Who We Are


Sustainable Tourism and Environment Program at the University of Northern Iowa originated in Hawaii at the School of Travel Industry Management at the University of Hawaii. The program is now in its fifth year at UNI. The Project Director moved the project to the University of Northern Iowa. We are presently preparing plans and surveys for a number of projects in Iowa. UNI offers the only tourism degree and tourism certificate program among the Iowa Regents Universities. The mission of this program is to build the cultural, social and environmental relationships in the tourism development process and to use sustainable practices in the process.
We utilize students in the proposal writing, data collection, data entry, and reporting phases of each project. Students gain training, a stipend, and the client receives a first rate research product at a very reasonable cost. Students are supervised by professional Project Managers and faculty who have over 25 years experience in conducting these types of projects for public, private, and non-profit organizations in Hawaii, the U.S. mainland, and other countries.

STEP Coordinators

Sam Lankford (Program Director, STEP) holds a PhD in Tourism Planning and Development and a Master in Urban Planning from the University of Oregon, as well as MA in Recreation and Park Planning and a BA in Community Planning from California State University, Chico. He has been a practicing planner in both staff and consulting roles in California, Oregon, and Hawaii, and conducted over 60 market research studies in those states and other countries. Contact: sam.lankford@uni.edu

Jill Lankford (Program Director, R2S) holds a Master in Urban Planning and a Master of Landscape Architecture from the University of Oregon. She has conducted numerous studies and tourism development plans for small towns in Oregon and other states. Contact: jill.lankford@uni.edu

Wade Kooiman (Program Staff) holds an EdD in Leisure Services from the University of Northern Iowa, and MA and a BA from the University of Mary in Bismarck (North Dakota). His research interests include coaching, youth leadership, parks and recreation economic impact studies and evaluation. Contact: wade.kooiman@uni.edu

Oksana Grybovych (Program Staff) holds an EdD in Leisure Services from the University of Northern Iowa (USA), MSc in Leisure and Environments from the University of Wageningen (the Netherlands), and a BA in Economics/ Management from the Institute of Economics and Law (Ukraine). Her research interests include civic and community engagement, participatory community tourism planning, and economic impacts of tourism. Contact: oksana.grybovych@uni.edu

Chris Kowalski (Program Staff) holds an EdD in Leisure Services from the University of Northern Iowa, MS from the University of Idaho and a BA from Creighton University (Nebraska). His research interests are coaching and youth leadership and efficacy. Contact: chris.kowalski@uni.edu