Sandusky, OH Ohio Sea Grant Extension’s Sustainable Tourism Program Director, Melinda Huntley, was selected by her peers to receive the 2011 Paul Sherlock Award, the highest honor in the Ohio tourism industry at the Ohio Travel Association’s annual Conference on Tourism on October 26. Since 1975, the Sherlock lifetime achievement award has recognized 28 outstanding individuals who exemplify the best in the tourism industry by demonstrating outstanding service to the development and promotion of Ohio tourism.
"The honor of joining the distinguished list of previous award winners is beyond words," Huntley says. "Those are the pioneers and leaders of this industry I looked up to when I began my career in tourism. It’s my hope and dream that perhaps a future leader was in the audience and will feel inspired to become more involved."
Huntley has worked in the Ohio tourism business for more than 20 years, serving in various capacities with the Sandusky/Erie County Visitors and Convention Bureau, Cedar Point, and the Ottawa County Visitors Bureau. She was instrumental in designating the Lake Erie Coastal Ohio Trail as a national scenic byway, and she has led Ohio State Ohio Sea Grant’s Sustainable Tourism Program since 2006. In 2008, she co-founded the Ohio Tourism Leadership Academy, a training program for emerging industry leaders Huntley currently co-coordinates for the Ohio Travel Association. She is a past president of the Ohio Travel Association board and served as a member of the Ohio Tourism Advisory Council.
"Given Melinda’s passion, leadership, and ongoing mentorship for and within the tourism industry, it is no surprise that she’s been awarded this tremendous honor," says Amir Eylon, Ohio Tourism Director.
Rep. Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green) and Rep. Dennis Murray (D-Sandusky) presented Huntley with a proclamation from the House of Representatives of Ohio’s 129th General Assembly, announcing Huntley as "a remarkable individual" who has "combined civic concern and dedication with the utmost professionalism to become the dynamic leader in her field."
"You have helped to promote and develop tourism in all of your endeavors, and through your admirable devotion to service and achievement, you have distinguished yourself as a conscientious and hard-working Ohioan," the proclamation continues. "Willingly giving of your time, energy, and abilities far beyond what was required or expected, you have striven to better the world around you, and you have earned the respect and esteem of colleagues and community alike."
Recently, Huntley led the development of Ohio Sea Grant’s new four-year Strategic and Implementation Plan in 2010 while leading a 14-county National Heritage feasibility study for the National Park Service. She recently collaborated with Ohio Department of Natural Resources to create the Lake Erie Birding Trail, a connected series of 84 birding sites along Lake Erie to increase bird watching tourism in the area.
"The award is extremely well deserved. I know of no one in Ohio who has had a greater impact on tourism over her career as Melinda Huntley," says Jeff Reutter, Ohio Sea Grant Director.
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.
Extension Tourism Program Director, Ohio Sea Grant
Extension Program Coordinator, Ohio Sea Grant