|By Lance Stockhaus, The Hays Daily News,
Kan.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Dec. 2, 2009 - --Fort Hays State University this year began a program supporting the $5.6 billion tourism industry in the state of Kansas. Now, a tourism association that spans from Goodland to Kansas City is showing its appreciation with the creation of a new scholarship.
"We launched the tourism and hospitality program this year in response to a need for more travel and tourism employees who have the specialized education that is needed to grow the industry in Kansas," FHSU President Edward H. Hammond said during a press conference this morning. "We greatly appreciate the support of the Kansas I-70 Association with the announcement that its members have created a scholarship for students in our hospitality management program."
The Kansas I-70 Association is a group of 14 communities that collaborate to promote tourism across the state, which they describe as "America's Main Street."
Bridgette Jobe, director of the Kansas City, Kan., Convention and Visitors Bureau and this year's president of the Kansas I-70 Association, said the group was donating a scholarship of $1,000 a year, giving FHSU the option to award the money to just one student or divide it among two students.
"We created the scholarship to encourage professional growth within the Kansas travel and tourism industry," Jobe said.
To be eligible for the scholarship, a student must be enrolled in the FHSU hospitality management program and must be willing to perform internship projects within the state of Kansas. Students who come from one of the 14 communities will have higher consideration for the scholarship.
"On behalf of the university, I thank the Kansas I-70 Association for their support and investment in FHSU's students, both domestic and international," said Stacey Smith, director of the program at FHSU.
Smith said few colleges and universities house their hospitality management programs in a college of business.
"The seven new courses that constitute the program are supported by the college's strong business core," Smith said.
The program was intended to bring in local as well as international students to the FHSU campus.
"Combined with the support of state organizations such as the Kansas I-70 Association, the program will strengthen state tourism and management opportunities and carry the FHSU brand to many other parts of the world," Smith said.
Kansas State University and other community and technical colleges now are working together to add a professional development program to existing tourism and hospitality management.
"This is an exciting and important step in Kansas higher education and the future of Fort Hays State University," Smith said. " I can say without reservation that I am delighted and honored to be a part of this opportunity."
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