A group of Black Hills State University tourism students received a glimpse into what it takes to organize a large-scale event after volunteering for the South Dakota Tourism Conference last month.
Seven BHSU students along with two faculty members attended last month’s state tourism conference. Pictured from left to right, back row, Jeffrey Wehrung, director of the BHSU Center for Business, Entrepreneurship and Tourism; Kari Rogers, biology major from Agar; Gov. Dennis Daugaard; Jack Nelson, human services major from Yankton; Tawny Reese, tourism and hospitality management major from Belle Fourche; and Chihiro Oseki, business administration – tourism from Nagaoka, Japan. Front row, Maria Mraz, business administration - management major from Dupree; Morgan Chavez, business administration – tourism major from Gillette; Dr. Igantius Cahyanto, assistant professor of tourism and hospitality and Jalyssa Mundell, business administration – tourism major from Moose Lake, Minn.
The annual conference brings together some of the state’s most influential leaders in the visitor industry to celebrate successes and discuss ways to increase visitation to the state. The theme of last month’s conference, “Think Big. Think Bold. Think Beyond.,” was meant to encourage everyone to dream bigger for the upcoming year and shine a larger spotlight on South Dakota’s visitor offerings, according to Jim Hagen, secretary of the Department of Tourism.
This year was the first time the state Department of Tourism utilized BHSU students to help with the conference, according to Dr. Ignatius Cahyanto, BHSU assistant professor of tourism and hospitality. “I pitched the idea of having students assist with the event and I was glad that the Dept. of Tourism was very appreciative. This opportunity allowed students to apply what they learn from my Convention, Meetings, and Event Planning course in a real scenario.”
Seven students along with Cahyanto and Jeffrey Wehrung, the director of the BHSU Center for Business, Entrepreneurship and Tourism, attended the conference. Four of the students helped in the organization of the two-day event.
“It was very educational working at such a large event and getting to understand how things work behind the scenes,” said Jalyssa Mundell, business administration – tourism and hospitality major from Moose Lake, Minn. “It was a tremendously valuable experience because we got to work hands-on with the Department of Tourism.”
Cahyanto said he received a personal Thank You from Hagen saying he looks forward to growing this partnership. “Next year we hope to have more students involved in the conference. This is a great opportunity for our students to see and interact with the industry,” Cahyanto said.
The tourism conference allows students to engage with professionals while getting hands-on experience in the field and receive contacts for possible future employment or internships, Cahyanto said noting that all seven of the students received multiple job and internship offers from various businesses.