MSUE’s help leads to community leadership and award

Michigan’s Great Outdoors, a five-county tourism promotion group that includes Lake, Manistee, Mason, Newaygo and Oceana counties, received the 2011 Governor’s Award for Innovative Tourism Collaboration in the category of education/training at the Governor’s Conference on Tourism March 21 in Kalamazoo. The group was an outgrowth of the Newaygo County Michigan State University Extension Community Assessment Team (CAT) and then a regional Tourism Assistance Project (TAP) with Don Holecek, formerly with MSU’s Travel, Tourism and Recreation Resource Center. The former county Extension directors instrumental in the success of Michigan Great Outdoors were Norm Myers, Oceana County; Elaine Bush, Manistee County; Connie Theunick (retired), Lake County; Jim Breinling (retired) and Mira Danilovich, Mason County; and Kathryn Cummings, Newaygo County.

 According to Kathryn, now District 5 coordinator, “Although no more Extension educators are active with the group since restructuring began last year, that’s a kind of testament to the group’s stability!”

 Sarah Nicholls, associate professor from the Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies (CARRS), spoke immediately after the awards luncheon on behalf of MSU’s Travel, Tourism and Recreation Resource Center. Dan McCole, assistant professor and MSUE Tourism Specialist from CARRS, provided MSU’s annual forecast for the coming tourism season.

 Thanks to Don Holecek for the help and leadership in getting this started. Anytime we can help get something started and gradually move the community into the lead role and no longer require our direct management, that’s a success. And if it comes out an award winner, it’s a success with highly valued impacts!

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