As an undergraduate at Lewis and Clarke College in Oregon, Todd Comen spent a semester in the South Pacific, an experience that convinced him of the importance of travel as a part of education. Since coming to Johnson State College in 1997, Todd has led trips to Costa Rica, France, Quebec and New York City. The students get to see the way the eco-tourism has affected Costa Rican tourist industry, or attend the International Hotel and Restaurant Showcase at the Javits Center in New York. They also learn first-hand what it means to be a tourist. These experiences will ultimately benefit their understanding of the hospitality and tourism industry.
A passion for helping to preserve rural lifestyles, too, has helped shape Todd’s career. Among other things, Todd has developed a small, full-service country inn on a 140-acre working farm in Northern California and served as the founder and manager of the Institute for Integrated Rural Tourism, which provides training and consulting on development and marketing strategies in rural locations in Honduras, Vermont, Poland, Belarus, and other places. This work, he says, “honors rural life patterns,” and helps people in rural communities enter the tourist industry in a way that both preserves their way of life and recognizes the value in it.