2022 Awards of Distinction Finalist Spotlight: Accessible Hospitality
Date Published: September 9, 2022
Congratulations to the Accessible Hospitality Award of Distinction Finalists!
Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library & Museum, Hyde Park
Stony Kill Foundation & New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Wappingers Falls
Walkway Over the Hudson & New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation, Poughkeepsie
The Accessible Hospitality Finalists Award of Distinction recognizes businesses and organizations that provide phenomenal and innovative offerings to visitors and contribute to a “Storied Experience” for travelers coming to Dutchess. Join Dutchess Tourism in celebrating all the honorees at the 9th annual Dutchess Tourism Awards of Distinction breakfast at The Henry A. Wallace Center at the FDR Presidential Library and Home in Hyde Park, NY. Read more about the event here.
Learn more about each finalist from Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum Education Specialist Jeffrey Urbin, NYS Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation/Walkway over the Hudson Park Manager Eric Hoppe and Ann Harrison, Chief of Bureau of Environmental Education, Division of Operations at NYS Department of Environmental Conservation.
What about your business/organization inspires you?
Jeffrey Urbin, FDR Presidential Library and Museum: Franklin Roosevelt was the 32nd president of the United States and he led the nation out of the Great Depression and the world to victory over Hitler and the Axis Powers in World War II. FDR was born right here in Dutchess County and he always considered it to be his home. He created the nation's first Presidential Library - the only one used by a president while they were actually president - right here in Dutchess County. The Library contains more than 17 million pages of documents, 50,000 books and 35,000 museum objects relating to the Roosevelt Era. It is known around the world as the preeminent center for research and learning about the Roosevelt era, which includes the papers of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt as well. Each year hundreds of thousands of people from across the country and around the world visit the Library and Museum.
President Roosevelt contracted polio in August 1921 at the age of 39 while vacationing with his family in Canada. At first, his entire body was impacted and he was so weak he could barely lift a pen to sign his name. Eventually, the disease settled in his legs and he was never able to stand or walk unassisted again. He is the only person in American history to be elected to such a high office with such a severe disability and he refused to let it prevent him from doing the work the American people expected from their President.
Eric Hoppe, NYS Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation (Walkway over the Hudson): Being able to create an environment for the public to feel safe, exercise, reflect and view nature to experience the uniqueness only accessible from the Walkway over the Hudson.
Ann Harrison, NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation (Stony Kill Foundation): NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) employees are dedicated to encouraging environmental literacy, stewardship of natural resources, and environmental quality for today’s citizens and generations to come. There is a growing emphasis on creating facilities and programs that welcome a wide variety of users to ensure that DEC lands are open for all. The collaboration with Stony Kill Foundation is an excellent example of a successful private/public venture that benefits local community members.
What makes your destination/organization unique?
Jeffrey Urbin, FDR Presidential Library and Museum: The Roosevelt Library is an accessible destination. The visitor center is all one level and the orientation film is closed captioned, and audio description available upon request. The Library building has closed-caption exhibits for the hearing impaired, elevators and resting benches for folks with mobility concerns and some tactile objects for the visually impaired. Each quarter special hours are arranged for visitors who are sensory sensitive -- exhibit lights and audio are dimmed and stim kits and a safe room with a private bathroom are available for families visiting with a member on the spectrum who might need a little quiet space to regroup. Audio description guides (AD) of the museum exhibits are also available for visitors who are blind or have low vision.
In 2020 the Library received an award from the Dutchess County Executive's Workforce Investment Board and the Think Jobs Committee for our commitment to "Think DIFFERENTLY" and embracing the values of inclusion through education.
Eric Hoppe, NYS Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation (Walkway over the Hudson): The views are amazing from the repurposed historic railroad bridge transformed to create the Walkway over the Hudson between Ducthess and Ulster County. Allowing accessibility for patrons with a 212-foot elevator and an eclectic tram for transport across the 1.28 span.
Ann Harrison, NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation (Stony Kill Foundation): Stony Kill Farm Environmental Education Center is the only working farm in DEC's system. This allows Stony Kill Foundation to continue the tradition of small-scale agriculture at the historic farm and provide educational programming for all ages to connect with experiences in environmental conservation and local food. Visitors of all abilities have an opportunity to enjoy the trails, visit the barn, and experience programs and community gardening in a welcoming setting. The Woodland Trail is a prime example of showcasing a variety of habitats and species along a trail that was designed following NYS accessibility guidelines.
What are your hopes for the future of travel in Dutchess County?
Jeffrey Urbin, FDR Presidential Library and Museum: The Library believes that Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt stand as excellent role models for facing and overcoming adversity and as we continue to explore the lives and lessons of these two great Dutchess County residents with all the world. The Library is currently reaching out to like-minded institutions on issues of accessibility, and, for example, working with the Friends of the Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, D.C. to develop disability programs and activities for the Roosevelt Memorial in our nation's capital.
Eric Hoppe, NYS Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation (Walkway over the Hudson): Continuing the work allowing access to our great outdoors and historic destinations so treasured in the HudsonValley.
Ann Harrison, NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation (Stony Kill Foundation): Dutchess County has a wealth of outdoor destinations to experience and enjoy. I hope that visitors to the area continue to embrace these treasured outdoor spaces and help preserve the environment for future generations. The collaboration between DEC and Stony Kill Foundation is a successful model of the State and a non-profit working together to inspire and introduce new audiences to explore nature in a safe and tranquil environment.
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