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Calendar of Events

2019 Agri/Eco Tourism Workshop

Hosted by Nebraska Tourism Commission

Registration  |  Lodging  |  Agenda  | Ranch ToursSpeakers
Taste & Feel of Nebraska  |  Sponsors

Audience: Anyone wanting to start or grow a successful agri/eco tourism business. Typical attendees include farmers, ranchers, outfitters, vineyard operators, u-pick operators, managers of eco-tourism attractions, chamber/tourism directors, and more.

Workshop Activities:

  • Get behind-the-scenes tours of successful agri/eco tourism businesses, including Calamus Outfitters, Rowse's 1+1 Ranch and Comstock Premier Lodge. Meet agri/eco tourism business owners and taste local food, wine and beer.

  • Attend engaging educational sessions focused on effective marketing, business sustainability, and more. Walk away with practical tips you can start implementing right away.

  • Learn what resources are available to all Nebraska agri/eco tourism businesses.

  • Network with other Nebraskans working in the agri/eco tourism industry. Make lasting, beneficial connections.

Registration Types

1.) Tuesday: Free or $15 with meal
Tourism Commissioners Meeting (meeting is free and open to the public, meal to follow is $15 in addition to workshop registration)

2.) Full Conference Registration: $100
   Ranch Tours, Taste & Feel Event, Workshop and Sponsor Exhibition (Includes materials, meals - with the exception of Tuesday's, breaks, and all activities)

3.) Wednesday Only: $55
Ranch Tours and Taste & Feel Event (Includes materials, meals, and breaks)

4.) Thursday Only: $75
Workshop and Sponsor Exhibition (Includes materials, meals, and breaks)

Workshop Registration

Registration form and payment must be received by Friday, February 22, 2019.

To register for the workshop:

  1. Fill out a registration form and mail it back  - or - 
  2. Fill out the online registration at this link: Online Registration

* Please note that online registrations require a 10% transaction fee in addtion to the amount of the registration.

If you have any questions about registration, contact Bryce Arens at 402-471-3796 or


Cobblestone Inn & Suites

127 Trotter Ave

Ord, NE  68862


  • Ask for the Ag/Eco Workshop Rate
  • Reservations must be booked by Feb. 26, 2019
  • $79.99 per room per night + tax
  • This rate includes overnight accommodation and breakfast buffet

Additional Lodging Options


Tuesday, February 26

3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.  Nebraska Tourism Commission Meeting* at Bootleg Brewers, 45145 829th Rd, Taylor, NE 68879
*Meeting is free and open to the public.

5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.  Social & Dinner* at Bootleg Brewers
*Dinner is $15 and must be paid in advance. Please add this additional payment to your registration fee if you plan to attend.

Wednesday, February 27

7:00 a.m. – 8:00 a.m.  Registration Open

7:45 a.m.  Buses depart Trotter Event Center for Ranch Tours

1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.  Lunch

4:40 p.m. – 5:20 p.m.  Buses return to Cobblestone Inn & Suites/Trotter Event Center

6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.  Taste & Feel of Nebraska featuring Michel Marlin’s Comedy & Trajectory

Thursday, February 28

7:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.  Registration Open / Sponsor Exhibition Booths Open

9:00 a.m.  Workshop Welcome

9:15 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.  Keynote Session: If You Don’t Build It, They Will Come, Michael Marlin

10:30 a.m. – 10:50 a.m.  Networking/Sponsor Exhibition Break

10:50 a.m. – 12:05 p.m.  Morning Breakout Sessions:

  • Upping Your Customer Service Game, Adam Lackner
  • Using Tourism to Diversify Your Business Mix, Doolarie (Dee) Singh-Knights
  • Website & Brand Development for Beginners, Steve & Ann Teget

12:05 p.m. – 12:30 p.m.  Lunch

12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.  Keynote Session: Cranes, Plains and a Watershed, Michael Forsberg & Sarah Sortum

1:45 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.  Afternoon Breakout Sessions:

  • Scaling-up & Negotiating Land Leases, Adam Lackner
  • Partnering with Game and Parks, TJ Walker
  • The Business of Photography, Brad Mellema

3:00 p.m. – 3:20 p.m.  Networking/Sponsor Exhibition Break

3:20 p.m. – 4:45 p.m.  Discussion Panel: Tammy Rowse, Roxanne & Mitch Huggins, & Sarah Sortum

5:30 p.m.  Pizza Palace Social Event at Scratchtown Brewing Company

7:00 p.m.  Performance at the Golden Husk – Map of My Kingdom: Who’s going to get the farm?

