FALLON, Nev. — Team-spirited Nevadans from across the state who volunteered their time and talent to promote tourism in rural communities were honored Thursday at the Nevada Commission on Tourism’s (NCOT) 19th Annual Rural Roundup conference.

Each of Nevada’s six tourism “territory” chairs presented a VolunTourism Award to a winner in their territory at the Fallon Convention Center. The awards dinner concluded the three-day conference, which annually provides Nevada’s rural tourism network with new information and ideas for attracting more visitors.

Nine other individuals received awards for excellence and special efforts promoting tourism throughout rural Nevada. In addition to the awards, a Boulder City High School senior was given a special memorial scholarship, and a retiring NCOT employee was honored for her work assisting the last 14 Rural Roundups.

“Rural Roundup generates new energy, ideas and strategies that help communities draw visitors,” Lt. Gov. Brian K. Krolicki, NCOT chair, said. “It’s a very productive event that provides Nevada’s dedicated, enthusiastic rural tourism industry with information they can put right to work creating more revenue for the local economy.”

National Honor Society scholar Blake Barletta, 18, of Boulder City received the first $1,000 June Stannard Rural Tourism Memorial Scholarship to pursue a degree in hospitality, travel or a tourism-related field at an accredited college or university. The Boulder City High School senior, named outstanding “Student of the Quarter” in math and government, plans to attend the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, in August and major in hotel management.

“This career interests me because of all the people you get to meet and the fact that you get to make people happy on a daily basis,” Barletta said. “My biggest goal would be to eventually open up my own hotel and run it.”

Stannard had retired as operations manager for the Winnemucca Convention Center when she died last year. The scholarship memorializes her dedication and zeal for travel and tourism, which epitomize the rural Nevada spirit.

Sheree Tibbals of Winnemucca, who presented the scholarship, said Stannard would be pleased that her years of tourism promotion had made a difference worthy of being memorialized by helping a young person get started on the tourism industry path.

“We are very proud to present this scholarship to Blake, and we wish her great success in her future career,” Tibbals said. Tibbals served as administrator for the scholarship funds, which were contributed by the territories and other tourism partners.

Jackie Zaro, NCOT accounting assistant who will retire in June, received special recognition for her diligent work on Rural Roundup delegate registration annually since 1995.

The 2009 awards winners:

Cowboy Country Territory – Territory Chair Tom Lester presented a VolunTourism Award to Sheree Tibbals of Winnemucca, Humboldt County Fairgrounds supervisor and territory treasurer, for her continual willingness to assist on a numerous territory projects, such as writing grant requests, marketing Web sites, participating in consumer shows and keeping the territory’s books. Tibbals took the lead in establishing the June Stannard Rural Tourism Memorial Scholarship in memory of the woman who devoted 21 years to the Winnemucca Convention Center and helped host the first Rural Roundup there in 1990.

Indian Territory – Territory Chair Sherry Rupert presented a VolunTourism Award to Della John of Nixon, tribal administrator for the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, for her efforts promoting tourism within Nevada’s Indian country. John researched and assisted in coordinating the first Tribal Tourism Conference for Nevada’s 20 federally recognized tribes, tribal members and American Indian artisans and crafters. Her extensive knowledge of tribal governments and their perspective on tourism and tourism-related issues makes her invaluable to Indian Territory.

Las Vegas Territory – Territory Chair Teri Laursen presented a VolunTourism Award to Ginny Gottfredson of Boulder City, sales manager for Lake Mead Cruises and longtime territory treasurer, for her devotion to territory initiatives and cheerfully volunteering her time and talent to support tourism-building activities. Gottfredson promotes sightseeing cruises, which attract visitors to Lake Mead.

Nevada Silver Trails Territory – Territory Chair Marvin Minnick presented a VolunTourism Award to George Lemaitre of Yerington, who operates radio station KSVL in Yerington and is a territory board member, for his tireless work gathering information for the new Nevada Silver Trails Territory brochures and print ads.  Working on a short deadline, Lemaitre located and photographed chef Mad Mike for the territory’s “Celebrity Chef” entry in a print advertising series that uses spoof humor to promote rural Nevada’s tranquil, folksy lifestyle.

Pony Express Territory – Territory Chair Rick Gray presented a VolunTourism Award to Dee Helming of Austin, director of the Austin Chamber of Commerce, territory secretary and proprietor of the Union Street Lodging Bed and Breakfast, for volunteering her time and talents to the territory and providing valuable historical and real-time perspective as a 27-year Austin resident and businesswoman.

Reno-Tahoe Territory – Territory Chair Sue Barton presented a VolunTourism Award to Sherry Rupert of Carson City, executive director of the Nevada Indian Commission and chair of Indian Territory, for working tirelessly and with great dedication to help create the Stewart Indian School Trail in Carson City. This self-guided tour preserves the history of the former boarding school that provided vocational skills to American Indian youth from more than 200 tribes in Nevada, California, Arizona and New Mexico from 1890 to 1980. The walking tour offers recorded interviews at 20 campus sites with school alumni and former employees who relate their memories. Rupert also was instrumental in bringing the Governors' Interstate Indian Council Conference to Lake Tahoe in 2007.

Larry Friedman, NCOT’s deputy director for Sales and Industry Partners, presented a Special Recognition Award to the seven-member Las Vegas Territory committee that produced 21 tours for attendees at the International Pow Wow convention in Las Vegas last June. The tours exposed 670 tourism industry professionals from around the world to attractions throughout Nevada. Volunteers put in more than 10,000 hours arranging and conducting the tours, which had a retail value of $133,750. Receiving the awards were Las Vegas Territory Chair Teri Laursen, Leah Koza, Gloria Kritzler, Alex Goranson, Allison Raskanski, Joni Moss and Sunny Barkley.

Kari Frilot, NCOT’s Rural Grants manager, presented the Statewide Excellence in Grants Award to Cherie Westbrook of Laughlin, sales representative for the Laughlin Visitors Bureau, for the first Wings and Wildlife Festival of Southern Nevada held March 13-16. Westbrook accepted the award on behalf of the 120-member Southern Nevada Birding & Wildlife Trails Partnership, which created the event. The festival attracted visitors from as far away as Canada, New York, Wisconsin, Montana and Texas. The partnership was formed after the Laughlin Tourism Committee wrote a grant to research and assess the viability of bird and nature tourism marketing in southern Nevada.

Christian Passink, NCOT’s Rural Programs manager, presented the Statewide Excellence in Tourism Award to Candace Duncan, executive director of the Carson City Convention and Visitors Bureau. As past chair of Reno/Tahoe Territory, Duncan has been very involved in promoting tourism throughout the state. Recent examples include her Divine 9 golf campaign, which highlights golf courses in Carson City, Carson Valley and Dayton, and The Southern Nevada Mesquite intra-state cooperative ad campaign, “Great Golf in Nevada.” In this campaign, Mesquite markets northern Nevada in summer and Carson City promotes southern Nevada in winter. Duncan is past chair of the Regional Marketing Committee and writes numerous multijurisdictional marketing grants. She also is an outspoken advocate and co-organized the Save Nevada Tourism coalition.

The three-day conference included a full day of educational programs that offered information on the latest tourism marketing trends and technologies to assist participants in better promoting tourism in their communities. Delegates also toured the Churchill County Museum, Oats Park Art Center and the Fallon Naval Air Station.

The 20th Rural Roundup in April 2010 will be in Winnemucca, site of the first conference.