Whoa Nelly! I won. Twice. Back-to-back first-place awards during Outdoor Writers Association of America’s (OWAA) annual conference. My very first time applying for awards as a member of this association landed me in Gulf Shores, Alabama, Sept. 9, through Sept. 11, 2023. As a veteran award-winning journalist and marketer, I’ve been in these types of rodeos before. However, topping the competition in outdoor fashion and annual reporting were brand-new category wins. In the “Blog, Gear/Technical Contest” for original digital feature “Made Together: Outdoor Afro + REI Co-op” and “Open Contest” for Outdoor Afro’s 2022 annual report titled “Year of Operations.” What a homecoming experience. Deep-rooted in the Georgia Black Belt Region, I owe these recognitions and past ones to good-old front porch storytelling and community fellowshipping. Natural parts of my Southern culture.
I actually made history for national not-for-profit organization Outdoor Afro – earning the brand’s first-ever communications awards as a OWAA member. Quick backstory to how my agriculture communications career detoured into the outdoor industry: I joined OWAA during June 2022. Outdoor Afro at the end of 2021 to elevate its strategic communications direction. As its only full-time newsroom staff, I lead Outdoor Afro’s Marketing & Communications Department. Within a year, I rebranded Outdoor Afro’s site and social presence. Continue to re-educate digital audiences and the general public about the brand’s nature and community work. My department contributes to organizational programming by using 21st-century traditional and new media approaches. Increasing brand awareness and online engagement.
Traveling across the United States to capture Outdoor Afro stories, I spend the bulk of my creative time shifting the visual representation of what Black joy looks like in the outdoors. Year-round I’m launching national marketing campaigns like Outdoor Afro’s Black History Month series, Juneteenth commemoration, Making Waves swim program, and Glamp Out fundraiser. In between 2023’s social activations and storytelling projects, I served as a first-time judge of trade show Outdoor Retailer’s 13th annual Inspiration Awards in Salt Lake City, Utah. Right before that, I became a 2023 “Black Women in Food” honoree. Cuisine and beverage agency Dine Diaspora recognized 31 innovative women throughout the African Diaspora. I joined talked food influencers in the “Amplifiers Category.” Thanks to rural contributions to Georgia Black Belt farming narratives of U.S. Department of Agriculture grant project Black Farmers’ Network.
A year prior, nonprofit Women of the West named me 2022 “Journalist of the Year” at the National Cowgirl Museum & Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas. An absolute blast celebrating with my American West cowgirls. That same year, I graced the digital pages of Ebony Magazine for its “Queen Sugar” finale coverage with my brother and fellow farmer: certified arborist Edward Morrow. Products of centennial farmland in Baldwin County, Georgia, Edward and I are fourth-generation cowhands who spent childhood to adulthood horseback riding, rodeoing, and stewarding family farmland. Safe to say: My editorial portfolio aligns with my everyday lifestyle to this day. Primarily devoted to Southern-based, rural farming communities. Helping them storytell, market, and brand in a now digital economy.
By way of Outdoor Afro, I’ve been able to leverage my agricultural upcoming and multigenerational experiences to develop interdisciplinary content that links outdoor, travel, and tourism industries. Researching, testing, and writing about modern agribusiness and agritourism possibilities for producers during these tech times. Prior to Outdoor Afro, I worked in both higher education and local newspapers. Held posts as editor and publications specialist at both Columbus State University and Georgia College & State University. Digital contributor of Georgia’s legal organ, Atlanta Journal-Constitution. And in both industries, this Georgia State University print journalism grad won first-place awards with Georgia Press Association in hard news and feature writing. Subsequent awards with the Council for Advancement and Support of Education in “Best Articles of the Year,” “Publication Writing,” “Video Script Writing,” and “Publication Rendering for Mobile Technology.” Like I said earlier, I’ve entered these rodeos before. Always on top in producing original, uplifting content.
Overseas, I joined London’s Black Beauty & Hair Magazine as a beauty writer and style consultant on a Black cowhand campaign for advertising agency M&C Saatchi. I still can’t believe I’ve collaborated with childhood brands my siblings and I naturally wore: Justin Boots, Wrangler, and Durango Boots. Most recently, I worked as content creator for REI Co-op and Cotopaxi. Publications Cowboys & Indians, Cowgirl Magazine, Outdoor Retailer’s The Daily, and Travel Weekly have featured me. Bananas. I’ve also worked hard to help rural Georgia farmers also garner earned media with major media outlets such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Nation, Thrillist, and CNN.
In addition to OWAA, I’m a member of travel outfits Wanderful and Future of Black Tourism. Served as a communications adviser for America the Beautiful for All Coalition and a committee member of Blue Sky Funders Forum. For nearly 100 years, OWAA has helped educate, inspire, and share best practices to outdoor creatives. Now, I help magnify its mission. As I pulled this post together, I realized: Everything I’ve accomplished came from a life of love and care for agricultural lifeways. I mean one heck of a rodeo ride. But as long as I’m able to document our relationships to land, water, and wildlife for newer generations to find inspiration, I’ll continue to put my best boot forward.