March is National Women’s History Month, so we thought this would be the perfect time to honor all of the smart, talented, hard-working women who have helped make the outdoor hospitality industry the success that it is today. We wish we had the space to recognize each one of them individually (that would be one seriously long blog post), but since we don’t, here’s a sampling of the many amazing women who contribute so much to our industry.
First of all, we’d like to recognize Deb Carter, CPO, OHC, owner of Buttonwood Beach RV Resort in Earleville, Md., who in 2019 received ARVC’s highest honor, the Stan Martin Award. This prestigious award recognizes industry leaders for their exceptional involvement, leadership, creativity and dedication to the industry. In addition to her roles as a campground owner and leader of her state association, Deb has worked tirelessly for legislative efforts on behalf of the campground industry and has volunteered countless hours to serve on the boards of many other organizations.
Next, we’d like to recognize the women who lend their expertise by serving on the ARVC Board of Directors: Cyndy Zbierski, ARVC Foundation Chairman and Executive Director of the Northeast Campground Association; Kathy Dyer, Executive Director of the Maine Campground Owners Association; Heather Blankenship, OHM, owner of Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park at Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg, Tenn; Patty Claney, owner of Big Creek RV Park in Annapolis, Md.; Mari Garland, owner of Junction West RV Park in Grand Junction, Colo., Judy LaPorta, CPO, OHC, owner, Little Oaks Campground in Cape May Courthouse, N.J. and Eileen Vaughan, owner of Mountain Vista Campground in East Stroudsburg, Penn.
We’re also proud to shine a light on the many capable women who lead our state associations: Shannon Miller, Executive Director, Alaska Campground Owners Association; Jo Ann Mickelson, CPO, OHC, Arizona ARVC; Dee Witting, CPO, Executive Director, Carolina ARVC; Mary Arlington, CPO, OHC, Colorado Campground & Lodging Owners Association, Kansas Association of RV Parks and Campground and the South Dakota Campground Owners Association; Lisa Thibodaux, Louisiana Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds; Kathy Dyer, Executive Director, Maine Campground Owners Association; Deb Carter, CPO, OHC, Executive Director, Maryland Association of Campgrounds; Marcia Galvin, CPO, OHC, President, Massachusetts Association of Campground Owners; Joann DelVescio, Executive Director, New Jersey Campground Owners Association; Kristy Smith, Executive Director, Ohio Campground Owners Association; Beverly Gruber, President, PA Campground Owners Association; Emily Peck, Executive Director, Virginia Campground Association and Lori Severson, Executive Director, Wisconsin Association of Campground Owners.
The number of young professional women who are moving up the ranks in our industry is also growing. Heather Blankenship represents the interests of all young professionals on the ARVC Board of Directors, and Hannah Piper, OHE, Operations Manager for Evergreen Campsites and Resorts in Wild Rose, Wis. serves as the Social Chair for the ARVC Young Professionals Group.
Deb Carter has a few words of advice for young women entering the industry.
“Before you do anything, learn how to give back. The more I give, the more I receive. Again and again. I personally have found very little discrimination in our industry. Above all, be yourself. Be honest. Don’t apologize for being a woman – ever. It’s a blessing, trust me.”
A big “thank you” goes out to every woman who shares her talents and passion for the industry to make the camping experience the best it can be.