Ranch Tours

Calamus Outfitters
The Switzer Ranch, located in Loup County, is home to Bruce and Sue Ann Switzer, and their grown children, Adam Switzer and Sarah Sortum along with their respective families. Located primarily in upland Sandhills range, it operated as a traditional cow/calf ranch until around the year 2000. At that time, the Switzer family added additional revenue streams to enable the next generation to live and work on the ranch. Currently, the Switzer Ranch runs a diversified cattle operation consisting of custom grazing, custom backgrounding and short term cow programs. The Switzer Ranch is also home to Calamus Outfitters, a nature based tourism destination offering lodging, river trips (tanks, tubes, canoes and kayaks), birdwatching, hunting, jeep tours and specialty events.

Comstock Lodge
The impressive 8500 sq-ftComstock Premier Lodge LLC was built in 2000 and purchased by Mitch and Roxanne Huggins in 2009. The goal was to create an environment that could be enjoyed by every outdoor enthusiast. The lodge serves as a year-round Bed & Breakfast, featuring 10 rentable rooms and several spacious outdoor seating areas for guests to enjoy the amazing hilltop view of the property and its roaming game from every vantage point. As an outfitting business, Comstock offers elk, whitetail deer, mule deer, turkey, pheasant, quail, dove, prairie chicken, sharptail grouse, Hungarian partridge, hybridized bighorn sheep, bison and aoudad hunts on their 3,000-acre ranch. Hunters come from all over the world to enjoy the hunting activities and the luxury lodge. The Nebraska hospitality is just an added bonus!

Rowse's 1+1
Jerry and Tammy Rowse own and manage more than 7,000 acres of prime ranch land near Burwell, Nebraska. Its location in the heart of the Sandhills, the largest sand dune formation in North America, is one of breathtaking beauty. At 1+1 Ranch, they don’t offer head-to-tail trail rides, yoga, golf, or spa days. They’re a working cattle ranch – not giving people the opportunity to play cowboy, but become one. A stay at the Rowse’s ranch is a firsthand lesson on how to work, rope, brand, drive, and sort cattle, all while mounted on a trained quarter horse that’s yours for as long as you stay. By limiting the number of guests they take on at any one given time, the ranch cultivates an authentic, up-close and personal experience unlike any other. They’ve built themselves a 5 star Trip Advisor rating with a reputation for wide open spaces, genuine hospitality, phenomenal horses, and unparalleled riding opportunities.


Michael Forsberg, Platte Basin Timelapse Project

Adam Lackner, Brush Buck Wildlife Tours

Michael Marlin, "Luma: Art in Darkness"

Brad Mellema, Executive Director Grand Island Tourism & Visitours Bureau

Doolarie (Dee) Singh-Knights, Associate Professor and Extension Specialist, Agribusiness Economics and Management, West Virginia University

Sarah Sortum, Calamus Outfitters

Steve & Ann Teget,

TJ Walker, Nebraska Game & Parks Wildlife Division

Taste & Feel of Nebraska

Event Description

Event Application




Downloadable Documents

Peer Group Conference of Heritage Clubs International

Sarpy County Tourism is excited to host the annual Peer Group conference of Heritage Clubs International at the Embassy Suites March 11-15, 2019. We have worked hard to bring this event to our region and look forward to having HCI's member bank club directors visit our state from around the country. You will not want to miss the chance to meet face to face with these bank club travel planners while they are in our own back yard. This is a unique opportunity to tap into the lucrative bank travel market to promote and network with directors who plan hundreds of trips for their bank patrons every year.

Heritage bank club directors are always looking for opportunities to provide a great travel experience to their members. They are loyal to Heritage partners... and they like to share their experiences with our club directors. I want to encourage you to take advantage of this tremendous opportunity to promote your business to these highly motivated and loyal club directors by becoming a Heritage Partner. 

