For Stewards of the Wild Bryan-College Station Chapter Co-Chair Meagan McElya, life has been one big rodeo. With Texas as her source of endless inspiration, Meagan has established herself as an award-winning photographer, digital marketer, and visual storyteller of longstanding Texas traditions like the rodeo, hunting and fishing, farming/ranching, and the wild outdoors.
Born and raised in Angleton, Texas, nestled between Houston and the Texas Coast, Meagan says, “I grew up mainly fishing, but I do remember when my grandfather taught me how to shoot my first BB gun. Outdoor activities were always a big part of my upbringing and I always enjoyed being outside, whether fishing, horseback-riding, or as I grew older, hunting.”
“My family owned a wholesale nursery when I was younger, so you can say I’m also a bit of plant junkie. As long as I can remember, I have been enthralled by identifying plants and flowers during my travels, and I have an extra love for being outdoors watching the world wake up as the sun rises.” She also inherited her family’s entrepreneurial spirit, establishing her first business—Simply Photography by Meagan—when she was just in high school.
In 2011, she began attending Texas A&M University in College Station, TX (Whoop!), where she pursued her bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Communications and Journalism. It was during this time that she also met her future business partner and now-fiancé, Brandon McDow, a fifth generation Texan and avid outdoorsman himself. One fateful evening in 2013, their paths crossed at longtime Aggie establishment “the Chicken” (i.e. The Dixie Chicken), and the two have been together ever since, celebrating 10 years this month!
After Meagan finished her studies at A&M, and Brandon earned his degree from Sam Houston State University in Agricultural Engineering & Technology with a minor in Marketing, Brandon established Bar MC Drone Services while Meagan continued to build on her existing photography brand.
“We started by primarily covering local rodeo events and some real estate listings during the first few years working together. We decided to officially merge our two brands together in 2018 to start the new brand: Bar MC Media. Then COVID came along two years later and really changed a lot of things for us.”
“Rodeos and other events were being canceled left and right, and our outdoors lifestyle started to serve a larger purpose. We began vlogging our hunting and fishing adventures, mostly for fun, but to also grow our YouTube channel. This shift launched us further into the outdoor space more professionally, and we’ve had the pleasure of working with some amazing individuals, ranches, and outdoor brands since. It’s been quite a journey expanding from the rodeo industry to the greater outdoors, but it allowed us to really develop our videography and photography skills in a very niche space. The value we can offer in this space is that we are as knowledgeable behind the camera as we are in the field, whether it be rodeo, hunting or fishing. We pride ourselves on our experience and expertise in what we film and how we tell a story.”
In the three years since, Meagan and Brandon have grown the Bar MC Media YouTube channel to almost 2,000 subscribers, and in addition to videography and photography services, they now offer consulting services for social media marketing and website development. They also launched The Tejas Hunt Club Podcast in 2023, which now has 24 total episodes and over 3,200 streams. Meagan has served on several volunteer committees, including the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Ranching and Wildlife Committee before joining the Bryan-College Station Chapter of Stewards of the Wild in 2021, where she hit the ground running as Co-Chair of the chapter.
“I was able to use my experience to take the lead on chapter communications and get our social media platform up and running again in hopes of recruiting new members and hosting successful fundraising events.” Together with the Advisory Committee, Meagan was able to help support the growth of the BCS Chapter from an all-time low of 9 total members, to an all-time high of 40 members. “The biggest draw for me [to SOTW] was the opportunity to be a mentor and pass down my knowledge and experience to others, and to hopefully get more people to fall in love with what I care most about so that they can care about it and protect it as well for future generations,” said Meagan.
Her hope for this year and in the future is to be able to partake in SOTW’s mentored hunts program. “Ironically, the whole reason we joined was to be able to mentor new hunters, but since joining we have been booked up with work and our own hunts during the past two hunting seasons, so we hope to be able to mentor this year and on other trips in the coming seasons.”
With the start of a new fall hunting season and now a wedding to plan, life shows no signs of slowing down for Meagan. Catch a glimpse through the lens of her life and work at Bar MC Media.