In line with National Tourism Week, three ‘frontline’ tourism workers were honored May 11, at the second-annual H.E.R.O.E.S. Awards ceremony, on board the Sundancer Yacht.
National Tourism Week extends May 7 to May 15, and in honor of the eight-day event, the Flagler County Tourist Development Council, the Chamber of Commerce & Affiliates and the Flagler County Board of County Commissioners honored three of the county’s premier “frontline” hospitality workers.
“You only have one chance to make a first impression,” County Commissioner Milissa Holland, who chairs the TDC, told guests of the second-annual Hospitality Employees Recognition of Excellent Service ceremony, May 11, aboard the Sundancer Yacht.
H.E.R.O.E.S awards recipients Danny Lippi, David Keller and Cheryl Carl, Holland said, serve as visitors’ first impressions of Flagler, and they do an amazing job of it. They were chosen from a pool of 17 managerial nominations countywide.
Tourism is the No. 1 industry in the state, employing more than 1 million people and producing over $3.9 billion from taxable sales revenue. Local employees have helped to make Flagler tourism a success, according to TD Vice President Peggy Heiser.
“Things are going extremely well in Flagler County,” she said.
Each winner was called to the podium to accept glass trophies.
When Danny Lippi was a kid, he couldn’t have cared less about marshes and swamps. As he got older, though, he got into zookeeping and started learning the science behind Florida’s landscapes; his interests started shifting.
A graduate of the University of Florida, Lippi has been in the nature game almost 15 years — 11 as a professional. A Ripple Effect Ecotours employee, he’s a kayak guide and Naturalist Instructor at UF’s Whitney Labs.
He said he loves opening peoples’ eyes to the importance of the surrounding ecosystem.
The favorite part of his job?
“When you can take a family out that just wants to splash paddles and show them something more,” he said.
According to Cheryl Carl, of the Florida Agricultural Museum, her official title is “mudslinger.”
In reality, Carl is the volunteer barn manager at the museum. She cleans and feeds 16 horses. She leads trail rides and lessons, conducts summer camps, birthday parties, school tours and hayrides.
Her favorite part of the job is the quiet time she shares with the animals — that, and empowering children with memorable new life experiences. Kids don’t remember toys, Carl said.
Seeing an 8-year-old’s fear transform into love when they get on top of a horse and start riding — that’s the reward she takes home with her every night.
A three-year bellman at Hammock Beach Resort, David Keller dominates the county hotel record for most positive guest comments in a month, with 59.
A retired Ohio police officer, he spontaneously moved to Saint Augustine with his wife in 2005 after 23 years in law enforcement. They moved to Palm Coast three years later to be closer to his job.
“I’d rather serve than be served,” Keller said, a trait he imagines stems from his years as a cop. “I love people … Everybody’s family.”
Heiser said residents can contribute to the local tourism cause by visiting www.sharealittlesun shine.com to share positive Flagler County experiences that will entice out-of-towners to the area. For every 85 visitors to Florida, she told the county commissioners at a May 3 meeting, one new job is created.
THE NOMINEES ARE...
Three winners were honored with TDC’s H.E.R.O.E.S. Awards, Wednesday, May 11; 14 others were nominated. The nominees:
Anthony Greaves – Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area
Debbie Milner – Florida Agricultural Museum
Alberta Cargill – Hammock Beach Resort
Gracinda Silva – Hammock Beach Resort
Harry Tharpe – Hammock Beach Resort
Jackie Van Middlesworth – Hammock Beach Resort
Kadie Withrow – Hammock Beach Resort
Lisa Palmer – Hammock Beach Resort
Madeline Kinney – Hammock Beach Resort
Pat Sandy – Hammock Beach Resort
Reginal Mathelier – Hammock Beach Resort
Tucker Subers – Hammock Beach Resort
Jeri Harper – Palm Harbor Golf Club
Josh Crews – Woody’s Bar-B-Q
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