BY JOSH LANTZ  |  The Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW) awarded its highest honor to two recipients at its recent annual conference in Minneapolis Northwest, Minnesota. Golden Glow Awards were presented in the Excellence-In-Craft and Individual categories during the September 30 Chevy Trucks Golden Glow Banquet at the Double Tree by Hilton Minneapolis North Hotel.

Brian E. Smith receives 2015 Golden Glow for Excellence-In-Craft
Raised in Elkhart, Brian E. Smith’s love of the outdoors was kindled on the banks of nearby Cobus Creek, the storied St. Joseph River and at the historic Elkhart Conservation Club, where he and brother Mark were self-proclaimed honorary junior members – incessantly pestering the members until they agreed to teach them to “tie that fly”, “build that arrow shaft” or, eventually, take them hunting and fishing.

Upon graduation from Ball State University’s College of Architecture and Planning in 1992, Brian began his outdoor communications career when he and Mark founded Raghorn Incorporated and their cornerstone publication, Raghorn News Outdoors, renamed Raghorn’s Indiana Outdoor News five years later. Fighting through adversity and naysayers with tenacity and creativity, Brian would grow ION into one of the largest outdoor news publications in the Midwest.

During the formative years of Raghorn News Outdoors and Raghorn’s Indiana Outdoor News, Brian grew his readership and brand identity by contributing to other publications. He wrote a weekly column for the Elkhart Truth, which soon led to the assumption of editorial duties for the publication’s new outdoor page. His written work was also picked up by Independent News Group, a publishing company encompassing several weekly newspapers in northern Indiana. Smith has been honored with two Inland Daily Press Association awards for his work in newsprint.

In 1994, Brian added a one-hour radio program called Raghorn News Radio to his repertoire, which was co-hosted and produced with Mark. Aired live on Sunday evenings, the program was the most popular show in northern Indiana’s Kankakee Valley.

Realizing the power of their new media outlets, Raghorn, Inc. began creating positive outdoor campaigns that would benefit local area schools and wildlife alike. The most popular was the “adopt a river otter” program, where money was raised for a specified class in a local school which, in turn, would donate to the State of Indiana’s river otter reintroduction program and take a field trip to witness the release of their sponsored otter into the wilds of Indiana.

Brian also obtained his certificate as a shotgun shooting instructor from the NRA, going on to teach young men and women through the local 4H shooting sports program for 15 years. Smith was instrumental in urging the national 4H-shooting program to eliminate the Hunter Education requirement for participants through the forceful but judicial use of his media outlets. His foresight enabled kids to participate who otherwise would not. His belief that you did not need to be a hunter to be a shooter paid huge dividends. The program enjoyed its highest ever graduation rate just one year after the change he had helped to affect.

Brian worked with WNIT-TV to launch his first television production in 1999. Like the magazine and the radio program, Raghorn News Outdoors Television was highly popular with viewers who were starved for outdoor news and information. Smith co-hosted the show with his magazine editor, Josh Lantz, live in the studio on Sunday evenings. The format was quickly outgrown, however, and an in-house production arm of Raghorn, Inc. (Adventure Media Productions) was born.

Smith and his production house went on to produce four national, award-winning television series’ – Raghorn Adventures, Wild Adventures, Angling the Great Lakes, and Ice Men – encompassing hundreds of individual episodes between 2002 and 2012. The productions would earn 24 national nominations resulting in 11 national awards for “Best in Craft”, “Best Writing”, “Most Informative”, “Best Combination Television Series”, “Best Hunting TV Series”, “Best Fishing TV Series”, “Best New TV Series”, and “Best of The Best TV Episode”. The “Best of the Best” award was earned by beating all other 1st place awards in the 2009 Sportsman Channel Awards. For over ten years, Adventure Media Productions filmed around the world, from Zimbabwe and Tanzania to Alaska and the Bahamas, also completing corporate production work for such noteworthy clients as Bass Pro Shops, Cabelas, the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, NWTF and more.

The Indiana Wildlife Federation honored Brian with the organization’s “Outdoor Communicator of the Year” award in recognition of his conservation communications work in 2002. He earned similar awards from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources in 2001 and 2002.

A fiercely loyal supporter of AGLOW, Brian joined the organization in 1996 and attended his first AGLOW Conference in 1998. Since that time, he has served multiple terms on AGLOW’s Board of Directors and has held every officer position available, including the organization’s presidency in 2005.

In recognition and appreciation of his pioneering body of excellent outdoor communications work across multiple media platforms, Brian E. Smith was nominated and presented with the 2015 Golden Glow Excellence-In-Craft Award by AGLOW Past President, Tim Lesmeister. In his acceptance speech, Smith recognized many individuals within AGLOW who have served as sources of inspiration and assisted in his success. He also announced that he has turned over editorial and publishing responsibilities for Indiana Outdoor News to his oldest daughter, Megan,

Berdette Zastrow receives 2015 Golden Glow Individual Award
From promotion of South Dakota’s beef industry to working for South Dakota water development, to working for South Dakota’s natural resource conservation, to broadcasting and writing about the outdoors and to promoting youth and women’s participation in the outdoors to preserve South Dakota’s heritage and traditions, Berdette Zastrow always had, and still has, South Dakota’s best interests at heart.

Zastrow was appointed by four governors and worked with five while serving the state on the Agriculture Marketing Commission, Board of Water and Natural Resources and the Game, Fish and Parks Commission. She has received prestigious awards from her peers, including the Governor’s Conservationist of the Year Award from the South Dakota Wildlife Federation for her work in conservation, her broadcasting and writing careers and for the promotion of youth and women in the outdoors. She also authored a book, Woman’s Guide to Hunting.

Zastrow is an avid angler and big game, upland bird and waterfowl hunter and has mentored many youth and women.
Zastrow and her husband, Bruce, operated a grain and livestock farm near Columbia, raised a son and a daughter, and retired to Pickerel Lake where she writes for the Aberdeen American News, Outdoor Forum and Farm Forum.

In recognition and appreciation of a lifetime of volunteer service and steadfast advocacy and support for conservation and our natural resources, Berdette Zastrow was nominated by AGLOW Past President, Bobby Whitehead, and presented with the 2015 Golden Glow Individual Award by AGLOW member, Kristen Durbin Monroe. In her introduction speech, Monroe cited Zastrow as a guiding light in her own journey down the path of professional outdoor communications.

AGLOW is one of the nation’s largest, oldest and most active professional outdoor communicators’ organizations. Each year, as merited, AGLOW’s Council of Past Presidents nominates and presents up to five deserving individuals or corporations with their highest honor, the Golden Glow Award. In receiving their awards, Zastrow and Smith join a list of past honorees including Aldo Leopold, Bruce Babbitt, John Dingell, Mike Huckabee, Ducks Unlimited and Boy Scouts of America. For more information, visit

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