Author Archives: Uwe Doeringer

Meet the Team – Intern Stilian

Stilian snow

Hello everyone! My name is Stilian, and I am the new Business Management intern at Dragonfly Expeditions. It has always been my dream to get out of Europe. Unfortunately, I never had the possibility to do so. But finally I made it.

– My destination: America
– More precisely: Miami, Florida

It all started in Kiev, Ukraine in 2012 when some friends and I opened a hostel for backpackers. As always it was a total coincidence that I met this guy from US there. His name was Brian and he enjoyed the time in Kiev and our hostel so much, that he invited me to visit Miami one day, to thank me for the good time.

Maybe it was just a joke he made, but I took him for serious and started to look for an internship in Miami, because I would have to do one anyways, no matter where. I thought Miami would be unbelievable and probably the best and at the same time the craziest thing I would ever do. Continue reading

Share

Meetings + Incentive Travel Magazine features Charles J. Kropke

In August the Canadian Meetings + Incentive Travel Magazine mentioned Dragonfly Expeditions in a Miami feature in its print edition as well as on Meetingscanada.com. This article resulted from a visit by editor Lori Smith in May of 2013. At the request of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau Charles J. Kropke took Lori around the city to immerse her into Miami’s hidden places. Based on the commentary in the article, we think Charles succeeded in convincing the writer that Miami really is more than beach. Continue reading

Share

New DVD Captures the Story of South Beach

South Beach DVDWe are proud to announce that following a successful sell-out of the first edition and the publication of the second edition of his landmark book “South Beach – Stories of a Renaissance”, Charles J. Kropke is now releasing a companion DVD with the same name.  It is tracing South Beach from its earliest pioneer days to today’s high-energy global resort, bringing the remarkable comeback story of this historic district to life.  With historical photos as well as on-location scenes, the DVD “South Beach: Stories of a Renaissance” is being published by Tropic Moon Media and provides a unique look at one of the world’s most popular travel destination.

Continue reading

Share

Meet Our Partner – The Loxahatchee River Historical Society

Jupiter Inlet LighthouseAn important part of Dragonfly Expeditions’ mission and approach to sustainable tourism is the support of local not-for-profit organizations that are instrumental to the preservation of Florida’s ecological, historical and cultural resources.  Most people are not aware that for many of our tours, a percentage of revenue benefits a particular charity thematically related to the tour. From the very beginning of the company, a built-in donation for each sold tour was an integral part of our business practice. It still holds true that there is no such thing as “free;” even if Dragonfly Expeditions as a commercial entity in many cases doesn’t have to pay an entrance fee to visit and see natural areas or historic buildings freely accessible to the public, that doesn’t mean that dedicated people and organizations haven’t committed time and money to preserve those things. Without their effort, there would be nothing for us to show. This post featuring the Loxahatchee River Historical Society begins a series that will highlight the various not-for-profit organizations we support (you can see all our not-for-profit partners listed in the side column of our monthly newsletter).
Continue reading

Share

Thoughts on Developing a Tour – Wandering Through Wynwood: An Artistic Revival

P1010450When Wynwood started to rise as an emerging neighborhood several years ago – well before its current headline-grabbing hipness – we developed a tour that explored some of the area’s remarkable studios and galleries. But the ongoing transformation of this formerly downtrodden collection of industrial warehouses has warranted a new approach of how we like to show and interpret this district. We therefore decided to launch our new tour “Walking Through Wynwood – An Artistic Revival.” Continue reading

Share

Learning to Love the Mud

At the beginning of this year I came across an article in the Miami Herald describing a “Hike to the Big Trees” in the Big Cypress National Preserve.  This ranger-guided trip is offered by the National Park Service only a few times a year, so Charles and I rushed to get a spot on the last available trek in early March.  Neither one of us had been on the southernmost section of the Florida Trail before, where the hike took place. This aspect and the possibility of seeing some of the remaining giant cypress trees that had escaped the logging period of the 1920s to the 1950s were highly intriguing to us. We gathered with 15 fellow hikers at the Oasis Visitor Center and the weather conditions turned to be out ideal for this venture. The sky remained overcast and I didn’t sweat a single drop the entire day – a rare occasion in the Florida wilderness! Contrary to the temperature, the state of the trail was much more challenging. Continue reading

Share

Meet the Team: April Loves to Run!

