By Otha Barham
The many fans of Mike Giles' fine writing on this page and elsewhere now have another reason to celebrate with us . Last week Mike received one of his most prestigious awards yet. The Southeastern Outdoor Press Association (SEOPA) presented Mike with a second place award in the category of Best Magazine Feature of the year. His article in the November 2011 issue of Mississippi Sportsman magazine was his winning story. Let me explain why any of the top three places awarded in this category is a near impossible feat and deserves wide acclaim.
Outdoor writers from more than 15 states compete in this crowded category. And the outdoor subject matter is not specified; that is entrants must compete with all outdoor articles submitted covering all outdoor topics. If you go to a magazine outlet such as Books-A-Million and check the outdoor magazines, every month you will find articles written by SEOPA members. And most of the articles are authored by full time professional writers, the best in the United States. Mike's article had to be judged against this kind of competition.
Beyond the 14 states that SEOPA has embraced as membership states, many writers from other states have chosen to join our ranks because of SEOPA's reputation of excellence. We have members from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Oklahoma, North Dakota; in all, 32 states and one foreign country. SEOPA is said to be the strongest outdoor communicator group in the nation, including the national outdoor writer's organization. Mike Giles communicates with many of these people, especially at our annual conference like the one held last week in Johnson City, Tennessee. His representing our local area is a valuable undertaking.
As one may note in today's column, Mike Giles is one of the most observant outdoor enthusiasts who knows how to communicate desirable experiences available to us in nature. He lives and breathes the outdoors and his writing skills are right up there with the best and most respected writers.
Mike's writing talent is built from the ground up in the outdoor field. That is he first learned an enormous amount from years of experiences in outdoor pursuits as a youngster. Perhaps this explains his emphasis on arranging outdoor encounters for youngsters at every opportunity.
Also he is a faithful promoter of the East Mississippi area as a desirable destination for recreation and quality of life that enhances local economics. "An award such as this is just one more call to attention the outdoor treasures we have here and all throughout the outdoors and our dedication to communicate these blessings," he said.
Mike's popularity among fellow writers and photographers from across the nation is something he sees as an opportunity to promote our area and its bounties.
Never one to rest from his work, Mike was a member of a group that competed at last week's conference with other photographer groups in photographing conference site entities. His group won first place in that competition. His excellence seems to never end.