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Enormous Landmarks, Changes at Oregon Coast Aquarium
(Newport, Oregon) - It's been a month of big changes, milestones and additions already at the big tourist attraction in Newport. Oregon Coast Aquarium President and Chief Executive Officer Dale Schmidt announced his resignation, a major grant was presented to the facility and it celebrated its ten millionth visitor this past week.
Schmidt began his tenure at the Aquarium on December 1, 2004, and announced in early September that he would be leaving his position here a position for the Assistant Zoo Director and Chief Operating Officer at The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Columbus, Ohio. The move will bring Schmidt closer to his family in the Midwest.
A national search for Schmidt’s replacement has begun.
Schmidt originally from the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Clearwater, Florida where he served as Executive Director. He previously served as the Vice President of Operations at the Florida Aquarium in Tampa following a career of increasingly responsible positions with Busch Gardens and Universal Studios Florida.
"I am very proud to have had the opportunity to lead such a fine team of staff and volunteers," Schmidt said. "Our accomplishments over the last four years are truly a testament to the dedication and hard work of the board of directors, staff, and volunteers. I have really enjoyed my tenure at the Aquarium, but the opportunity to move closer to family and become part of a dynamic institution such as the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium was an offer too good to refuse. I have every confidence that the positive steps we have taken since my arrival will continue making this the preeminent attraction and ocean education center we all envision it can become."
Fred Postlewait, Chairman of the Aquarium Board of Directors, said Schmidt has served well in his position as President and CEO at the Aquarium. "Dale has done a marvelous job in leading us the past four years and we wish him the very best. We are grateful for everything he has done for the Aquarium and the community."
Aquarium management noted some significant forward motion for the facility since Schmidt took over. Milestones he is getting at least partial credit for include getting named in the "Top Ten Aquariums" by various media in the last four years, stabilizing the aquarium's financial situation, increased revenue and attendance, and the passing of a county room tax to help support the aquarium and the local fairgrounds. During Schmidt’s time, the aquarium was also able to complete a five-year plan for its future, and improve its outreach programs to students all over the state, as well as greatly increase its public image.
Some big money came the way of the facility recently as well.
The Aquarium has received a two thousand dollar grant from US Bancorp, which will assist the Aquarium with one of its primary objectives: to foster an informed stewardship of the coastal environment. The money will got to funding onsite and outreach programs during the coming school year.
A two thousand dollar grant received from US Bancorp will help fund onsite and outreach programs during the 2008-2009 school year.
Sherrie Payne-Marvin,US Bank Newport Branch Manager, presented the donation to Dale Schmidt, outgoing Aquarium President, earlier this summer.
Schmidt said the programs are engaging a larger number of students, through this donation and other efforts. Schmidt said all Aquarium exhibits and programs focus on coastal habitats, from the forests of the Coast Range , through rivers and estuaries, to the shoreline and the open sea.
“It is a complex story that we tell,” Schmidt said. “What makes the coastal ecosystem special, how the habitats work together and what can affect them.”
In 2007, 28,777 students from 103 schools in Oregon benefited from the Aquarium's outreach programs. Visitors come from all over the state and the world, like Japan and Germany, and many others. Since its opening in 1992, ten million people have walked through the Oregon Coast Aquarium’s doors.
The aquarium was able to celebrate its ten millionth visitor this week.
When Peggy Scott approached the admissions desk at the Oregon Coast Aquarium with her family on September 11, she had no idea what awaited her. Most of the Aquarium staff stood waiting with prizes and fanfare to bestow upon some lucky person while visitors were counted down to a major milestone. As she was approached by Cherie Whittington, Aquarium Visitor Services Manager, Scott’s eyes widened with surprise as she was told about her status as the Aquarium’s 10 millionth visitor. She was presented with prizes that included a lifetime family membership, a gift basket full of Aquarium merchandise and an announcement over the Aquarium’s PA system.
“I had no idea what was going on,” said Scott. “This is unbelievable.”
Scott smiled and accepted the prizes graciously as
Aquarium staff surrounded her and her family with cheers and applause.
The Scotts, including husband Rusty, son D.J. and daughter Rachel and
their families, were visiting Newport from Napa and Caldwell Idaho. “We
hadn’t been here since Keiko was here and decided it was time to
visit the Oregon coast again,” said Scott.
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