Salt Lake Visitors Center in the Salt Palace
Salt Lake Visitors Center in the Salt Palace, Sean Buckley
About Visit Salt Lake

Dianne Nelson Binger Scholarship & Endowment

At the 2006 Annual Meeting, the Dianne Nelson Binger Scholarship and Endowment was established with the Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Department in the University of Utah's College of Health. It is bestowed annually to a female student at the University of Utah in the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism of the College of Health. The scholarship honors Binger's example of a strong female professional in the hospitality industry, her mentoring of other women and VSL's desire to remember her in a meaningful way.

Dianne served the Bureau and Salt Lake for 18 years, becoming President and CEO in 2001. She was a great mentor for many of us and a good friend to all of us. Sadly, her fifth battle with cancer ended her life in March of 2005. Funding for this scholarship is a part of Visit Salt Lake's Annual Meeting each year, with a goal of a $50,000 endowment that will fund the scholarship in perpetuity.

Scholarship Recipients

Michelle Davis - Michelle is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism at the University, with an emphasis in Community Recreation and Sports Management. She has a strong desire to promote and provide the benefits of participating in sports throughout every stage of life. Her goal following graduation is to work in event management for a professional sports team.  

Gabrielle Olsen - Gabby has traveled throughout the west and internationally to climb. During her sophomore year of college she became president of the Uscend climbing club at the University of Utah, which has now grown to more than 300 members. She is currently studying Parks, Recreation, and Tourism with an emphasis in sustainable tourism at the University and is excited about the opportunities in the tourism and travel industry. 

Jamie Bennett - Jamie received her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Utah in 2013, in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism, with an emphasis in Therapeutic Recreation and is currently in her second semester of a master’s degree at the University of Utah. Jamie is developing research to investigate how Recreational Therapy can be used with children to promote good health and to prevent long term illness and disease.

Stephenie “Rainy” Butler - Rainy received her Associates in Art from Utah Valley University with Honors in 2010. She is currently a junior at the University of Utah, majoring in Parks, Recreation and Tourism with an emphasis in Adventure and Outdoor Programming. 

Melanie Reed - By the time Melanie was 18, she had traveled to five countries (Mexico, Thailand, Malaysia, Caribbean and Australia), and many of the “Lower 48” states. During the winter of ‘08-‘09, Melanie spent five months in South America visiting parks in Peru, Bolivia, Chili and Argentina. She enjoyed trekking the jungles of Bolivia, mountaineering a volcano in Chili, and wandering the many mountain trails of Argentina. By the time she left South America, she knew she wanted to pursue an education in Parks, Recreation and Tourism. The summer of 2010 found Melanie working for the Alaska Railroad in Denali National Park as a Passenger Service Operative. Melanie returned to Denali National Park in 2011 and worked as a volunteer under the Subsistence Resource Manager. 

Cecily Kind
- Kind has been on the Dean's List since enrolling at the University of Utah, and has been invited to join the National Society of Leadership and Success and the Golden Key International Honor Society.

In order to preserve historical locations for future generations to experience, Kind's goal following graduation is to work with heritage tourism locations in order to assess how they can increase visitor interest in a sustainable way without disrupting the location's physical integrity. To that end, Kind recently began an internship with the Utah Office of Tourism, working on sustainability programs for local tourism industry businesses. Her volunteer work with the Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department at the Kaysville Botanical Center and the Nature Conservancy has rounded out her educational experience.

Gina Wehling - Wehling studies in the Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department with an emphasis on Therapeutic Recreation. Wehling received her Associate degree at Prairie State in Chicago Heights, Illinois, before transferring to the University of Utah.

Anniken Rose - A graduate student at the University of Utah, Rose studies in the Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department with an emphasis on Theraputic Recreation, and is slated for graduation in May of 2010.

Cathy Haas - Originally from San Mateo, Calif., Haas earned a degree in Sociology from the University of Oregon before receiving her master's in Recreation Administration from Cal State Sacramento. Haas is in her final year of the University of Utah's 4-year doctorate program, where her emphasis is in Public Parks & Recreation.



Donors to the scholarship and endowment have made the continuing funding of the scholarship possible.

Individuals or corporations interested in contributing to the Dianne Nelson Binger Scholarship and Endowment fund can call the University of Utah Development Office at 801-585-3205 or donate online.