Sandusky, OH Ohio Sea Grant Extension’s Tourism Program Director Melinda Huntley received the Early Career Individual Achievement Award on June 21 at the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network’s annual meeting in Sheboygan, WI. The award recognizes Melinda’s many contributions toward the program’s role in Ohio’s tourism efforts since she joined Sea Grant in 2006. She competed with Sea Grant extension agents from all seven other Great Lakes programs and was selected through a peer-reviewed application process.
Nominees must demonstrate noteworthy enthusiasm, excellent performance, and outstanding achievement. The Early Career and Mid-Career Individual Achievement Awards are the only Great Lakes Sea Grant-sponsored awards that recognize individual accomplishments.
"It was a real honor to be chosen for this award," Melinda says. "Sea Grant has an amazing caliber of agents who are innovative, connected to their communities, and who deeply care about what they are doing. It’s a thrill to be recognized among these individuals."
By bringing people and organizations together to work for common causes, Melinda has created several successful partnerships. In her work on 18 projects, she has partnered 30 offices and organizations ranging from state and federal agencies to professional associations, tourism offices, television stations, and environmental groups.
Melinda has secured more than $400,000 in grants and project contracts and has leveraged an additional $790,000 from project partnerships. Working with more than 30 individuals and programs, Melinda wrote the 60-page Lake Erie Island Guidebook to showcase Lake Erie’s unique tourism destinations. She has not only fostered collaboration, but has empowered individuals by creating the Ohio Tourism Leadership Academy in 2008. The academy shapes tourism professionals into industry leaders. In its first three years, the academy has graduated 30 students who have a greater recognition of their roles in creating more sustainable communities and nearly 80 percent of alumni have pursued statewide or regional board and leadership positions. Several states have contacted Melinda for her assistance in duplicating the program.
Melinda led the development of Ohio Sea Grant’s new four-year Strategic and Implementation Plan in 2010, the same year she led a 14-county National Heritage feasibility study for the National Park Service. The Lake Erie Literacy Principles Melinda helped develop with three other Ohio agencies served as the foundation for the Great Lakes Literacy Principles, created by Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence Great Lakes.
After graduating from Ohio State University, Melinda, of Sandusky, served as public relations coordinator at Cedar Point and the Sandusky/Erie County Visitors and Convention Bureau. She became Executive Director of the Visitors Bureau before coming to Ohio Sea Grant in 2006.
"In her short tenure with Ohio Sea Grant, Melinda has transformed our program from a participant in tourism development activities to an acknowledged leader," says Frank Lichtkoppler, Ohio Sea Grant Extension Program Coordinator. "We look forward to her future Sea Grant work in anticipation of the valuable and worthy programs that haven’t been conceived but surely will be."
For a photo of Melinda, please visit her profile page at ohioseagrant.osu.edu/outreach/extension/mhuntley .
Ohio State University’s Ohio Sea Grant program is part of NOAA Sea Grant, a network of 32 Sea Grant programs dedicated to the protection and sustainable use of marine and Great Lakes resources. For information on Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Laboratory, visit _ohioseagrant.osu.edu .
Melinda Huntley, Tourism Program Director, Ohio Sea Grant, 419.6.9.0399, firstname.lastname@example.org_ .
Frank Lichtkoppler, Extension Program Coordinator, Ohio Sea Grant, 440.350.2582, email@example.com .