Editor's note: This is the second in a two-part series about Pennsylvania outdoor writer Connie Mertz.
(I first met Outdoor Writer Connie Mertz at a writer's meeting in Williamsport in 1988. Since then, she and her husband have become good friends of mine. Connie is a likeable individual who is truly humble about the writing she does and gives God the credit for her talents.)
As Connie Mertz began working with the youth in her area in association with 4-H Clubs, she began learning more and more about wildlife and plant life. This vast amount of knowledge has helped her specialize her outdoor writing in those two areas.
While she does write about hunting experiences, Connie's main thrust is to teach her readers about certain aspects of the game they hunt. She also deals with non-game species and tells people to pay attention to the trees and plants while they are in the woods and fields.
Another area she also specializes in is considered to be a difficult one for most writers. Connie pens a "Fun Games" column every month in Pennsylvania Game News.
"These seem to come naturally to me," Connie said. "I can do three in a day." Sometimes the person playing the game has a list of characteristics on one side and various animals or plants names on the other side. The person playing then has to place a letter or number in a corresponding column. Often, the letters spell out a name of yet another animal or plant. Each game is unique.
Connie tells me out of all her writing, she gets the most positive comments from these games. "I really like doing them, too," she said.
Ken and Connie's interest in plant and wildlife led them into a radio show coming out of Danville. The subjects they discussed depended on the time of year. As certain hunting or fishing seasons approached, naturally, this was the theme.
I had the chance to be on their broadcast several times. When I still lived in the Special Regulations Area in Chester County, they had me talking about the differences of shotgun deer hunting versus rifle hunting. We also discussed other topics near to my heart.
Connie credits her membership in the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association (POWA) for helping her meet other writers and learning from them. The numerous seminars and activities often give her unlimited ideas for articles. "I've lived for POWA meetings and have been able to get some good educational material while I'm there," she stressed.
As all writers discover, writing opportunities often come and go. Connie's longest stint in writing was the column she wrote in the Danville New for 16 years. Others haven't lasted as long. Some publications have gone out of business or, for one reason or another, the editor isn't interested any longer.
Connie has branched out to writing travel pieces for a publication called Keystone Outdoors. "This has been a new challenge for me," she noted. These columns don't come, as quickly for her since a lot of research is needed to help her write about areas she hasn't been familiar with.
Connie Mertz has no plans for ever retiring from the work she loves best. "I hope to write until the day I die," she concluded.