Kenai's Ricky Gease has been named the new executive director of the Kenai River Sportfishing Association.
Gease, who currently serves as executive director for the Kenai Convention and Visitor's Bureau, was selected from a list of 11 finalists. He replaces Brett Huber, who resigned from KRSA in August.
He will begin his new job around the first of the year.
Gease, who holds a master's degree in biology from Stanford University, has previously worked as a park ranger in Kenai Fjords National Park and Acadia Institute of Oceanography in Seal Harbor, Maine. He said Friday he's looking forward to getting back into the fisheries field.
"If you told me when I was a little kid that I'd be making a living in fishing, well, I'm just very excited to be there," Gease said.
As executive director, Gease will be responsible for planning, coordinating budget and fund-raising activities and directing volunteer activities for KRSA. He said he has no immediate plans to make any changes at the organization; rather, he hopes to build on habitat and education work the group has done in the past.
"I want to continue the work they do in terms of habitat preservation along the Kenai River, as well as continue with education efforts they've been doing," he said.
Gease was selected by a search committee that included KRSA board members. In a statement released Thursday, KRSA chair Ron Rainey said Gease fit the committee's criteria perfectly, and he was a natural choice for the job.
"Ricky brings to KRSA the right combination of experience and education that we need right now," Rainey said. "We are thrilled to have found a person from the local area who is well respected and liked, and recognizes how important the Kenai River is to the people and region's economy."
KRSA is a non-profit corporation that promotes sport fishing on the Kenai River through river habitat projects, participation in the fisheries regulation process and support of environmental education programs.
Its biggest fund-raising event, the annual Kenai River Classic fishing tournament, brings politicians and celebrities to the river each year. The event raised more than $1 million this year.
Gease said he hopes to concentrate his efforts as executive director on building partnerships with other area fishing and habitat groups. His goal, he said, is to ensure that KRSA is able to engage in cooperative efforts with as many other agencies and organizations as possible, he said.
"We all use the river," he said. "We all have to be able to sit down at the same table and at the end of the day have respect for one another's opinions."
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