I have over 22 years experience in immersive, responsible tourism that includes both academic and practical experience on an international scale. My Bachelor’s is in Environmental Studies and includes an intensive year abroad studying in coastal zone management in Australia. I spent the year immersing myself in the culture and and the unique environment in the land Down Under. I learned to SCUBA dive and surf during my time down there, and consequentially developed a love for the ocean. I spent several months after my studies traveling around New Zealand and Fiji where I surfed, skydived, bungy jumped, and hiked my way through the country sides of both – often meeting (and staying with) locals.
After college I moved to the tourist haven, Daytona Beach where I worked for year one of the largest resort chains in the city. I later moved to Jacksonville and spent five years as an environmental consultant serving many large, multinational corporations. While obtaining my M.S. in Environmental Education, I served as high school science teacher in Jacksonville. When I graduated, I joined the Peace Corps and was sent to Mexico where I provided ecotourism consulting and training to employees of the Mexican national park service as well as private tour companies and community stakeholders in and around the parks.
After three years in Mexico, I returned to Jacksonville and worked with the Florida Park Service providing similar liaison and training services to park rangers and concessionaires operating public programs in the parks. In 2012, I was offered the opportunity to join the startup team of an international nonprofit organization establishing operations in Jacksonville. The organization leverages a one-of-a-kind public-private partnership in which the AmeriCorps public service organization, government agencies, and private business partner to implement a strategic, comprehensive, community-level action plan.
For the past five years I have been running a successful travel agency. I purchased the agency as it was going under and within the first year it was generating positive cash flow again. By the end of my 4th year I was ranked within the top third of all franchises in my network for annual sales. After five years, however, we severed ties with the franchise network and made the agency completely independent.