Commerce Earmarks $30,000 for Agritourism Scholarships

Awards in the amount of $5,000 and $2,000 to help operators.

The Agriculture Marketing Division of the Kansas Department of Commerce is sponsoring $30,000 in scholarships to help Kansas agritourism operators attend conferences, seminars and educational tours, gain first-hand information regarding practices and techniques used by other agritourism vendors and develop nationwide relationships within the industry.

"Agritourism is a growing component of the rural Kansas economy," says Commerce Secretary Howard Fricke. "This scholarship program will help Kansas agritourism operators develop the skills they need to expand and remain competitive in a dynamic industry. The success of these businesses affects all Kansans, who ultimately benefit from a more vibrant economy and the existence of exciting attractions here in their state."

Two types of scholarships will be awarded:
Conference Attendance Scholarships. These scholarships will reimburse awardees up to $5,000 per application for all costs related to educational tours, workshops, seminars, registration and one year's annual organizational dues related to attendance at an approved agritourism, tourism or agricultural direct marketing conference. Each approved application must consist of two representatives from the agritourism operation, both being directly involved in the operations, marketing and development of the business, and both must attend the conference. Funds may not be used for travel, lodging or incidental expenses.

Best-Practices Educational Trip Scholarships. These scholarships will reimburse awardees up to $2,000 per application for costs associated with guided, organized trips to agritourism, tourism or value-added businesses regionally or nationally. Funds may be used to offset the following costs related to the trip: vehicle rental, lodging, airfare, motor coach costs, consultation fees charged by the business being visited, admission fees to model attractions or events, insurance for trip participants for the duration of the trip or shared educational materials purchased for or during the trip. Collaborative proposals involving multiple regional or market group partners will receive priority designation.

All applicant businesses must be registered with the Department of Commerce as a certified agritourism operation as provided by the Agritourism Promotion Act, K.S.A. 74-50,165 et seq. Applications will be accepted until Nov. 15 and are available online at www.kansasagritourism.org. Awards will be announced by Dec. 15.

For more information, contact Commerce agritourism program manager Sarah Larison at (785) 296-3737.

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