Registration will open later this summer, but you can get a leg up on the competition by becoming a member now and getting access to HCI's members right away to begin your summer marketing. 

At Peer Group, you will have the opportunity to have one-on-one appointments with every registered club director at the Business Appointment Marketplace - in fact they are required to attend these appointments. There are meal, reception and print sponsorships available for even greater promotion of your business. 

Check out their website at and become an HCI partner today. Don't miss out on this chance to let these bankers know why Nebraska should be their favorite tour and travel destination. 

If you have any questions about the conference or would like more information on how you can help, contact Fred Uhe with Sarpy County Tourism at or 402.332.5771.

Nebraska Tourism Conference 2018

Hosted by Nebraska City Tourism & Commerce and Nebraska Tourism Commission

Registration  |  Lodging  |  Agenda  |  Speakers  |  Awards  |  Sponsors

Conference Registration

To register for the conference,

  1. Fill out a Registration Form and mail it back  - or -
  2. Fill out the online registration at this link: Online Registration

* Please note that online registrations require a 10% transaction fee in addtion to the amount of the registration.

Registration Types

1.) Full Conference (Tues.-Thurs.) Registration 
     (Includes materials, meals, breaks, and all activities)

  • CVB's/Chambers: $225
  • Non-CVB's/Chambers: $175
  • Student: $50

2.) Tuesday Only (Includes materials, meals, and breaks): $100

3.) Wednesday Only (Includes materials, meals, breaks, and Celebrate Nebraska Banquet) : $150

4.) Wednesday Celebrate Nebraska Banquet Only: $60

If you have any questions about registration, contact Bryce Arens at 402-471-3796 or


Lied Lodge & Conference Center

2700 Sylvan Road

Nebraska City, NE  68410


  • Ask for the Nebraska Tourism Conference Rate
  • Reservations must be booked by Sept. 15, 2018
  • $131.00 per room single occupancy per night + tax
  • $143.00 per room double occupancy per night + tax
  • This rate includes overnight accommodation and breakfast buffet in the Timber Dining Room


Monday October 15-Registration Open 3:00-5:00 P.M.


Tuesday October 16-Registration Open 8:00 A.M.-5:30 P.M.

6:30-8:00 A.M: Free Breakfast for Overnight Guests - Timber Dining Room

8:30-10:30 A.M: NTC Commission Meeting

8:30-11:30 A.M: Sports Roundtable with Jon Schmieder

10:00-5:30 P.M: Exhibit & Silent Auction Open

10:30-11:30 A.M: Newcomer's Orientation

10:00-11:15 A.M: Nebraska Festivals and Events Meeting

10:30-11:30 A.M: Nebraska Byways Meeting

11:45-12:15 P.M: Conference Welcome & Lunch

12:15-1:30 P.M: Keynote Session

  • Increase Your Influence: Eight Essential Attributes of Successful Leaders - Dean Savoca, Savoca Performance Group

1:30-2:00 P.M: Networking Break

2:00-3:15 P.M: Session One

  1. Sign, Sign, Everywhere A Sign, Blocking out the Scenery - Matt Neeman and Jean Todd, Nebraska Department of Transportation

  2. Best (&Worst!) Practices in Sports Tourism Marketing - Jon Schmieder, Huddle Up Group

  3. Producing Videos on a Shoestring Budget - Jameon Rush, Optix Digital Medi

3:15-3:45 P.M: Networking Break

3:15-3:45 P.M: Session Two

  1. Nebraska Tourism 2018-19 Grant Programs - Heather Hogue, Nebraska Tourism Commission and Rebecca Schademann, Nebraska Department of Economic Development

  2. Developing Watchable Wildlife Adventures Panel - Carol Schlegel, McCook/Red Willow County Vistors Bureau; Alie Mays, Nebraska Game & Parks; Patrick Ward, Northwest Missouri State University

  3. Lead Like a Coach: How to Develop and Lead a Rock Star Team - Dean Savoca, Savoca Performance Group

5:00-5:30 P.M: Networking Break

6:00-9:00 P.M: Nebraska City Tourism Showcase-SHUTTLES AVAILABLE

All Nebraska Tourism Conference attendees are invited to the Lewis and Clark Visitors Center for a reception with light appetizers and a taste of local wines. Then, it's fiesta night at the Fox Center Event Space in downtown Nebraska City. Enjoy an authentic Mexican meal, catered by local restaurant El Portal. Then be prepared to be wowed by David Fox, the Midwest Mentalist.

