In June 4 IssueBy John ThompsonNews-Register Reporter
Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery was recently nominated and was selected as the number one Outstanding Visitor Attraction Experience in the 47 counties of Tourseky (Tour Southern and Eastern Kentucky), and the hatcheries own Amanda Patrick was named as Outstanding Hospitality Personality.
"We're really honored to have received the award," said James Gray, Project Leader at the hatchery, "There are a lot of tourist destinations in the 47 counties and to be selected the best is a pretty big honor."
The recognition was a part of Tourseky's "Experience THE BLOOM" award ceremony held May 24, 2011, at the Center For Rural Development in Somerset.
"I was really excited that our hatchery was chosen," said John Carter with the Russell County Tourism Commission, "out of the 47 counties involved to be chosen really is an honor, but they really do deserve it."
Patrick said winning the Outstanding Hospitality Personality award came as a complete shock to her; "It was very unexpected," said Patrick, "I was nominated alongside so many folks I greatly admire and respect."
Patrick's dedication is widely recognized, and according to Crowe, the decision to choose her as the Outstanding Hospitality Personality of the year was greatly simplified by the fact that she received many nominations from different people even beyond Russell County.
At a time when the fish hatchery budget is threatened by the Federal 2012 budgeting process, the honor comes as a welcomed recognition of the services provided by a tourist attraction that not only receives over 100,000 visitors a year, but also is the sole provider of stock trout in our state, as well as helping provide rainbow and brown trout fingerlings to Georgia's waterways.
In September 2006, the hatchery officially opened the Visitor/Environmental Education Center. The facility is currently the first and only center of its kind in the Southeast Region. Through state-of-the-art exhibits, classroom, indoor theater and gift shop, the center serves as a fun and engaging learning resource for all visitors, especially school children from the region. The center also offers a myriad of outreach programs and workshops (including the annual Catch a Rainbow Kids Fishing Derby, held on the first Saturday in June each year) and has launched the Biologist in Training Program, an aquatic environmental education curriculum, which is designed for hatcheries and tailored to meet the needs of teachers in Kentucky. The facility is supported by the Friends of Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery, Inc. and a strong volunteer staff.
"The fish hatchery offers something in our region that no one else can offer, or can offer at the level of experience they can offer to the people," said Jeff Crow, President/CEO of Tourseky.
With the Wolf Creek Fish Hatchery's budget on the Federal Budget chopping block it is important that politicians understand the economic and cultural impact of such a facility on our county, our region and state. For more information on the hatchery and how you can contact your representatives, go to www.friendsofwolfcreeknfh.com.
TOUR Southern and Eastern Kentucky (TOUR SEKY) is a nonprofit organization created in 1987 by Congressman Hal Rogers (KY 5th Dist.), originally named the Southern and Eastern Kentucky Tourism Development Association (SEKTDA). Their mission is to educate, expand, develop and market the existing and potential tourism industry throughout southern and eastern Kentucky, while contributing to the economic, cultural growth, health and awareness, and overall quality of life of the region.
TOUR SEKY, through its 47-county service area, utilizes funds to train small business operators, community leaders, and entrepreneurs in hospitality, marketing, customer retention, and business plan development.
TOUR offers a number of programs to help with tourism development at downtown revitalization. The C.I.T.Y. (Community Initiatives in Tourism for You) program is designed to assist southern and eastern Kentucky downtowns in keeping their culture and attracting people to live, work, shop and play. C.I.T.Y.'s mission is to motivate communities to continue their efforts for community rebirth and Revitalization.
For more information about TOUR SEKY or to request a free region guide, please call 606-677-6099.