2019 Ruth Ziolkowski Awards

The Ruth Ziolkowski Outstanding Hospitality & Customer Service Award recognizes members of the tourism industry who, like Ruth Ziolkowski, have demonstrated remarkable service to every visitor they encounter, and whose work demonstrates an outstanding spirit of hospitality, warmth and genuine kindness.

Again in 2019, we honored an individual from each of the four tourism regions. The winners were selected by each of the regions’ board of directors.

Presented to
Dan Miller

Photo of Secretary Jim Hagen, Jadwiga Ziolkowski, Dan Miller and Governor Kristi Noem
Secretary Jim Hagen, Jadwiga Ziolkowski and Governor Kristi Noem
present a 2019 Ruth Ziolkowski Award to
Dan Miller of Bramble Park Zoo, Watertown
at the 2020 Governor's Conference on Tourism.

downloadable, hi-res version of this photo (300 dpi)

Dan Miller is from the Glacial Lakes & Prairies Tourism region. He has dedicated more than thirty years towards the success of the Bramble Park Zoo in Watertown.

Dan has always been a positive and passionate promoter of the Zoo, the Watertown Community and the Glacial Lakes & Prairies Tourism region.

Anyone who comes in contact with Dan at the Zoo leaves with a better knowledge and appreciation of the animals there. His smile and genuine love of the Zoo is shared with everyone he meets every day.

And,

Presented to
Shirley Wetz

Photo of Secretary Jim Hagen, Jadwiga Ziolkowski, Shirley Wetz and Governor Kristi Noem
Secretary Jim Hagen, Jadwiga Ziolkowski and Governor Kristi Noem
present a 2019 Ruth Ziolkowski Award to
Shirley Wetz of the Sturgis Buffalo Chip
at the 2020 Governor's Conference on Tourism.

downloadable, hi-res version of this photo (300 dpi)

Shirley Wetz is from the Black Hills and Badlands Tourism region.

For more than a decade, Shirley has been the voice or face most Buffalo Chip guests' first encounter when planning their Black Hills motorcycle vacation. As the customer service representative taking calls and greeting guests at the Buffalo Chip’s front desk, she answers thousands of questions each year, ranging from the utilitarian - “What should I pack?” to the bizarre - “Where can I kennel my pet raccoon?”

Shirley's warm voice and upbeat attitude makes everyone feel comfortable and welcome, whether they’ve been to the Black Hills dozens of times or are first-time rally goers. She is happy to take all the time necessary to orient prospective travelers and look for ways to help them get the most out of their stay.

In addition to being a remarkable link between the Buffalo Chip and its guests leading up to the rally, Shirley is often the frontline for those in need of help during the hectic heat of the rally. This means tracking down package deliveries, giving directions, returning lost objects and sometimes even locating lost people.

Her small gestures make a BIG IMPACT.

And,

Presented to
Kathi Anderson

Photo of Secretary Jim Hagen, Jadwiga Ziolkowski, Kathi Anderson and Governor Kristi Noem
Secretary Jim Hagen, Jadwiga Ziolkowski and Governor Kristi Noem
present a 2019 Ruth Ziolkowski Award to Kathi Anderson
of Arrowwood Resort & Conference Center at Cedar Shore, Oacoma
at the 2020 Governor's Conference on Tourism.

downloadable, hi-res version of this photo (300 dpi)

Kathi Anderson is from the South Dakota Tourism Missouri River Tourism region. Kathi has been employed at Cedar Shore Resort for twenty years. She works with a wide variety of people day in and day out. She’s quick to greet everyone she sees with a smile and a pleasant hello, and is known for remembering the names of guests from as far back as ten years ago.

Kathi makes gift bags with unique items for meeting planners and sees that those get to their rooms in a timely fashion. She decorates the resort during the holidays, leads the kids’ activities on the 4th of July, makes pancakes for the campground guests “just because she wants to” and helps out in any department of the resort when needed, including the restaurant.

And if a group has requested a theme for their meeting or dinner, she’s quick to dress the part and decorate to impress the group.

And,

Presented to
Kasi Haberman

Photo of Secretary Jim Hagen, Jadwiga Ziolkowski, Kasi Haberman and Governor Kristi Noem
Secretary Jim Hagen, Jadwiga Ziolkowski and Governor Kristi Noem
present a 2019 Ruth Ziolkowski Award to Kasi Haberman
of the Yankton Convention & Visitors Bureau
at the 2020 Governor's Conference on Tourism.

downloadable, hi-res version of this photo (300 dpi)

Kasi Haberman is from the Southeast South Dakota Tourism region. Kasi is just beginning her career in tourism, but already qualifies as being “outstanding” by eating, sleeping and probably dreaming how to invent new ways to market her employer and the Southeast.

In 2019, Yankton was one of nine applicants for the Southeast South Dakota Matching Grant Award program, one of six awardees and only one of three who received full funding for her latest brainchild, the “Cast and Blast” promotion designed to highlight Yankton’s benefits as a pheasant hunting center.

Kasi directs the CVB of Yankton, South Dakota, a river town made famous by Lewis & Clark. And just like those iconic explorers, she isn’t afraid of the unknown, and always searches for new ways to share her destination’s message.