Dunes nat­u­ral­ist wins Hoosier Hospi­tal­ity Award

Post-Tribune - - Neighbors - BY AMY LAVALLEY Post-Tri­bune cor­re­spon­dent

CHESTERTON — In­di­ana Dunes State Park of­fered between 800 and 850 pro­grams last year, in­clud­ing those off-site, reach­ing about 105,000 peo­ple.

Brad Bum­gard­ner, an interpretive nat­u­ral­ist for the park who pro­vided those num­bers, es­ti­mates he prob­a­bly han­dled about half of those pro­grams.

So it might not be much of a sur­prise that Lorelei Weimer, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of In­di­ana Dunes Tourism, nom­i­nated Bum­gard­ner for a Hoosier Hospi­tal­ity Award, an honor he re­ceived Aug. 15 from Lt. Gov. Sue Ellsper­mann.

Bum­gard­ner started work­ing with the state park sys­tem in 2001, while he was still a stu­dent at Pur­due Univer­sity-West Lafayette, where he ma­jored in forestry and nat­u­ral re­sources.

His first job was at Pok­agon State Park in An­gola, where he’s from. Bum­gard­ner has been at the dunes for seven years.

In her nom­i­na­tion, Weimer said Bum­gard­ner “is richly de­serv­ing of a Hoosier Hospi­tal­ity Award be­cause he goes above and be­yond in at­tract­ing peo­ple to In­di­ana Dunes State Park for great pro­gram­ming, then he makes those he comes in con­tact with glad they vis­ited.”

She went on to note that dur­ing the cold, snowy win­ter, Bum­gard­ner “turned that neg­a­tive into a pos­i­tive” by gen­er­at­ing in­ter­est in shelf ice for­ma­tions along the Lake Michi­gan shore­line.

Bum­gard­ner was un­der­stand­ably mod­est about re­ceiv­ing the honor.

“Ob­vi­ously, it’s hum­bling, but there’s a lot of work done in the park. There’s no sin­gle per­son,” he said. “It’s a large team here.”

Bum­gard­ner was one of 18 rep­re­sen­ta­tives of In­di­ana’s travel, tourism and hospi­tal­ity in­dus­try who earned the Hoo- sier Hospi­tal­ity Award for their high level of ser­vice in tourism­re­lated jobs at ho­tels, restau­rants, at­trac­tions and other des­ti­na­tions.

Com­mu­nity mem­bers and des­ti­na­tion pa­trons sub­mit nom­i­na­tions for Hoosier Hospi­tal­ity Awards. Nom­i­na­tions are re­viewed and the In­di­ana Of­fice of Tourism Devel­op­ment, ac­cord­ing to a news re­lease from that of­fice, se­lects win­ners. Out­stand­ing ser­vice is a ma­jor fac­tor in de­ter­min­ing whether a per­son re­turns to a spe­cific busi­ness or des­ti­na­tion.

An economic im­pact re­port re­leased in De­cem­ber 2013 shows the travel, tourism and hospi­tal­ity in­dus­try is the sixth­largest in­dus­try in the state (ex­clud­ing gov­ern­ment), is di­rectly re­spon­si­ble for nearly 140,000 jobs, gen­er­ates more than $2.1 bil­lion in tax re­ceipts and con­trib­utes $10 bil­lion in rev­enue to In­di­ana busi­nesses, ac­cord­ing to the news re­lease.

| SUP­PLIED PHOTO

Brad Bum­gard­ner

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