By: Emily McMaster, Communications Director of NH Granite State Ambassadors
In 1996, Granite State Ambassadors started as a committee underneath the Southern NH Convention and Visitors Bureau. NHGSA evolved into its own 501(c)3 nonprofit in 1999, under the guidance of its three co-founders: Judi Window, Executive Director of the Southern NH Convention and Visitors Bureau at the time; Peter Morgan, proprietor of the then-Highlander Inn near the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport; and Bill Petersen, Dean of Hospitality at the formerly known NH College (now Southern NH University). The founders prioritized education from Day One, establishing a certification program that intrigued volunteers immediately and is still paramount to the organization today.
The GSA Certification program is the stepping stone to becoming a certified Granite State Ambassador volunteer. This course provides an incredible overview of NH, through 25+ presentations from a variety of tourism organizations and attractions. The training modules include Outdoor Recreation, Attractions and Heritage, NH Tourism, NH History, NH’s Tourism Regions, Business, Industry, and Education, and information on serving as a GSA volunteer. Not only does the training increase your knowledge of the state, but it also facilitates meeting new people from a variety of backgrounds who are interested in serving the state of NH. The organization has certified over 1,940 industry friends and volunteers. Approximately 350 volunteers are actively volunteering at any time at state welcome centers, chambers of commerce, museums, and events.
With the support of its key partners, the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport and the NH Division of Travel and Tourism, NHGSA serves as a conduit between partners in the tourism and hospitality industries, as well as state and federal agencies and organizations. Granite State Ambassador volunteers can also be seen staffing various events throughout the state. NHGSA initially expanded its scope to include the Made in NH Expo, followed by the Farm & Forest Expo. Over time, the organization’s event services have grown to encompass more than 20 events, including the Great American Ribfest and The NH Information Booth at the Big E in West Springfield, MA. Events enable volunteers to have fun, learn, passionately promote NH, and serve their community.
Another integral component of education within the organization is monthly tours, which help increase volunteers’ knowledge of the state and provide high quality word-of-mouth referrals to guests of NH. These tours take place in every region of the state – at attractions, museums, outdoor activity locations, businesses and more.
Granite State Ambassador volunteers (GSAs) are proud to be a part of this program. GSAs feel that “our presence provides a warm welcome to visitors and residents alike.” A GSA shares that “GSAs are instrumental in promoting the many attractions in our beautiful state. I even find myself talking to people about NH when we travel to other states.”
Another GSA feels that “Being a GSA has made me more aware of the advantages our state offers. We may be a small state but we welcome people from all over the world. We have a great history, beautiful mountain ranges, good colleges, friendly people, strong values and some of the best vistas in the area.”
Thinking about joining our organization? Hear what another GSA has to say…“I have learned so much about New Hampshire since joining GSA. I can’t believe all the things I didn’t know…I have started doing more travel around the state and thanks to GSA my eyes have been opened to many things and places I have never paid attention to. Many I have never even seen. I appreciate the state so much more now.”
If you’re interested in participating in the GSA Certification Training Program, please visit: https://nhgranitestateambassadors.org/become-a-gsa-volunteer. We hope to see you at the training!