MUSCATINE, Iowa — After more than two years on staff with the Muscatine Journal, one-time Sports Editor Nick Cusick is moving on to a new playing field — promoting tourism in his adopted home.
Cusick, 25, began work as the new director of the Muscatine Convention and Visitors Bureau on Monday. He replaces Hannah Wilke, who left her position in July after a year on the job to take a position with Solon State Bank in Solon.
The native of Cottage Grove, Minnesota, just eight miles southeast of the Twin Cities, said that while he had enjoyed his time with the Journal, the opportunity to work with the bureau was too good to pass up.
"This was more of an opportunity to use my educational background," Cusick said.
That background included a bachelor’s degree in mass communication with a minor in adventure tourism from Winona State University in Winona, Minnesota. Cusick said tourism was a big part of his college experience, which included a two-month work-study trip through Australia and New Zealand. Although the outdoors terrain of Muscatine is not quite as exotic as either of those two countries, Cusick said there are plenty of opportunities for outdoors adventures in the area, such as the new Deep Lakes Park.
The board's chairman, Chuck Van Hecke, praised Cusick's hiring, saying his knowledge of tourism issues and familiarity with social media made him an attractive candidate.
“We are thrilled to have Nick join the Muscatine Convention and Visitors Bureau and look forward to his outstanding leadership,” Van Hecke said in a press release announcing the hiring.
In addition to his tourism background as well as the communications and social media skills he developed during his time at the Journal, Cusick said that his relative newcomer status in Muscatine might well help him keep in tune with what visitors to the area might be interested in.
"Hopefully, I can have a bit of an unbiased viewpoint," he said.
Cusick admitted that the new job also means fewer hours and more free time with his longtime girlfriend, Lillian Wellenstein of Muscatine. He'll also see a bit more of her during work hours as well — Wellenstein works as program supervisor for the Muscatine Department of Parks and Recreation, located in Muscatine City Hall, where the Muscatine Convention and Visitors Bureau has its offices.
Although funded by city hotel-motel taxes, the bureau is independent from both the city and the group that founded it, the Greater Muscatine Chamber of Commerce & Industry.