Wednesday, October 17-Registration Open 7:30 A.M.-8:00 P.M.

6:30-8:00 A.M: Free Breakfast for overnight guests - Timber Dining Room

7:30-4:00 P.M: Exhibitors Booths Open

8:00-8:50 A.M: Welcome/Legislative Update/ABA Comments/Sponsors

8:50-9:00 A.M: Stretch break if time allows

9:00-10:00: Keynote Session

  • Unsafe Thinking - Jonah Sachs, Author/Speaker

10:00-10:30 A.M: Networking Break - Visit Exhibtors

10:30-11:45 A.M: Session 3

  1. Things to Know Regarding Lodging Tax - Karen Barrett, Nebraska Department of Revenue

  2. Event Safety - Greg Hollingsead, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

  3. Develop Community Prosperity through Bicycle Tourism - Ginny Sullivan, Adventure Cycling Association

12:00-12:30 P.M: Lunch

12:30-1:30 P.M: General Session - Marketing Update

1:45-3:00 P.M: Session Four

  1. Things to Know Regarding Lodging Tax - Karen Barrett, Nebraska Department of Revenue (Repeat of previous session)

  2. Event Insurance - When is it Neccessary - Shane Ideus, UNICO & Andy Pollock, Remboldt Ludtke LLP

  3. Travel & Editorial Trends - Turner PR

3:00-3:30 P.M: Networking Break - Sponsored by North Platte Visitors Bureau (2019 Conference Hosts) - Visit Exhibitors

3:30-4:45 P.M: Nebraska Tourism Commission 2019 Marketing Unveiling

6:00-7:00 P.M: Celebrate Nebraska Reception

7:00-9:00 P.M: Celebrate Nebraska Awards Banquet

Thursday, October 18

6:30-8:00 A.M: Free Breakfast for overnight guests - Timber Dining Room

8:30-10:30 A.M: NETA Meeting

10:30-11:30 A.M: Store Association Round Table Discussion (Bring list of top 10 selling items & vendors to share with group)


See the attached list for speakers at this year's conference. Information will continue to be updated leading up to the conference date.

Conference Speaker Bios


Awards will be presented in the following categories:

  • Friend of Tourism
  • Outstanding Event 9,999 or below
  • Outstanding Event 10,000 or above
  • Outstanding Marketing Campaign
  • Outstanding Tourism Attraction
  • Outstanding Agritourism or Ecotourism Entity
  • Henry Fonda Award



        Vladimir Jones





AAA Living

Columbus/Platte County Convention & Visitors Bureau

Lincoln Convention & Visitors Bureau

Nebraska Life Magazine

Nebraska Rural Radio Association

Nebraska Travel Association - NETA

North Platte/Lincoln County Visitors Bureau

Optix Digital Media, LLC

Turner Public Relations

Visit Omaha/Sarpy County Tourism



American Bus Association

American Road Magazine

Arbor Day Coffee

Cass County Tourism

Certified Folder Display Services, Inc.

CTM Media Group, Inc.

Discover Northeast Nebraska

Gering Visitors Bureau

Grand Island Convention & Visitors Bureau

Kearney Visitors Bureau

Madden Media

Maly Marketing

Meredith Travel Marketing

Midwest Meetings


Nebraska Winery & Grape Growers Association

Nebraska Craft Brewers Guild

Nebraska Lottery

Omaha World-Herald

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

Sandhills Natural Water

Southeast Nebraska Tourism Council

True West Publishing



Accepting 2018 Tourism Award Nominations

Tourism Industry Awards

Nebraska Tourism Commission recognizes outstanding contributions in tourism in the State of Nebraska.  Review the categories and guidelines below, download the nomination form and send in your nominations today!  



