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Ecotourism Summit to promote businesses, environment

Joy Saddler

FSU Panama City is excited to team up with Explore Northwest Florida to host the Northwest Florida Ecotourism Summit from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 25, at FSU Panama City’s Holley Academic Center.

According to the United Nations Travel Organization, ecotourism is the fastest growing segment within the travel industry. This summit will bring in industry leaders, educators, students, potential new businesses and eco-friendly enthusiasts to Panama City to enhance our ecotourism communities in the Florida Panhandle.

Through breakout sessions and keynote lecture by Visit Florida CEO Dana Young, the summit aims to promote best business practices to promote a sustainable and environmentally friendly ecotourism industry in Northwest Florida.

As Visit Florida’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Dana Young leads Florida’s official destination marketing organization in partnership with its Board of Directors and the statewide tourism industry. She served in the Florida House from 2010 through 2016, rising to Majority Leader for the 2015 and 2016 legislative sessions. In 2016, she was elected to the Florida Senate, where she represented parts of western Hillsborough County for two years.

Other speakers include:

  • Chuck Hatcher, Assistant Director of Recreation & Parks, DEP Brett Cyphers,
  • Executive Director, NWF Water Management District
  • Dr. Glen Aiken, Director, NF Research & Education Center,
  • UF IFAS Dan Rowe, Director & CEO, Visit Panama City Beach
  • Kristy Terry, Executive Director, North Florida Inland Long-Term Recovery Group
  • Anne Glick, Wildlife Viewing Program Administrator, FWC
  • Dr. Sandra Halvorson, FSU PC - Communications
  • Brian Baber, MS FSU PC - Entrepreneurship
  • Ray Windham, Lilypad Adventures
  • Michael O’Brian Garcia, Florida Olive Grower Association
  • Nick Phoenix, Coldwater Gardens (Aquaponics & Events)
  • Shawn Brown, Visit Panama City & Outdoor Gulf Coast
  • Scott Jackson, UF - IFAS (Master Naturalist)
  • Chef Paul Ashman, GCSC Culinary Program & Sea Screamer
  • Dr. Michael Wallace, FSU  PC - Communication
  • Tracee Watkins, MBA - FSU PC – Hospitality & Tourism
  • Joy Saddler, MS, CHE - FSU PC – RTE, Hospitality & Tourism

Registration is $20 for professionals and $10 for students. Register at

For more information, contact Joy Saddler at or 850-420-9439, or Betty Webb at 850-323-0567.