about.  We agreed that given our common interests we should have more conversations about working together. The Lowcountry Boil that followed was welcome and we managed to finish the leftovers that evening. On Friday morning, both hunters and fishers went to the Cowden Plantation.  A few fishermen went out on the Savannah River.  More deer went into the cooler and fish made it into photos.   In the afternoon, we toured Jarrett’s Rifle shop and the museum.  Both were remarkable.  Friday night we dined on ribs and chicken along with some fine side dishes.  Of course, beverages and networking closed the evening. Saturday was our indoor day with speakers, special awards, EIC awards, and our auction.  Tom Poland kicked it off with a presentation titled, “Taking Free Out of Freelancing.”  It was interesting to learn how Tom uses free material almost as advertising to attract paid assignments. Matt Stewart was our next speaker.  Matt is the current editor of Turkey Call Magazine and spoke about both their re-branding effort and the magazine redesign.  Regarding breaking into the magazine, he suggested that their online publication might be the place to start. To close out the morning, Lisa Snuggs, Executive Director of SEOPA, summarized the outdoor writing life in song.  We’ll invite Lisa back next year and convince her to plan on a longer set.  I joined Lisa to discuss trends and challenges facing outdoor media associations.   In the afternoon, Pete Rogers covered “Life After Magazines: Other Avenues of Content Creation.”  Pete did a great job describing how to break into markets for podcasts and video.   To close out our speakers, Dr. Gene Rhodes provided insight into two projects at SREL.  You’ll be happy to learn that sometime in the future, their car headlight design might prevent a collision with a whitetail.  The SREL database of their research could be a goldmine for your articles. We then moved on to our member meeting where we thanked our outgoing Board members P.J. Perea and Brian Carroll for their service.  They have done a great job on our Board.  We then voted to approve our incoming Board members Josh Lanier and Corey Hunt, along with our President-Elect, Larry Chesney.  I then had the pleasure of passing the gavel to Pete Rogers, President for the upcoming year. Also, we thanked Tricia for her exceptional work this year as our Executive Director.  She has been a pleasure to work with and helped us navigate a tough couple years with the pandemic closing many events and a conference two years in the making.  Another thank you went to Pat Robertson for his leadership over the last two years to pull off this conference.  He began with the Aiken Tourism team last year, and then was able to put together our trips to the field during this conference.  This conference would not have happened without his efforts.   Pete chaired our Board meeting and began laying out some ideas for next year.  Our next SCOPE conference will be at Lake Murray. During dinner, we began our silent auction and we had some spirited bidding.   After dinner, we began with a special award to Terry Madewell.  In recognition of his contribution to our organization, we will have the Terry Madewell EIC award in the coming years for the Best Hunting Story.  It’s rare to see Terry speechless, but this award came close to accomplishing just that. Next, Pat roasted Dan Kibler as he heads into retirement.  Dan’s friends and family were more than helpful providing the scoop on Dan.  Dan’s son, Andrew, came for the roast as well and the two of them both enjoyed Pat’s presentation as did the rest of us. Excellence In Craft Award presentations followed and you will receive separate information on the winners.  Thanks to Dan, P.J. and GOWA for collecting and judging all our entries.  Dan said we had over 100 entries this year.  Let me encourage everyone to enter next year. We closed with an entertaining live auction.  Pete nudged everyone to loosen their wallets and they did.  Thanks again to the donors, as well as the bidders online and in attendance. Thanks also to our sponsors, the Thoroughbred Country Regional Tourism Office, Aiken County Tourism, and the City of Aiken.  They worked with us for two years to make this conference happen. To close, let me say it has been an honor to serve this organization.  Everyone I asked for help pitched in and made this year a success.  Good luck to Pete and the new Board in the coming year. -Jim Mize