Outdoor Advocacy: Dan McCoy '90
Daintry Duffy Zaterka '88
Dan McCoy '90 pursues his passion for outdoor recreation in a new role as the director of the Wyoming Outdoor Recreation, Tourism, and Hospitality (WORTH) Initiative.
Dr. Dan McCoy started a new chapter in his longtime advocacy for outdoor recreation when he was appointed the inaugural director of the Wyoming Outdoor Recreation, Tourism, and Hospitality (WORTH) Initiative this past March. The goal of the WORTH initiative is to harness the collective research and business acumen of the University of Wyoming (where Dan has worked for 22 years), the state’s community colleges, and several other collaborators to support the state’s tourism and hospitality industry.
Wyoming has unique selling propositions as a tourist destination as well as some unique challenges. Wyoming is the least populous state and 50% of its land is public. “We have some pretty amazing natural resources here,” says Dan. “While people tend to think of the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, or Devil’s Tower when they think of Wyoming, we also have outstanding recreational amenities for people interested in snowmobiling, driving jeeps and ATVs, or wildlife viewing.” Currently, much of the tourism attention and investment is focused on Park and Teton counties in the northwest corner of the state and Laramie and Cheyenne, Wyoming in the southeast.
However, with a varied landscape of mountains and deserts, different counties have different needs. Under Dan’s leadership, the WORTH initiative will use its education and research skills to showcase the cultural offerings of less-visited counties while helping active tourism areas to manage its impact sustainably.
As a teen, Dan spent his summers at different adventure- based camps and completed a semester with NOLS in Patagonia, Chile. He spent his early career coordinating outdoor programs at Longacre Expeditions and Sweet Briar College, later working as a Leave No Trace volunteer and liaison to the State of Wyoming’s Center for Outdoor Ethics. He joined the University of Wyoming in 1999 as the coordinator of their outdoor program, eventually serving as a lecturer and coordinator for the university’s degree program in Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Management. One of Dan’s joys these days is watching his two sons discover their own paths to outdoor adventure. “My older son is getting into rock climbing, Nordic skiing, and biking, and my youngest is really into downhill skiing. It’s fun to see how they have taken their own directions!”