BERNARDS TWP., NJ -  The Somerset County Environmental Education Center (EEC) has been nominated to receive the Tourism Champion Award and Monica Juhasz, a Naturalist at the EEC, has been nominated for an award in the Service Excellence Category. Both are categories in the 5th annual Salute to Tourism Awards sponsored by the Somerset County Business Partnership

The awards honor employees and organizations throughout Somerset County in three categories: Economic Champion, Service Excellence and Tourism Champion. The program pays tribute to front line tourism staff and organizations that set the bar for the Somerset County Tourism industry.

The Environmental Education Center (EEC) at 190 Lord Stirling Road offers approximately 9 miles of hiking trails, Naturalist led programs, school field trips and fun nature themed exhibits. In addition, the facility has facility and classroom rentals, a resource library, science and conservation research, and more. The EED’s goal is to improve environmental literacy in Somerset County and beyond.

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The EEC is one of eight nominees in the Tourism Champion category, described as "an individual or organization that has promoted Somerset County’s attributes and resources to help establish the destination brand and draw more visitors.

Other nominees include:

o   Heritage Trail Association, Bridgewater

o   Jacobus Vanderveer House & Museum, Bedminster

o   Jenna Intersimone, Journalist, USA Today Network

o   Somerset County 4-H Fair, Bridgewater

o   Somerset Patriots, Bridgewater

o  Tapastre Restaurant & Bar, Somerville

o The Tour of Somerville

There are two other categories, Economic Champion and Service Excellence.

The Economic Champion category is for an individual or organization that has made a significant and direct impact on the Somerset County economy through visitor spend, job creation, or increased tax revenues. Nominees are:

o   Flounder Brewing Co., Hillsborough

o   Franklin Day Festival, Franklin

o   Natirar Resort Development LLC, Peapack-Gladstone

The Service Excellence Category is for a Somerset County tourism professional who has demonstrated outstanding customer service at a county tourism asset. Nominees include:

o   Jill Cerchio, Hampton Inn & Suites Bridgewater

o   Fran Frederick, Homewood Suites Bridgewater/Branchburg

o   Lisa Sepulveda, Branchburg Sports Complex, Branchburg

The Salute to Tourism Awards event will be held on Friday, Jan.19 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 The Bernards Inn, 27 Mine Brook Road in Bernardsville. It will include the awards presentation and keynote luncheon with hospitality expert, writer, travel podcaster and consultant, Glenn Haussman. The awards selection committee comprises representatives from fellow New Jersey Destination Marketing Organizations.

Register for the Salute to Tourism online at