And The OL 25 Winner Is…

Excerpts from Outdoor Life Editor Todd Smith’s speech at the SHOT Show…. It’s hard to believe that the OL 25 program is already in its third year. It seems like just yesterday we were brainstorming about how to unroll what was then just a fledgling idea. But here we are with our third group of honorees, and the OL 25 has become an established program with widespread appeal. And, as Eric said, the validity of the program is proved by the fact that this year’s group is as stellar as the two that have come before. As we continue to discover, the Outdoor Life 25 is a growing franchise that introduces us to new people and more incredible efforts every year. Our categories remain the same–Leaders, Innovators, Conservationists and Unsung Heroes–but the new faces demonstrate that the ranks of sportsmen are filled with many dedicated, inspiring individuals. Thanks so much to all of you. You make every one of us proud to be sportsmen. Today it’s our pleasure to give special recognition to 25 amazing men and women. In many ways, they are just like you and me–they have a passion for the outdoors, for wildlife, and for the sports we all love so much. But they have distinguished themselves by going the extra mile–reaching out to teach others, to lead conservation efforts, to make equipment that’s better and safer–to help us, in short, enjoy our sports to the fullest and for generations to come. And for this we honor them among the OL 25. All of you deserve our gratitude and thanks. Because through your efforts, all sportsmen benefit.
I’d like to take a moment to read the names of this year’s Outdoor Life 25 honorees and the category in which you are being honored. And may I add that, whatever the category, you are all leaders, because you all inspire us by your example, your dedication and your generosity. I’ll be reading your names alphabetically and would ask that each of you please stand as your name is read and remain standing until all the names are called. 1. Lowell Baier Conservationist 2. Guy Baldassare Conservationist 3. David Baron Unsung Hero 4. Howard Beeson Unsung Hero 5. Randy & Coni Brooks Leaders 6. Frank Brownell Leader 7. Yvon Chouinard Leader 8. Jim Crumley Innovator 9. Tom Fruechtel Leader 10. Gary Glass Unsung Hero 11. Randy Grove Innovator 12. Margaret Hornady Leader 13. Michael Kapp Conservationist 14. Karl Malone Leader 15. John Matthews Leader 16. Stanley McGowan Unsung Hero 17. Bob Munson & Charlie Decker Conservationists 18. Dave Murphy Conservationist 19. Howard Robinson Unsung Hero 20. Adam Rodriguez Innovator 21. Sen. Jon Tester Conservationist 22. Marco Vignaroli Innovator 23. Ken Whiting Innovator 24. Brad Yeomans & David Dillon Innovators 25. Waynlee Zollman Unsung Hero THANK YOU ALL FOR EVERYTHING YOU DO, AND CONGRATULATIONS ON BEING AMONG THIS YEAR’S OL 25! Last year we added a new wrinkle to this program, one that got our readers involved and gave them more of a voice in the OL 25 awards. First, we invited readers to submit nominations of people they knew and admired, a number of whom became honorees. And second, when the final 25 honorees were announced in the magazine, we asked readers to vote online for the overall “Readers Choice” award. This award goes to the individual whom our readers feel deserves to be recognized above all of the other honorees. Well, the votes are in, and we have a winner. BUT, before I announce who it is, I’d like to add another twist to this thickening plot. This year we’ve decided to bestow a runner-up Readers’ Choice Award in each of the remaining three categories, to the person who received the most votes in that category. So allow me to tell you about this year’s three runners-up before we get to the overall Readers’ Choice winner.
Coni and Randy Brooks (Leaders) Our first award goes to the Reader’s Choice in the Leaders category. This year’s award goes to a couple who have been leaders in our industry for more than 35 years. Equally important, they’ve been leaders both through their conservation involvement and their constant efforts to support the hunting and shooting sports.
Ladies and gentlemen it’s my pleasure to present the Outdoor Life 25 Reader’s Choice Award in the Leaders category to the ammo industry’s first couple–from Barnes Bullets–Coni and Randy Brooks.
Howard Robinson (Unsung Hero) The wonderful thing about the OL 25 is that it comprises people’s efforts at all levels. Some of our recipients are well known, others do great things quietly at the grassroots levels. Yet their contributions are no less important. The winner of this year’s Reader’s Choice award in the Unsung Heroes category is a passionate shooter, but he’s also devoted more than 27 years to teaching Hunter Education in his home state of Arkansas–passing his passion for the shooting sports on to the next generation.
Today I am honored to present the Outdoor Life 25 Reader’s Choice award in the Unsung Heroes category to Hunter Ed instructor extraordinaire, Mr. Howard Robinson.
Lowell Baier (Conservationist) Conservation is something that all of us care deeply about. But our next recipient truly personifies what a conservationist is all about. Among his many efforts, he led the campaign to preserve Teddy Roosevelt’s famous Elkhorn Ranch in North Dakota. He is a charter founder of the Wild Sheep Foundation and is the 28th President of the Boone and Crockett Club. It is largely as a result of his efforts that the Boone & Crockett has turned its efforts toward concentrating on conservation.
I am pleased to present the Outdoor Life 25 Reader’s Choice award in the Conservation category to Mr. Lowell Baier. This brings us to our Reader’s Choice award.
The person our readers have selected as the 2009 Outdoor Life 25 Reader’s Choice is a veteran in the field of innovation. Tackle innovation, to be precise. Originally from the south side of Chicago, he grew up bass fishing on the lakes of Michigan. After a brief stint in the corporate world, he worked on improving bowling ball cores and golf shafts before turning his hand to fishing rods in the early 2000s. Working largely out of his garage, he garnered award after award for his innovative uses of new materials and designs. Among the models he is best known for are the Tradition Series, the Spectra Series and the Pulsar Series. His designs have improved the comfort and fishability of rods in the field. Simply put, more people are catching more fish because of his designs. On top of all that, he’s a super nice guy, whom his peers describe as a “humble outdoors enthusiast.” He lives right here in Las Vegas, so he didn’t have to go very far to join us today. _
Ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure and honor to present the Outdoor Life 25 Readers’ Choice Award to Ken Whiting. Again, I’d like to congratulate Ken, Coni and Randy, Lowell, Howard and all of our OL 25 honorees for the wonderful things you’re doing. Our thanks once again to our whole crew and to the good folks at Leatherman for sponsoring the OL 25. We’ll look forward to seeing all of you back here next year to help us honor 2010’s Outdoor Life 25. Outdoor Life publisher Eric Zinczenko congratulates Ken Whiting on his OL 25 award. Check out all the 2010 OL 25 nominee profiles HERE
Outdoor Life Editor Todd Smith congratulates OL 25 recipient Ken Whiting.

SPECIAL REPORT: Outdoor Life Editor Todd Smith announces the winner of the coveted OL 25 award for 2010