Florence, S.C., Offers Everything Needed for a Fun and Productive SEOPA Conference This Fall

Alan Clemons - Conference ChairmanSouth Carolina is known for its great outdoors opportunities and the 2018 SEOPA Conference in Florence will take full advantage of the Palmetto State's offerings October 3-6. From hunting and fishing in the Pee Dee River area during pre- and post-conference outings, to our conference workshops featuring several hands-on outdoors opportunities, attendees will be able to enjoy a combination of learning and fun.

Networking is always an important part of any conference, but it's extra special at a SEOPA gathering. Holly Beaumier and her team at the Florence Convention and Visitors Bureau are joining forces with downtown restaurateurs to make sure the first night of elbow-rubbing, hugging old friends and making new ones will be one for the books!

Cost is only $125 per person if paid before September 10. Corporate members may partake in the Tourism Showcase, Breakout Day and/or the Shooting Day for an additional fee of only $150.

Members may register here.  

Check out the agenda here.

See pre- and post-conference media trips here.

Not a member? Join here.

To learn more about Florence click here.

C.O.R.P. Biz Newsletter (Special conference Info for Corporate Members)

The Conference:  Adapt, Evolve and Move Forward

Our conference seminar lineup this year has a range of topics and speakers intimately plugged into adaption, evolution and forward progress. Here are some highlights:

Gadson• Our keynote speaker is Col. Gregory D. Gadson, USA (retired), a Chesapeake, Va., native who will address us during lunch on Thursday, Oct. 4. Gadson was graduated in 1989 from the United States Military Academy at West Point, and has served multiple tours of duty around the world including in Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Gadson will share words of inspiration and motivation based on his vast array of life experience and his own ability to rise above adversity. His attendance is with great thanks to Hope for the Warriors and longtime SEOPA member Karen Lee.

Cyrus• What’s the future of hunting and youth? Cyrus Baird, the Programs Director with the Council to Advance Hunting and The Shooting Sports, will provide insight on current data, trends and growing efforts about recruitment and retention.

Whit• Whit Gibbons returns with his incredibly popular session on snakes of the Southeast. Gibbons will bring some commonly known snakes of the Southeast that we encounter and discuss them along with answering questions.

Rob Simbeck• Successful book author and SEOPA Past President Rob Simbeck will give practical, proven tips about the business side of selling books. If you’re writing a book with the intent to sell it to make money then you have to approach it as a business. Simbeck knows the ropes and will give us the skinny.

Lindsay• How will deer hunters, agencies and businesses adapt to today’s biggest whitetail threat? Chronic Wasting Disease is real, spreading, and more research is being uncovered each year about its mysterious effect on deer and elk. Lindsay Thomas with Quality Deer Management Association will offer the latest update in a session that should be of interest to anyone who communicates with whitetail deer hunters.

• Who flies drones and why? A lot of people do, because it’s a great way to shoot video or still images to expand your communications offerings and possibly open new doors to revenue. Chris Brown of AnglersChannel.com, and previously with several other fishing industry stalwarts, will lend his expertise about Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, aka “drones,” along with a hands-on session at our great Breakout site, Moree’s Sportsmans Preserve.

Doug• We’re all guilty of having a good gaffe in our past, finding something in print that made us chuckle or hearing ourselves on television or radio with an “Ooops!” moment. Longtime SEOPA member and communicator Doug Kelly of Florida has collected literary bloopers over the years and will give us a super presentation that’s sure to make us laugh as well as teach us what not to do! Kelly’s background includes stints as managing editor of Florida Sportsman magazine, editor of Sport Fishing magazine, editor-in-chief of Traveling Sportsman magazine, newspaper columnist, host of a syndicated radio talk show, host and producer of two cable TV series, blogger for Visit Florida, and a video producer and travel writer for the Tampa Tribune, Miami Herald and other publications.

Chris• When you’ve been on a great trip fishing, hunting, camping or otherwise, have you ever thought that it would be great to turn that into a travel story along with your regular hook-and-bullet story? Chris Batin has done exactly that for 45 years by combining his communications skills, knowledge of his regional readership and his travels throughout the United States, Canada, Alaska, Asia, Russia, Thailand and South America. Batin will provide two information-packed sessions about learning the ropes of travel writing, and how to build your regional empire.

Tim• Tim Wagner contends that Crisis Communications has always been the most stressful and least fun part of public relations and that social media platforms and a 24-hour news cycle makes it more complex than ever. He will offer tips on how to create a flexible response plan that categorizes crises and gives you a framework for responding – or perhaps not responding at all. Wagner will also divulge what he has learned about maximizing your email lists. He will teach you how to target digital and social advertising with your email lists, and see how segmenting lists and designing multiple creative concepts can help you win at different stages of the sales funnel. Wagner has spent his 22-year career in marketing, advertising, and public relations.

Bryan• Feature writing is more important than ever, and it could be your ticket to more lucrative assignments. It's a lost art in the age of “how-to, where-to,” but readers love a good story, and features are still the best way to build and keep an audience. Bryan Hendricks has been in the newspaper business for 21 years. Since 2005, he has been the Outdoors editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, one of only a few newspapers that still employs a full-time, salaried outdoor writer. He has also worked for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and the Missouri Department of Conservation, and is also a former editor for Game & Fish Publications. Hendricks writes two weekly columns and covers hard news events pertaining to the outdoors, but feature writing is Hendricks’s specialty. Join him as he shares the secrets for writing the kind of feature stories that keep the paychecks coming.