We are happy to announce that as of November 26th, 2012 April Kuhlman has joined the Dragonfly Expeditions team full-time after completing a six-month internship with our company. Due to her superb writing skills, she had been and continues to be entrusted with the management of our blog and the On the ‘fly newsletter as well as a variety of other tasks. Going forward into the high season, April will be involved in operating our tours and programs in addition to her work concerning guide training, research, tour development and script writing. Continue reading

Share

Green Heron Gifts – Authentic Florida Treasures

Dragonfly Expeditions is always looking for new ways to support the local economy and convey the spirit and beauty of Florida to visitors. These sentiments were the genesis for the launch of our sister company, Green Heron Gifts. Established in 2009, Green Heron Gifts strives to represent the real Florida by offering volume quantities of unique, local products. By ensuring that each item for sale is original and made using a sustainable process, the company limits waste and presents gifts that will be meaningful to both buyer and recipient.

After watching craft industries and local offerings get wiped out by cheap, generic imports, we decided to launch Green Heron Gifts with the philosophy: “Achieving prosperity and sustainability through merchandising products that preserve an authentic sense of place.” All items that the company sells are eco-friendly reflections of Florida’s art, culture, and history. The ideal client is one who has a desire to make a difference in the world through his/her group spending choices.

Continue reading

Share

Strategic Planning Days and Teambuilding

Dragonfly Expeditions and ActionCoach Business Coaching have come together in an exciting joint venture to offer the perfect strategic planning day for small or large companies and organizations or institutions – either locally or from out of town.  Any organization that wants to achieve its goals in 2013 and be best prepared for the opportunities that lie ahead will benefit from a strategic planning day moderated by a certified business coach. Results are being locked in with an engaging teambuilding activity facilitated by Dragonfly Expeditions. If desired, we can even arrange an inspiring and unique meeting location.

Continue reading

Share

Heroic Action by Guide Pamela Jones Morton

We at Dragonfly Expeditions have always held our guides in the highest esteem.  Their lives are full of great  accomplishments. We are proud of the enthusiasm they display for their profession as well as their passion for the causes they support.  But when someone goes above and beyond every day expectations, we feel that it deserves to be brought to the attention of a larger audience.  In December 2011, when I wrote the first blog post about Pamela Jones Morton, I had no idea that this guide would soon evolve from someone I admired into a hero.

Continue reading

Share

Meet the Team – Guide Emerson

Emerson Fales first met the Dragonfly Expeditions team at one of our regular exotic removal and habitat restoration events at Vizcaya in 2008 and started guiding kayaking, biking, walking tours for our company in 2009.  He has called Miami home for practically his entire life, so he felt that Dragonfly Expeditions’ vision and mission were well aligned with his personal love of South Florida.  His interest and enjoyment of natural South Florida began at an early age and has grown over the years.  Emerson’s favorite saying is: “No other city in the country has a front yard like Biscayne Bay and a backyard like the Everglades.”  Thanks to his mother, and despite the chorus of negative comments from the backseat, his family spent many hours canoeing and exploring the Everglades.  He also spent lots of unforgettable days on Biscayne Bay snorkeling, fishing, water skiing, and canoeing.  As a result of all these childhood travels, he accumulated a tremendous amount of knowledge on South Florida ecology and animal life which came in handy when educating visiting friends.

Continue reading

Share

Charles J. Kropke wins Historic Preservation Award

Dragonfly Expeditions is proud to announce that Managing Partner Charles J. Kropke has received the 2012 Historic Preservation Award presented by the Dade Heritage Trust during their annual meeting in the restored Pan American Seaplane Base (today Miami City Hall) on April 27th, 2012.  Charles was honored in the category of outstanding individual for the many aspects of his professional and personal life on behalf of endangered historic treasures and the general awareness of preservation.  Among the efforts mentioned were the work of Dragonfly Expeditions which educates travelers from all over the world about Miami’s architecture and neighborhoods through the art of storytelling. In addition, Charles’ book “South Beach – Stories of a Renaissance” highlights inspiring individuals whose push for historic preservation had a tremendous positive economic impact on the tourism industry of Miami Beach in particular and South Florida in general.

Share

One Time Opportunity for Individuals to join our Tours

This month brings the unique opportunity for locals and visitors alike to participate in some of our tours in the Everglades and Biscayne Bay that are usually reserved for groups only. They are being offered as part of the Sustainatopia event:

Saturday, April 21st, 2012 from 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm:

The Everglades according to the Miccosukee

Skip across the shallow waters and sawgrass prairie to a distant Miccosukee   island as your guide prepares you for a journey of natural wonders and cultural discovery! Watch in wonder as Great Blue Herons, Egrets, Woodstorks and Ibis take to flight as we travel into the true heart of the Florida Everglades. It is here among the sawgrass prairie that remote cypress islands filled with Seminole and Miccosukee history still exist and it is here that our adventure begins . . .

