Oxnard, Calif., – Members of the Outdoor Writers Association of California, have voted Whitney Uyeda as its 2022 Outdoor Californian of the Year.

The lead volunteer of United Way of Santa Barbara County’s “Fun in The Sun” program has long been dedicated to both habitat protection and educating youth about the importance of conservation efforts. The volunteer, without a big office or a fancy title, has managed to get 350 kids out fishing at Lake Cachuma or on the Goleta Pier each summer for the past 14 years.

OWAC member Tom Raftican nominated Uyeda lauding Uyeda’s volunteer efforts as extensive and exceptional. “Over the past half-century, he has literally provided thousands and thousands of hours in support of California’s outdoors and the outdoors community,” said Raftican. “His work with both habitat restoration and kids’ fishing programs goes back to the 1980s and carries on today. Whitney is the real deal!”

Through the years, Uyeda has been voted into leadership positions for his volunteer efforts across an array of organizations for which he has volunteered. He is also vice president of CCA’s Santa Barbara Chapter; he is (acting) president of the Santa Barbara Sport Fishing Club and is a past president of both the SB Bass Club and the Carpinteria Sport Fishing Club. He also volunteers with The Sportfishing Conservancy.

Established by OWAC’s board of directors in 1993, the Outdoor Californian of the Year has become the most prestigious honor awarded by the organization.”

OWAC members nominated four worthy candidates this year and voting was open to members for more than 30 days.

Past recipients have been teachers, biologists, wildlife advocates, politicians, land agency managers, and everyday citizens who have taken up a cause benefitting the environmental causes and education.

Whitney Uyeda with kids in the Fun in the Sun fishing program.
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OWAC Board of Directors

OWAC is a non-profit association of media professionals who communicate the vast array of outdoor recreational opportunities and related issues in California, the surrounding western region, and beyond. The membership includes newspaper and magazine staffers, freelance writers, book authors, radio broadcasters, video producers, editors, photographers, artists, lecturers and information officers. OWAC’s spring and fall conferences, held in some of California’s most beautiful outdoor settings, showcase the organization’s principal programs.


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