The Friend of Tourism award is given to a person, business, organization, or media outlet that may not be directly involved in the tourism industry but which has been very supportive of local, regional and/or statewide efforts to promote and develop tourism. Freelance writers, corporations, organizations, newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations, and other businesses are eligible for this award. The nominee must demonstrate creative involvement in promotional efforts and provide leadership and resources to various projects. Describe the nominee’s business or association and their efforts to increase tourism revenue in the area. Explain the nominee’s contributions to tourism promotion and include examples of their efforts to collaborate with the local tourism industry.


Only events that occurred between August 1, 2017 and July 31, 2018 are eligible.

               Category 1: Population 9,999 or below

               Category 2: Population 10,000 or above

Nominees include events such as festivals, themed events, community celebrations, and holiday programs. The nominated event should show a high level of organization, event production, and community involvement. Provide a brief history of the event, including why it was started and how it has evolved. Factors that can influence selection include attendance growth, innovative marketing and special promotional efforts. Include its effect on the local economy and any changes to the event that have occurred. Be sure to include the community population where the event takes place and provide a summary of volunteerism, press coverage, and annual attendance. New events are eligible in this category.


This award is given to a community, business, or organization that successfully conducted an advertising campaign or tourism awareness program. This may include a new brand campaign, a social media campaign, a new or updated website, or even a publication.  The nominees must show the various avenues used to promote tourism and the success of those projects. Describe how the tourism campaign increased revenue and/or local awareness about the importance and economic impact that tourism has on communities and areas. Be specific on how the nominee conducted its campaign, the targeted audiences, and how those audiences were chosen. Include budget information; samples of projects; and copies of photographs, advertisements, and other documentation about the history of the campaign and its tourism impact on the region. Judged on research, creativity, demographic target and strategy, nominations should have an explanation of how program was implemented and measurement of achievement and results originating from the targeting.


This award is given to Nebraska tourism attractions that have worked toward the continued success and growth of their communities and the state’s tourism industries. Attractions that have undergone significant improvements, changes, or additions to increase the number of visitors to the attraction, community, region, and state are encouraged. All Nebraska attractions are eligible for this award, such as museums, zoos, cultural and performance art centers, and historical sites and parks. Describe the attraction’s impact on the local, regional, and statewide tourism levels. Describe how the attraction has worked to increase the number of visitors to the community, region, and state. Describe how the attraction has collaborated with other tourism entities in the community, region, and state.


This award is given to an outstanding Agritourism and / or Ecotourism entity, such as outfitters, bird and wildlife watching facilities, working farms and ranches, farmers markets, wineries and vineyards, non-profit groups, and nature tourism related businesses that have had a substantial impact on the local, regional, and state’s tourism economy. Describe how the entity has influenced the tourism industry, its history, future plans and projects to further better this industry, and the services/activities/events it offers. Include supporting materials, such as letters of support, customer testimonials, marketing materials, and plans and other information to demonstrate the entity’s overall economic and tourism impact.

Henry Fonda Award


Named after a famous Nebraskan who never forgot his roots, the Henry Fonda Award recognizes an individual who has devoted many years of service to promoting Nebraska on a local, regional and statewide level. This person loves Nebraska and has made it their life’s work to support and promote education, tourism and the preservation of Nebraska’s precious historical treasures. Please include a brief bio of your nominee and why this person is deserving of this award. Please include greatest achievements, partnerships within projects, and tourism and economic development accomplishments.


Nomination Guidelines

In your nomination, please provide the requested information on the following pages for each Industry award category.  Please provide three copies (one original and two copies) of each nomination. Include letters of support and other supporting materials. (Please do not send letters of support and supporting materials separate from your nomination.)  Use no more than two typed pages for each Industry award nomination. Letters of support and other supporting materials do not count toward the two page maximum. Nominations must either be stapled or binder clipped. Nominations in notebooks or folders will not be accepted.  Please use the same nomination form for each award category. 

All award nominations were due Friday, September 7, 2018.

Winners Announcement

Award winners will be announced at the Celebrate Nebraska Awards Banquet on October 17, 2018.

Tourism conference award winners receive recognition in press releases following the event and will have their acceptance photos shared on the Tourism Commissions website and social media channels.

They also receive a FREE premium profile on the Tourism Commission’s website in 2019 (a $700 value). A premium profile allows for an enhanced photo gallery and the ability to include videos. It also allows the destination to have a longer description than the basic profile.