Continue reading

Share

Two Dragonfly Expeditions Tours Featured in Alaska Airlines Magazine

The November 2011 issue of Alaska Airlines Magazine featured Dragonfly Expeditions’ “Tour de Grass” (a bike tour in the Shark Valley area of the Everglades) and our “Half Moon Archaeological Snorkeling Tour”.  Seattle-based author Crai Bower emphasizes the unique opportunity of having both very urban and ecological experiences when staying in Miami. The following is an excerpt highlighting the tours:

To read the entire article, click here

Share

Dragonfly Expeditions’ Featured in German Daily Newspaper

As part of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau’s effort to present Miami as an increasingly eco-friendly destination, Dragonfly Expeditions several times has hosted journalists on our “Great Discoveries on the Bay – A Kayak Journey” to allow a glimpse into the area’s history and ecology in the middle of the city’s urban core. The following excerpt is from the recently published article in the German daily newspaper Hannoversche Allgemeine:

Share

Meet the Team – Pam

Pamela Jones-Morton has been a guide for Dragonfly Expeditions since 2006 and what drew her towards working with us was the prospect of teaching others to experience the world around us in an eco-friendly, yet challenging way.  After growing up in Maryland, she received her undergraduate from Frostburg State College, her MA from Michigan State University and finally her PhD from the Ohio State University. In addition, she holds a Florida Master Naturalist degree from the University of Florida and a Certification for Birding Biology from the Cornell School of Ornithology.  Her initial career as a teacher led her to several positions around the world: Tokyo/Japan (5 years), Wilmington/Delaware (1 year), Düsseldorf/Germany (4 years), Rio de Janeiro/Brazil (3 years), and London/UK (1 year).  After holding an assistant professor position in West Virginia, Pam moved into the corporate world, working for Honda of America Manufacturing, Inc. as a Manager in the Expatriate Administration and the Integrated Human Resources Departments.

Currently residing in Estero, the proximity to the Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve allows her to spend her free time kayaking, hiking, photographing, bird watching and playing with her black lab Margee.  As an activist, she shares these passions by volunteering with Lovers Key State Park as an interpretive guide for beach walks, birding tours, dolphin and manatee talks, as well as wading and photography trips.  In addition, she also volunteers with the Labrador Retriever Rescue of Florida where she oversees the “Senior Dogs for Senior Citizens” program.

Continue reading

Share

University of Miami Family Weekend 2011

For the second straight year, Dragonfly Expeditions partnered with the University of Miami Family Weekend program to provide new students and their families the opportunity to explore Miami and its surroundings on our tours.

The five tours that were offered throughout the weekend featured Miami’s Cuban Heritage, the historic Miami City Cemetery, Kayaking on Biscayne Bay, and two Miccosukee Indian Heritage airboat tours.

The goal of the partnership between the University of Miami and Dragonfly Expeditions is to showcase Miami as a metropolis with historical, ecological and cultural treasures beyond its usual party reputation. Here are some quotes from participants:

“Very interesting information. Loved it!” – Xavier, Cuban Heritage Tour

“Very informative and a beautiful way to see the bay” – Ann, Great Discoveries on the Bay – A Kayak Tour

“Fabulous trip, tour guide was superb. Airboat was so relaxing. Great way to see nature at it’s best!” – Sheila, Miccosukee Indian Heritage Tour

Dragonfly Expeditions would like to send a special thank you to the University of Miami Family Weekend staff (Brian Orefice, Danielle Howard, and Carrie Whiteside) for their amazing work and dedication in ensuring that our partnership was again a success. We are looking forward to Family Weekend 2012.

Share

Meet the Team – Bernardo

The path to Dragonfly Expeditions of everybody on the team has been shaped by their life’s journey.  This is probably true the most for Bernardo Carrillo who was born in Ecuador, but by the time he was 18 had already lived in Los Angeles, Quito, Colorado, Louisiana, Abu Dhabi, Cyprus, France, Switzerland and Boston!  Graduating from Northeastern University in 1992 after double-majoring in Economics and Political Science, he was able to secure his first job at the ITT Sheraton in Boston in a very tough job market.  But within a year, his dream of helping protect the environment while creating a profitable enterprise had him launch the eco-tourism company Eco Voyager together with a business partner.  By the mid-1990s Bernardo chose to take a full time position with Saga Holidays in Boston – temporarily shelving his entrepreneurial pursuits, while his business partner decided to continue the company on his own in Miami for another 3 years. In 1998 Bernardo’s old business partner decided to sell the business, at which point Bernardo re-connected with his old dream, so he bought the company back and also relocated the headquarters back to Boston. After six years of continued growth and expansion with more offices in Latin America, Bernardo moved the company and his family life to Miami in 2004 to be closer to his operations in South America.  Due to its rapid growth, he decided to sell parts of Eco Voyager in 2006 and 2007, but the following recession resulted in him becoming the Managing Director for Maupintour in 2009 (but not before a brief encounter with Dragonfly Expeditions).

