SEOPA Announces Winners of the 2020 Excellence in Craft and Sharon Rushton Awards

BADIN, N.C. — Outstanding communicators who work in a wide variety of media platforms were honored by the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association during an online presentation Wednesday evening, September 23. Fifty members submitted 263 entries that were judged by more than 40 experts.

The EIC awards, sponsored by Realtree, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, and the Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association, celebrate the best among SEOPA members’ works of the last year. Categories range across print, web and broadcast media. New aspects were added to the contest structure this year with awards for social media posts and three “Best Overall” categories that award one winner each for Hunting and/or Fishing Stories, News Stories, and Non-Consumptive Stories.

SEOPA Second Vice President and 2020 EIC Chairman Josh Honeycutt said, “The updated EIC format is a sleeker, more modernized contest that we’ll continue to adapt and grow in the future, and it continues to be a close competition among some of the most talented outdoor communicators in the country.”

Monte Burke placed in three categories with “The Everglades’ Wild Hope”. This in-depth piece, published in Garden & Gun magazine and at, won second place in the Electronic Publishing and Magazine Story categories and was named Best Overall Non-Consumptive story.

Jim Spencer also has one piece of work recognized in three areas. “The Loaner Gun:  Paying It Forward” which was published in the January issue of Turkey Country placed third in the Magazine category and was awarded the Best Overall Hunting and Fishing Story. It also won the coveted Sharon Rushton Award. Sponsored by Daisy, this award goes to the one entry deemed to best represent work created for and/or about youth in the outdoors. Its namesake, Sharon Rushton, was a beloved and important member of the fishing industry and a past president and longtime member of SEOPA.

One judge said of the Sharon Rushton Award, “This category had many exceptional entries. The future of the outdoors and conservation rests in the hands of these youth, and hearing stories like some of these leaves me feeling optimistic and excited for what is to come.”

The top spot in the Magazine Story category went to Jim Mize for “The Christmas Gift” published in South Carolina Wildlife and first place in the Industry Public Relations category was awarded to Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association for its coffee table book titled Black Belt Bounty.

Chris Brown, a newcomer to the contest, won first place in the Photography category for an image he captured of tournament angler Hank Cherry when he was crowned the 2020 Bassmaster Classic World Champion. The photograph is called “Redemption” to reflect the seven years it took Cherry to claim the victory that narrowly escaped him in the 2013 Classic.

The complete list of winners follows and links to the winning entries (if applicable) can be found at SEOPA 2020 EIC Award Winners.