By President Virginia Parker Staat
With heavy hearts and a unanimous decision, RMOWP’s Board of Directors, Conference Committee, and staff have voted to cancel our 2020 conference scheduled in Alamogordo, New Mexico, from October 5-8. RMOWP has held annual conferences since 1974. This is the first time we have cancelled. Due to COVID-19 concerns, however, we face tremendous uncertainty about our ability to provide a safe and positive experience for participants. Your health and safety are our utmost concern.
At this time, we also have no reliable way to measure accessibility to different conference venues, planned field trips, and various meeting areas. Currently, White Sands National Park has begun a phased re-opening. However, parts of the park remain closed and group activities are limited. Our contact at the park advised that because New Mexico is taking a cautious approach to reopening, group size and access to various park areas will most likely be limited throughout the remainder of the year.
RMOWP is certainly not the only group facing event cancellations. Concerns about a possible second wave of the virus this fall (and uncertainty about New Mexico’s health order response if that were to happen) have left many organizations wondering about their options. As we look to other groups with upcoming events, we have learned that both the Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in October and the Festival of the Cranes at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in November have also been cancelled.
In spite of all this uncertainty, however, we also have good news to report. We plan to go ahead with this year’s photo and writing contest (see page 4). Entry deadline has been advanced to July 15, 2020. Please check our website (rmowp.org) for contest rules and entry forms.
Plans for our RMOWP 2021 conference are also underway. In order to regain momentum and, hopefully, attract the greatest number of participants, we have rescheduled the 2021 conference to take place in Alamogordo, New Mexico, nearer our membership base. We hope you’ll join us for a pre-conference photo workshop, a sand dune photography workshop, writing workshops, and more.
We are also excited about RMOWP’s 2022 conference. It will be held in Fort Davis, Texas, during a new moon and under the star-filled skies of the Davis Mountains. During the 2022 conference, we hope you’ll join us for a night sky photo workshop and lots of Texas-style fun.
On behalf of RMOWP, thank you for your continued support and understanding during these unprecedented times. Let’s stay connected until our next conference through phone calls, emails, letters, and social media. (Remember that RMOWP is now on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/outdoorwritersandphotogs/ ). We hope to see each of you next year in Alamogordo. Until then, blessings and good health to each of you.