Two of Sanibel's top environmental organizations received Chrysalis Awards last week from the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau (VCB) and Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce as part of their observance of National Travel and Tourism week.
Seven businesses and three individuals were honored May 9 at the third annual Business & Tourism Awards Luncheon and Trade Show at Harborside Event Center in Fort Myers.
Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF) and "Ding" Darling Wildlife Society (DDWS) are this city's award recipients. Chrysalis Awards go to business category winners and Junonia Awards go to winning individuals.
Accepting the Chrysalis Award is 'Ding' Darling Wildlife Society executive director Birgie Vertesch (second from right). With her, from left, are Colleen Pasquale, Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce; Richard Lewis, HSA Engineers & Scientists and last year's Education winner; and Tamara Pigott, VCB executive director.
Recipients are recognized for their positive impact on the local community in keeping with the value of tourism as a major economic influence in Lee County.
"It's an honor, as with any award, for anyone to be nominated and be recognized for all of our work," said DDWS executive director Birgie Vertesch, who accepted the award at last week's ceremony. "To actually win the award is great. It's wonderful to be recognized for all of our accomplishments in educating thousands of people about the environment."
The Chrysalis Award has been hung in a place of honor in the Education Center right next to a number of other awards received over the years.
"The award recognizes the impact we are making and is important to show others," said Vertesch. "Each is its own unique award, but this one is a countywide award and it's always an honor."
More than 80 nominees were judged within their respective categories. Winners are chosen based on how they distinguished themselves in the community, along with their efforts to promote the destination, contributions to business and tourism partnerships for the county and work to foster growth and sustainability.
"To us it means that more than just Sanibel-Captiva are aware of the work we do," said SCCF education director Kristie Anders. "It shows the positive impact we have throughout the area on tourism."
Chrysalis Awards signify a partnership between the business and tourism communities.
"Our staff is thrilled by being noticed," said Anders. "It's important because it goes back to the people outside the island. We are not well known off island, but the impact is a much larger scale. Representatives (of VCB) were very impressed when they came to the Nature Center. The big package we offer never dawned on them before."
SCCF's award was given in the eco-innovation category while DDWS' award was given in the education category.
Other category winners were Miracle Baseball (sales & marketing); Boston Red Sox (sports); Florida Repertory Theatre (cultural); Ensite Inc. (sustainability); and Scott Fischer Enterprises (business development).
The Junonia Awards were created by the VCB in 2006 to recognize individuals who demonstrate leadership and dedication throughout the local tourism community. The three winners were: Barbara Manzo, director of Lee County Parks & Recreation; Captain John "Giddy-Up" Bunch, founder of Operation Open Arms; and Tony Lapi, chairman of Visit Florida.