This story is to commemorate my 30th year of writing this column. Someone recently told me that I am The Examiner’s longest running freelance writer.
I would celebrate with a cupcake, but my doctor abolished that sort of food from my diet. In fact, I had hair on my head and no belly when Dan Potter, then editor of The Examiner gave me this job on Jan. 1, 1987. During the column’s life I have gone from young man to – let’s just say, older gentleman.
Many years ago I asked the fabulous Audrey Stubbart, who worked as a proofreader and newspaper columnist for The Examiner until the age of 105 in 2000, a question about writing my columns. Should I eventually ask for more money?
“You are fortunate to write a column that people will actually want to read,” Stubbart said. “Now write and make your column special. Don’t worry about the rest, just write.”
The late Dick Puhr, former Examiner sports editor, gave me good advice too:
“Treat your audience like they are old friends,” Puhr said. “You may never meet them, but they will know you, so write accordingly and never lose your ability for telling a great story!”
Excellent advice from both that I thankfully wrote down and occasionally read!
I have been one of the nation’s most fortunate columnists, writing outdoor stories every week over the past 30 years – almost 1,600 columns that appeared in several newspapers. This has been a challenge that made me more knowledgeable as an outdoorsman. I had to do it right. You are a knowledgeable outdoor audience.
My column in this newspaper has won almost 40 national writing awards for newspaper journalism in head to head competition with hundreds of professional outdoors writers. I could never have done that when I first started writing this column in 1987 without help from people like Audrey and Dick. I have won awards for writing magazine articles and books, too.
Audrey was right!
Here are a few of my honors:
• Induction into the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame in the Legendary Communicator 2010 class because of fishing stories and work with mentally and physically challenged kids in fishing and healthy kids, too.
• Induction into the Missouri Waterfowlers Hall of Fame as a writer on Nov. 9, 2013.
• 2014 Conservation Communicator of the year at the Conservation Federation of Missouri annual conference on March 20, 2015.
• 2015 Conservation Communicator of the Year in Kansas on Feb. 27, 2016. I am the third man in history to win this prestigious award in both Missouri and Kansas.
• The Missouri House of Representatives recognized my flood book with a resolution in 2014.
• My writing career was honored on March 31, 2015, by the Missouri House of Representatives. Rep. Kevin Corlew did the introduction. Sen. Rob Schaaf introduced me to the Missouri Senate that morning.
• The St. Joseph Library opened an exhibit to run three years about the 1993 Missouri River flood on April 15, 2016, based on my book, “Missouri’s Great Flood of ’93–Revisiting an Epic Natural Disaster.” I was the keynote speaker at this exhibit’s opening ceremony.
• The Kansas City Royals honored my work in kids fishing, mentally and physically challenged and healthy on Aug. 2, 2011, by allowing me to sit in the Buck O’Neil Legacy Seat.
Today a lot of my writing appears in books. “Ride the Trail of Death” and “Black Moon’s Revenge,” both made best seller lists at Barnes and Nobles and Borders.
My next book, “Missouri’s Great Flood of ’93–Revisiting an Epic Natural Disaster,” was released by Northeast News in June 2013 with more than 80 of my photos from the flood. “Missouri’s Great Flood” took first place in books from the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers in their 2014 Excellent in Crafts awards.
“A Return to North American Waterfowl Hunting” was released December 2015 and “Take That Kid Fishing,” was released spring 2016.
I recently was hired to write a chapter for Arkansas in their book, “Arkansas’s Grand Prairie.” My chapter will detail duck call manufacturers and hunters from this region. I wrote a couple of paragraphs and have two pictures in The National Wild Turkey Federation’s “Biology of Wild Turkeys,” published many years ago.
All of my books are in the Park Hill High School Library, where I graduated in 1971, and in libraries around the United States.
I have been fortunate to do youth fishing and hunting programs because of my outdoor writing background. For example I do Powerpoint presentations throughout the year to promote youth in outdoor activities. Here’s more:
• Fishing programs for mentally and physically challenged children. This started in the early 1990s in a program sponsored by Easter Seals and the Kansas City Chiefs. Plus more programs for single parents and healthy kids across the country.
• A Kids Writing Program that was accepted by the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame on Jan. 3, 2013, and the Missouri Outdoor Communicators accepted my Writing about Kids in the Outdoors program in 2015.
• I designed a writing program for sophomores at Park Hill High School per Brad Kinchaloe, the principal at West Platte High School in Weston, and at St. James Academy in Olathe, Kansas. Several students from Park Hill won writing awards, some in national competition.
• I am currently the Missouri chairman of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes kids fishing clinic. Our first event was held on June 18, 2016, at Smithville Lake. This event drew more than 50 kids. We plan to have a fishing program in Jackson County in 2017.
All of this started with a Jackson County newspaper article and lots of support from The Examiner staff. I am eternally grateful for their support and advice. I am equally grateful for my reader’s kind support.
Audrey and Dick are gone now, but they will live forever in my heart. I have been fortunate to work with Karl Zinke, the current sports editor. He is a fine writer and very good editor. I, too, am grateful for Examiner Executive Editor Shelia Davis’ help, support and friendship all these years.
I would like to write this column 30 more years, but that will likely not happen. I would be 93 years old. But hopefully I will be able to share outdoor lore with many of you for several more years.
God bless you dear readers and thanks for allowing me to share 30 years of the good, clean outdoors!
Kenneth Kieser, a veteran outdoors writer and member of the Waterfowlers Hall of Fame and National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame, writes a weekly outdoors column for The Examiner. Reach him at email@example.com