Continue reading

Share

Thoughts on Developing a Tour: Key Biscayne – A Journey by Cycle

Within the first years of moving to Miami, I made the effort of exploring many of  the city’s neighborhoods.  But despite its natural beauty the island of Key Biscayne  had never struck me as something particularly interesting.  Driving down the main corridor of Crandon Boulevard I always thought it was rather uninspiring. Boy was I wrong!  One day, my visiting father-in-law and I decided to ride out some of the island’s side streets and paths.  In preparation, I started reading up on its past which uncovered a treasure trove of stories this island holds – stories of its unique connections to as well as  its disconnect from Miami.   For anybody interested, I highly recommend the book “Key Biscayne – A History of Miami’s Tropical Island and the Cape Florida Lighthouse” by Joan Blank.

Continue reading

Share

Revista Balance Features Dragonfly Expeditions’ Everglades Backwater Tour

Dragonfly Expeditions was featured in the  Puerto Rican publication – Revista Balance :

Organiza un fin de semana súper prendido y realiza actividades que quizá nunca hayas hecho. Miami tiene novedades fit y ecológicas que te pueden sorprender. ¿Que tal caminar sobre pantanos en compañía de crocodilos? ¿O recorrer Lincoln Road en bici? Te organizamos una propuesta para que te diviertas al máximo.

 

DIA 1: FITNESS Y RELAX

El nuevo puente en South Beach te invita a pasar todo un día en el disfrute del calor húmedo y sus playas. Puedes caminar, correr o patinar sobre el Cualquiera de las opciones será mejor hacerlas temprano, para evitar el castigo del sol. Si lo tuyo es el yoga, no olvides tu mat para colocarlo debajo de una de las palmeras en los sugerentes jardines. Haz tu práctica de una hora y media y reúnete con tus acompañantes en la entrada de la playa. Ahora si, la tender las toallas y a relajarte.

Puedes terminar el día en un spa con un masaje o un facial. Te recomendamos Palms Spa by Aveda, inspirado en la medicina tradicional india –el ayurveda-, o el Exhale Spa, que ofrece el equilibro perfecto para mente y cuerpo.

Continue reading

Share

Announcing Upcoming Release of New Sea Turtle Tour

 

We are happy to announce the upcoming release of a new tour that uncovers the exciting and challenging world of Florida’s sea turtles.  In the past months there has been an increased interest from our clients in this subject, and since one of our top guides Ann Wiley has been heavily engaged in sea turtle conservation, we asked her to help us develop a tour that allows participants a hands-on experience with these unique sea creatures.  Ann has written several posts (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) on this blog about the topic and has sought out the best places that will allow guests to explore the theme of coastal habitat conservation and sea turtle protection in Palm Beach and Martin counties.  Look for the full release of this new tour in June.

Share

Meet the Team: Intern Pauline

Pauline Le GoasIn keeping with Dragonfly Expeditions’ growing connection to the French market, we would like to welcome our new French intern Pauline Le Goas who will be a part of our team until June 2011! Pauline grew up in Paris; then moved to the Dordogne region in Southwestern France with her family, where her parents own a resort campground. Her studies took Pauline to the university in Bordeaux as well as to Antwerp, Belgium for six months.  In June of 2011 she will be finishing her degree in business specializing in marketing.  For the past couple of years she has helped run her parents’ business and has completed an internship in Singapore. Her professional goal is to participate in the family business and ultimately run it herself.

Pauline is eager to learn more about sustainable tourism in the United States and how the knowledge she has gained Continue reading

Share

Business Coaching and Innovation that Dragonfly Expeditions Endorses

Almost two years ago, Dragonfly Expeditions started working with ActionCOACH as its business coaching firm.  Since the field of business coaching is still a relative unknown for many small and mid-sized businesses, I want to highlight just one of the aspects that helps us differentiate ourselves and grow in our particular field today: ActionCOACH Before the end of every quarter, we take the entire team on a full-day planning session to develop a 90-day plan for the following quarter.  Despite the fact that, including the preparation time, it is a large time investment which sometimes isn’t easy to accomplish with our busy schedules, the planning session pays off many times over because it lets the entire team evaluate if it is on track with the company’s annual and long-term goals.  In addition, it allows us to react to new challenges as well as opportunities and enables us to act consistently with our goals while being flexible enough to be adjusted when needed.

