INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Tourism professionals and volunteers from around the state were honored at the 22nd annual Rural Roundup conference hosted by the Nevada Commission on Tourism (NCOT), Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki announced today.

“NCOT is very grateful to our dedicated tourism professionals for their volunteer work helping to support and enhance Nevada’s No. 1 industry,” Krolicki, NCOT chairman, said. “Tourism is vital to the economy in rural Nevada, and NCOT relies on our volunteer network to keep visitor dollars flowing into local events, parks, museums and a wealth of other attractions.”

One winner was selected from each of Nevada’s six tourism “territories” – geographical areas of similar culture and geography – and two other awards recognized achievements on a statewide basis. A new award was added this year to recognize a tourism partner that has helped promote Nevada internationally. Finally, the June Stannard Scholarship was awarded to a Nevada high school senior who will be pursuing a degree in tourism or hospitality.

“Nevada’s tourism industry thrives because of the volunteers throughout the state who are passionate about sharing their state with visitors,” Nevada Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs Director Claudia Vecchio said. “Their expertise and commitment are invaluable to the promotion of our state, and we each benefit greatly from their dedication.”

VolunTourism Award recipients are:

Cowboy Country Territory

Kitty Nash serves as secretary for Cowboy Country. She was instrumental in creating the successful “Dream Vacation to Cowboy Country” contest and she currently is developing the territory’s quarterly e-newsletter. Nash represents the territory at the International Sportsmen’s Expo in Sacramento and other trade shows.

Reno-Tahoe Territory

Sue Knight is the proprietor of the Wild Rose Inn Bed and Breakfast in Genoa. Sue has been a longtime member of the Reno-Tahoe Territory, currently serving as secretary, and is actively involved in hosting familiarization tours to the territory. She always is eager to help out and volunteer her time whenever she can, whether for the territory or her community. She is an active volunteer in Genoa, where she helps with various town functions including the Genoa Candy Dance and the Genoa Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival.

Pony Express Territory

Wayne Cameron is the executive director of the White Pine Chamber of Commerce and has been involved in community activities in Ely for more than four decades. He has served as a White Pine County commissioner, chairman of the McGill Ruth Sewer & Water General Improvement District, chairman of the White Pine County Fair & Recreation Board and president of the White Pine Chamber of Commerce. He now is an active member of the Pony Express Territory, where he has taken on several projects and grants that have strengthened the territory and shown, once again, how committed he is to serving his community.

Indian Territory

Ben Aleck is Northern Paiute and has been the collections manager for the Pyramid Lake Visitors Center and Museum in Nixon since 2000. He has welcomed visitors from around the world to Pyramid Lake and introduced them to the Northern Paiute culture. He is very active in helping preserve and enhance the culture of the tribe and is actively involved in many civic organizations in the community.  He is also an accomplished professional artist and works to promote Native American artists throughout the state. 

Nevada Silver Trails Territory

Arlette Ledbetter is the director of tourism for the town of Pahrump and has applied her creativity and strategic planning to promoting the Nevada Silver Trails. She is actively engaged in representing Pahrump and the territory at trade shows and during familiarization tours to the area.

Las Vegas Territory

Charlene Ham is the special events coordinator for the Henderson Convention Center and Visitors Bureau. She has served on the board of the Las Vegas Territory for more than a decade, committing her volunteerism to raising funds for the territory’s scholarship program. The territory awards a scholarship to a high school student who plans to pursue a college degree in hospitality, and with Ham’s guidance, the scholarship program has grown and the territory now awards three scholarships each year.

Statewide Excellence in Grants Award

The Wells Chamber of Commerce uniquely leveraged two marketing grants and one infrastructure grant to benefit the town that was greatly damaged in a 6.0 earthquake in 2008. The level of detail and research that went into the chamber’s grant applications surpassed any other, and the grants will be used to purchase print and online advertising and to print a brochure on the Angel Lake Scenic Byway. The infrastructure grant will be used to improve the Wells Rodeo Area.

Statewide Excellence in Tourism

Marvin Minnick is a 32-year resident of Nevada and has been involved with tourism since joining the Pahrump Tourism Board in 2006. He was instrumental in merging two volunteer tourism entities, the Pioneer Territory and Nevada Silver Trails, into one, creating a stronger and more streamlined group. Minnick was appointed by the Nye County Commissioners to serve on the Regional Planning Commission, served as vice-chairman of the Pahrump Public Advisory board, and has served as chairman of the Pioneer Territory Board. He applies his creative expertise as senior print production manager for R&R Partners to his rural volunteerism.

Nevada International Award

American Airlines, Germany, was honored for its ongoing promotion of Nevada’s rural destinations and events. The airline has partnered with NCOT to bring journalists and tour operators to the Silver State on familiarization tours. The sponsored flights have greatly reduced the cost of these tours to NCOT and its rural partners. The relationship has been mutually beneficial, as American Airlines has been able to promote its convenient routes between Germany and Nevada to its customers. The airline also sent one of its top sales managers in Germany to Elko for a cowboy poetry preview tour so that the manager could better understand the value of Nevada to German travelers.

June Stannard Scholarship Winner

Brooke Aiazzi of Yerington is this year’s winner of the annual $1,000 June Stannard Memorial Scholarship to pursue a college degree that will lead to a career in the tourism industry. She is a senior at Yerington High School and has been active in sports and extracurricular activities throughout her high school experience. She also has volunteered with the Boys & Girls Club, Musicians for a Cause, Walk for Hope, and with organizations that send care packages to U.S. troops serving overseas.

Brooke wrote in her scholarship application that: “I want to assist people in seeing and experiencing the world around them.”

The scholarship was created in 2008 to honor the memory of June Stannard, a longtime operations manager for the Winnemucca Convention Center and avid supporter of Nevada’s tourism industry.

Editors: Photos of the awards winners are available at: