ROME CITY– Property manager Dave Fox and interpretive naturalist Tiffany Conrad of the Gene Stratton-Porter State Historic Site have been selected as 2017 Hoosier Hospitality Award winners. Both will be honored Aug. 18 at a ceremony at the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis.
The Noble County Convention & Visitors Bureau nominated Fox and Conrad for the state award. Fox and Conrad were honored for their work in making the historic site a top Noble County visitor attraction. Fox and Conrad led the completion of eight Bicentennial Legacy Projects in 2016, including the Wetland Restoration, Environmental Resource Center, Wildlife Viewing Area, Kitchen Restoration in the Cabin at Wildflower Woods, Bicentennial Tea, Bicentennial Nature Trust, A Taste of Wildflower Woods Cookbook, and the Sylvan Lake Osprey Platform. A current project, an island gazebo for wildlife viewing and a boardwalk, is expected to enhance enjoyment of the wetlands for visitors and field trip students.
Fox’s nomination said, in part: “Dave does an outstanding job of making the site visitor-ready with attractive signage, engaging exhibits and a well-trained staff and tour guides. He works tirelessly to add to Gene’s legacy with new research, information and artifacts. He has guided the restoration and maintenance of Gene’s century-old gardens, drawing visitors who enjoy the setting as well as those who are interested in the author. He is leading a multiyear project to restore the property’s wetlands to pre-settlement condition.”
Fox was a torchbearer in the 2016 Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay, honoring Gene’s legacy to the state and nation. He recently appeared in a new video, produced by the Noble County CVB for its online platforms, to tell the famous author’s story. The video includes stunning photography and drone footage of the historic site and can be seen at www.visitnoblecounty.com . He has spearheaded campaigns to name Rome City, Kendallville, Albion and Ligonier as Bird Towns by the Indiana Audubon Society, and is now the statewide volunteer director for the program.
Conrad’s nomination said, in part: “Tiffany organizes and plans many of the events that draw visitors to the Gene Stratton-Porter State Historic Site. She is actively engaged in the multiyear wetlands restoration project on the site, an effort which has drawn wildlife for visitors to see. She has worked extensively with other site staff on Bicentennial Legacy Projects for the historic site.
As an interpretive naturalist, Conrad communicates to visitors Gene’s “ahead-of-her-time” work in wildlife and natural resource conservation and environmental causes, long before those issues were in the public eye. Conrad is an entertaining, knowledgeable and personable tour guide, whether she is engaged with students on a field trip, other tour groups or the spontaneous visitor.
The Hoosier Hospitality Awards are presented annually by the Indiana Office of Tourism Development and the lieutenant governor to recognize employees or volunteers on the front lines of the tourism industry who provide a high level of service in tourism-related jobs at hotels, restaurants, attractions and other destinations. Winners are chosen on the basis of their contributions to local and state tourism, how they exhibit dedication to the tourism industry, and how they personify Hoosier Hospitality.