This regular re-evaluation and planning has increasingly helped Continue reading

Share

Meet the Team – Charles J. Kropke

Since this is a somewhat futile attempt to describe Charles J. Kropke in a single article, I want to make clear that the following lines are a very subjective view into Charles’ life – one that he has allowed me during the years that we have been working together as business partners.

Charles’ family roots lie in the hard-working crabbing community of Chesapeake Beach in Maryland.  The town was home to a resort from the Victorian era, so Charles’ early years were influenced by the many days he roamed the surrounding wooded hills in search of antique bottles, by the crab houses along the tidal creek and the original Ferris-wheel in the old amusement park, but also by the many abandoned vacation homes in the nearby town of Randles’ Cliff whose varied contents would hold young Charles’ fascination.  His family moved to the West coast of Florida when he was at the tender age of 11.  But growing up to become thoroughly Floridian Continue reading

Share

Dragonfly Expeditions and NomadsLand Produce Mini-documentary for ATTA World Summit

ATTA-LogoThe Labor Day weekend of 2010 brought an exciting opportunity to Dragonfly Expeditions: Our company was selected by  NomadsLand among several contestants to have a professionally produced video shot and edited to be presented at the ATTA World Summit in Scotland in October of 2010.  Davin Hutchins from  traveled to South Florida to capture the sights and sounds that exemplify Dragonfly Expeditions’ journeys and philosophy.  Nomadsland has a unique approach to filmmaking which became very apparent to us when we saw several examples of their work. Their goal is to curate, create and distribute visual media that raises awareness and support of businesses, foundations and NGOs seeking to reshape our planet for a better future by telling inspirational stories of the greening of business, responsible tourism, sustainable global development and the advent of social capitalism.  The goal of the 3-day shoot with Dragonfly Expeditions was not to come up with a mere “clip”, but rather an actual short film or “micro-documentary” NomadsLandwhich would explore in-depth what the values are that make Dragonfly Expeditions stand out and that drive the relationships our company entertains with its clients, staff, vendors and friends.

On the first day, Charles and Uwe picked up Davin and immersed him deep into the Everglades, first through an interview with Clyde Butcher and then by taking Davin on a wet hike deep in the Fakahatchee. We were joined by Continue reading

Share

Over 100 Travel Writers and Professionals Hosted on FAM Tours between May and July

Air France

Between May and July of 2010, Dragonfly Expeditions hosted a total of seven familiarization trips in and around Miami.  Three of them were held in conjunction with airlines that have added flights to Miami International Airport: May 22nd (Aireuropa with fifteen guests), June 4th (Air France with seven guests) and June 19th (Corsairfly with forty-five guests).  We are confident that the unique journeys we provided are increasing interest in the destination South Florida Continue reading

Share

Beyond the Beach Olympics: Teambuilding Redefined

Among the many changes in the corporate meetings market, one of the most significant has been the greater emphasis of both planners and clients on the ROI of dollars spent on meetings. Despite the fact that many meetings are being held in outdoors-oriented South Florida, the still lingering “AIG effect” in many cases “locks” groups into conference rooms with back-to-back sessions, barely allowing participants a glimpse of the outside world during business hours.

Historic South Beach Scavenger HuntThe notable exceptions seem to be activities that can be classified as teambuilding, to eliminate any appearance of corporate get-togethers as junkets.  Dragonfly Expeditions is reacting to the increased demand for these kinds of activities.  The most commonly sold option this season has been our successful Historic South Beach Scavenger Hunt.  This hunt can be done for groups Continue reading

Share

The economy is rebounding – is your team ready?

Miami Seaplane BaseLet’s face it; the recession has been tough on most of us.  It may have even pushed a few of us to our limits.  Now that there are some signs of recovery, we need to do some corporate “team alignment” so that we are best prepared for the opportunities that lie ahead.  Three award-winning local companies, Intriguing Places, ActionCOACH Business Coaching and Dragonfly Expeditions have come together in an exciting joint venture to offer the perfect strategic planning day for your business.

This perfect day encompasses: Continue reading

Share

Thoughts on Developing a Tour: Coral Gables – Walking My Neighborhood

Biltmore Hotel It was the great idea of Dr. Jane Petrick – a friend of and guide for Dragonfly Expeditions – to come up with a walking tour surrounding the area of the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables on an intimate scale. The name of this tour “Walking My Neighborhood” rings true for me on a dual level: For one, our office is located in the Biltmore and I would never want to miss seeing famous and not-so-famous people visiting the hotel on a daily basis as well as the calming serenity of its lit-up tower and pool.  Continue reading

Share