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    2023 Our Softer Footprint Awards

Congratulations and thank you to the recipients of our 7th annual Our Softer Footprint sustainability awards!

Each year, Xanterra Travel Collection® recognizes employees for their exceptional commitment to our sustainability efforts. These individuals are nominated by their peers for going above and beyond their assigned duties, making a tremendous impact in our parks and for our environment.

2023 Our Softer Footprint Awards

This year we had three winners from Yellowstone National Park, all for work related to waste reduction and recycling:

2023 Our Softer Footprint Awards 1

PHIL WOJTOWICZ, the Lead Recycler in the Lake Area, won the Outstanding Leadership category for consistently going above and beyond his assigned duties.“

Phil has been the face of recycling in the Lake Area of Yellowstone National Park for many summers now.  He also helps out with training recyclers in other areas of the park…. and has had meetings with departments to help them succeed in giving him as much recyclable material as possible… Even on Phil’s time off he is preaching the gospel of recycling… We are all very lucky…Phil’s passion is actually making a difference for the planet!”

2023 Our Softer Footprint Awards 2

JENNIFER REEVES, the Support Services Manager, co-won the Waste Reduction category for glass recycling and other waste diversion projects.

“Jennifer is a champion of Yellowstone’s sustainability efforts. Jennifer has continually ensured that her department considers the environmental impact of every aspect of the operation… She does it because it is the right thing to do.”

2023 Our Softer Footprint Awards 7Bobby is pictured with Chelsea Alvarado, Maintenance Staff Assistant at Old Faithful Inn

ROBERT SHOOK, former Lead Painter and current Old Faithful Pub Bartender, co-won the Waste Reduction category for initiating litter collection.

“Bobby… and his team spend an hour every Wednesday going around to pick up trash… Bobby is someone who truly cares about the park…”

2023 Our Softer Footprint Awards 4Pictured, from left to right, are several employees involved in the certification including Daniel Woods, Aaron Faith, Ray Samlow, Brian Pekah, Brian Von Eggers, and Kevin Dugan.

We also had two winners from the Grand Canyon, South Rim, both nominated due to their involvement in improving the sustainability of the Arizona Steakhouse so that it could become a 4-star Certified Green Restaurant™.

AARON FAITH, Assistant Director of Engineering, won the Operational Efficiency category.

“Aaron’s role demonstrates the importance of the Engineering department in furthering sustainable efforts. Many sustainability initiatives within the park would not be at all possible without them.”

Upon acceptance of his award, Aaron stated, “It is an honor to receive the 2023 Softer Footprint Award for Operational Efficiency on behalf of the Xanterra’s South Rim maintenance team. The fifty staff who comprise the team go above and beyond every day to ensure operations are never impacted while at the same time advancing Xanterra’s major sustainability goals of reducing water use and energy consumption. Whether it is plumbers installing low-flow fixtures, auto mechanics recycling used oil and filters, HVAC technicians cleaning condensers and converting to more sustainable refrigerants, laundry technicians prolonging the life expectancy of appliances, carpenters sealing building envelopes, maintenance support staff designing robust preventive maintenance schedules and procuring green products, projects office personnel ensuring contractor compliance with Xanterra’s goals, general maintenance crew members installing LED fixtures and changing filters, painters using low or no-VOC paints, groundskeepers mitigating stormwater runoff, locksmiths recycling and rebuilding lock components, historic preservation crew members protecting existing buildings rather than rebuilding them, boiler technicians optimizing boiler chemistry and pressures, or electricians converting to motion-activated switches and repairing aging kitchen equipment, the entire team strives daily to make a positive step forward. These individuals truly improve operational efficiency and are richly deserving of this award.”

RAY SAMLOW, Bright Angel Restaurant Manager, won the Educational Outreach category.

“Ray went above and beyond his duties by having frequent meetings regarding environmental efforts within Bright Angel, setting aside donations from the restaurant to be given a new life, helping to plan environmental staff trainings, hanging educational material for all to see on employee bulletins, and encouraging his staff to pursue their own green nametags… Ray has helped prove that even in the most chaotic times of year, it’s possible to provide great service to guests while also making ample time for sustainable efforts.”

“I am honored to contribute to a softer footprint for the canyon. Stewardship of our planet is an everyday task.” Ray affirmed.

The 2023 winners of Xanterra Travel Collection®’s Our Softer Footprint award received certificates of recognition and $100 gift cards! Other worthy nominees included: LEVI STRONG and EMMANUEL RODRIGUEZ.

2023 Our Softer Footprint Awards 5Pictured from left to right is Jeff D’Arpa, General Manager of Grand Canyon Railway & Hotel, and Levi Strong, Training Coordinator at Grand Canyon Railway & Hotel.

2023 Our Softer Footprint Awards 10Emmanuel Rodriquez, Assistant Buyer at Xanterra Travel Collection®