BUSINESS

15 graduate from Destin Chamber’s Community Education & Leadership Program

Special to the Destin Log / USA TODAY NETWORK

DESTIN — On May 3, the Destin Chamber celebrated the graduation of 15 business professionals from its 14th Destin Forward class. During the event, the prestigious Destin Forward Leadership Award, chosen by class vote, was presented to Jenna Kilpatrick of the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance.

Destin Forward Class of 2022 members celebrate the completion of their class project. They raised funds for and provided volunteer labor to construct Destin High School's new pollinator garden with native plants and beehives. The school is now officially certified as a Schoolyard Habitat with the Okaloosa Community Wildlife Habitat Project. The class also donated the money for a science teacher to become a certified beekeeper before bees are introduced to the hives this summer.

Destin Forward, a community education and leadership program, was created to help find and educate future city and business leaders.  After a retreat in August, the class spent the next eight months touring and learning about Destin’s waterways, tourism industry, arts and culture, nonprofits, environment, city programs and services, economic development, and military.

With the graduation of this class, the total number of program alumni is now 215.

Jenna Kilpatrick (right) of the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance accepts the Destin Forward Leadership Award from 2022 Chamber Chairman Jennifer Gutai Comella, Hand Arendall Harrison Sale LLC. The award was chosen by class vote.

Class requirements also include attendance at several chamber and civic functions, as well as a group project that creates a lasting impact on the city of Destin. For their project, class members raised funds for and provided volunteer labor to construct Destin High School's new pollinator garden with native plants and beehives. The school is now officially certified as a Schoolyard Habitat with the Okaloosa Community Wildlife Habitat Project. The class also donated the money for a science teacher to become a certified beekeeper before bees are introduced to the hives this summer.

Graduates of the Destin Forward Class of 2022 include Wayne Bernheisel, Gulf Coast Shutter; Nick Bowyer, Stepping Stones Early Learning Academy; Destin City Councilor Teresa Hebert, Exact Sciences; Bryce Hines, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Emerald Coast; Kelly Jasen, United Way Emerald Coast; Jenna Kilpatrick, Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance; Bill Mason, Rocket Fuel Coach; Kimberley Mergler, Marler Harbor Properties Inc.; Sally Mevers, Acentria Insurance; Kim Mooso, Destin Water Users; Allen Newton, Destin United Methodist Church; Ryan Reed, City of Destin; Nichole Rivera, City of Destin; Chas Skinner, Lucy Buffet's LuLu's Destin; and Rachel Spencer, Emerald Coast Title Company.

Four class members, chosen by class vote, will join the Destin Forward Advisory Board for a three-year term, where they will help steer the program for future classes. Those chosen include Bernheisel, Kilpatrick, Mason and Mevers.

Applications are now available for the Destin Forward Class of 2023. For more information about the program, call 850-837-6241 or email mail@DestinChamber.com.