Heather Crozier• Heather Crozier, director of Development for the Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences (SFWS), will share details at the upcoming SEOPA conference about an exciting new program being offered at Auburn.

The University’s Wildlife Enterprise Management degree is one of only two such programs in the United States. This cross-disciplinary degree program, founded on the basic principles of wildlife management, hospitality services, and business management, ensures that graduates are prepared for employment at any of the thousands of hunting and fishing lodges, ranches, corporate retreat facilities, and other consumptive use facilities worldwide.

Crozier will discuss the details of this new major and the skillset those students will gain through access to a wide range of internship opportunities across the globe. This combination of innovative classroom instruction and real-world experience assures graduates are able to take advantage of abundant career opportunities.

Crozier is responsible for the SFWS office’s day-to-day operation as well as planning, development and execution of its major fundraising initiatives. A native of Tuskegee, Ala., she graduated from Auburn University in 1998 with a degree in Public Administration. After graduation she went to work in a consumer marketing role with Anheuser Busch before returning to Auburn University where she has worked in various roles within the Office of Development for 16 years.

Heather grew up trailing her granddaddy in the woods most days after school where he taught her how to hunt, fish, look for arrowheads and appreciate being outdoors. She and her husband John now spend most of their free time fishing, hunting and camping with their three dogs, as well as chasing big reds off the Georgia Coast near Crooked River and Cumberland Island. Cozier is a member of various volunteer and professional organizations, including SEOPA.

• Don McKenzie is all about quail. He earned his B.S. in Wildlife Management at Auburn University in 1984, and his M.S. in Wildlife at the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1987. His graduate research was on utilization of natural moist-soil food resources by waterfowl on Mingo NWR in southeast Missouri. A side project, conducted to construct water and nutrient budgets within enclosed moist-soil impoundments, documented long-term risks to the sustainability of plant productivity and waterfowl habitat values. Don joined the South Carolina Waterfowl Association as Chief Biologist in 1987, helping start and grow the new group. He advanced to Washington, D.C, in early 1991 to join the Wildlife Management Institute as Conservation Policy Coordinator, working primarily on agricultural and wetland conservation policy for more than six years. Don left WMI in 1997 to raise his children in the Southeast, and began work for the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission as assistant chief of Wildlife Management, where he supervised the Programs Section for more than two years. In late 1999, Don returned to WMI as the Southeast Field Representative. In autumn 2004, Don accepted a long-term assignment from WMI to the former Southeast Quail Study Group, as the coordinator for the then-named Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative. In October 2009, Don was employed by the University of Tennessee, the new national operational center for the NBCI, but continues to work out of his home in Chattanooga, Tenn., while providing national leadership for bobwhite and native grassland restoration across the eastern half of the U.S.

Daryl Ratajczak• Daryl Ratacjzak will be on hand during the conference registration day to share details and a slide show of the successful SWAP between wildlife biology students in New Mexico and Tennessee. Daryl is one of those lucky people who knew from an early age exactly what he wanted to do with his life. Daryl’s father worked tirelessly in a cereal factory but took his kids camping, hunting, or fishing during each vacation. Daryl realized he wanted to spend his life reliving those wonderful days in the outdoors. He received his B.S. in Wildlife Management from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry and soon began his life-long passion of living and working in the great outdoors.

His first wildlife job after receiving his degree landed him outside of Great Smoky Mountains National Park where he managed a small nonprofit organization called the Appalachian Bear Center. From there he secured a Wildlife manager position with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and within a few years he was promoted to the Big Game Program coordinator for the state and was subsequently put in charge of managing the state’s black bear, white-tailed deer, elk, and wild hog programs.

Daryl was soon promoted to chief of Wildlife and Forestry for the state of Tennessee, having achieved the highest wildlife position in the state in less than ten years. After serving as chief for five years, he eventually realized that position removed him from the field and freely talking about his passions, so he decided to get back to what he loves doing most, but this time, in an area he had long dreamed of working––the American West!

Daryl now lives in the Southern Rockies and gets to see elk, bear, mule deer, antelope, and big horn almost on a daily basis. Besides being a career wildlife biologist, Daryl is an accomplished writer and has been published in numerous wildlife-related magazines. He also has a passion and knack for teaching, which is why he founded “Wildlife for You,” so he could bring his passion for wildlife to all who are interested.

But wait, there’s more! Tourism showcase, awards banquet, auction, metal detector treasure hunt, K-9 demonstration, ATV and truck demos, treestand safety demos, and, as always, excellent food and hospitality!

Bring your boots, cameras, notepads, recorders and pens, and get ready for a multitude of interesting possibilities. Whether indoors or outdoors, SEOPA members will enjoy the South Carolina sunshine and hospitality this fall. Register below and heck back here often for updates and publication of the conference agenda.

Members may register here.

Check out the agenda here.

Not a member? Join here.

To learn more about Florence click here.