2020 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.

An individual from each of the four tourism regions is honored annually. The recipients are selected by each region's board of directors.

Presented to
Lindsey Myers

Photo of Governor Noem, Lindsey Myers and Secretary Hagen
Governor Kristi Noem and Secretary Jim Hagen present a
2020 Ruth Ziolkowski Award to Lindsey Myers of Visit Rapid City
at the 2020 Governor's Conference on Tourism.

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

Lindsey Myers is from the Black Hills & Badlands Tourism region. Lindsey has demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to serving the entire Black Hills region during her ten years with Visit Rapid City.

Lindsey takes it upon herself to provide exceptional support and service to everyone she works with, building relationships, making others feel welcome and providing helpful information.

She exhibits the skills, knowledge, willingness to help others and passion for the industry all of us should strive for.

And Lindsey has a way of making everyone she talks to feel like they are her highest priority.

And,

Presented to
Ryan Friez

Photo of Governor Noem, Al Novstrup and Secretary Hagen
Governor Kristi Noem and Secretary Jim Hagen present a
2020 Ruth Ziolkowski Award to Ryan Friez of Thunder Road, Sioux Falls, 
at the 2021 Governor's Conference on Tourism
(accepted by his uncle, Sen. Al Novstrup).

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

Ryan Friez is from the Southeast South Dakota Tourism region. Ryan was chosen based upon his innovative and creative approaches to delivering the best hospitality possible for the tourism industry and our visitors.

Ryan diligently worked through the many hurdles involved in realizing the dream of an enormous family fun park expansion.

In the midst of the pandemic, he opened a six million dollar, 29,000-square-foot indoor facility last August, allowing the venue to stay open all year-round. It features several bowling options, a two-story laser tag arena, more than 40 arcade games, a 7-D Theatre complete with motion chairs, axe-throwing, bumper cars, and two new restaurant concepts.

And,

Presented to
Debra Knodel

Photo of Governor Noem, Debra Knodel and Secretary Hagen
Governor Kristi Noem and Secretary Jim Hagen present a
2020 Ruth Ziolkowski Award to Debra Knodel of the
Governor's Inn, Pierre, at the 2020 Governor's Conference on Tourism.

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

Debra Knodel is from the South Dakota Missouri River Tourism region. Debra has worked at the front desk at the Governor’s Inn in Pierre for the past 30 years. She has been an outstanding team member and always has a smile for guests. She knows many of the guests by names, has met so many of their families and always takes an interest in what’s happening in their lives.

Debra is very knowledgeable about the Pierre/Fort Pierre area and the entire state of South Dakota. She has the ability to answer nearly every question – always making it her goal to know what’s going on. Her enthusiasm and easy-going manner give visitors confidence in what’s she’s telling them.

She has earned this award due to her outstanding hospitality, customer service and dedication to her workplace.

And,

Presented to
Lora Schaunaman

Photo of Governor Noem, Lora Schaunaman and Secretary Hagen
Governor Kristi Noem and Secretary Jim Hagen present a 2020
Ruth Ziolkowski Award to Lora Schaunaman of the Dacotah Prairie Museum,
Aberdeen, at the 2021 Governor's Conference on Tourism.

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

Lora Schaunaman is from the Glacial Lakes & Prairies Tourism region. Lora is the very definition of South Dakota hospitality. At the Dacotah Prairie Museum in Aberdeen, she has been the Curator of Exhibits for 20 years; and she has always been the best ambassador for the institution.

Whether she is greeting guests at the front desk, giving tours to school groups and adults, presenting workshops - at the Museum or offsite - for women’s groups, homeschoolers and community events, or working with artists and contributors on exhibits, she always exemplifies the spirit of hospitality.

In 2020, the museum was closed to the public for nearly four months, but she immediately switched gears from in-person interactions to virtual tours of exhibits, producing YouTube videos of historic figures in Brown County, creating and handing out 900 summer art kits for area families, and designing window displays for downtown visitors.

She never stopped reaching out to the community with grace and good cheer, the very definition of South Dakota hospitality.