We have all heard of the saying “time flies when you’re having fun.” It’s hard to believe the IAAPA Expo this November will mark 20 years since I started my IAAPA journey—a journey that started as an IAAPA Show Ambassador.
My name is Gina Claassen. Today, I’m the Corporate Safety Director for Herschend Family Entertainment. I have spent my entire career working in some capacity for Herschend Family Entertainment. My first job was as an attraction attendant at Silver Dollar City, where I got to engage in water fights with guests. I loved that job because I got paid to have fun.
In 2001, I was working my third season for Silver Dollar City, while finishing up my degree at Missouri State University, when I learned about an opportunity to spend a week in Orlando and volunteer at IAAPA Expo. At the time, I knew very little about IAAPA or the global attractions industry. But who wouldn’t want to pass up an opportunity to go to Orlando for a week in November?
That one week turned out to be a very pivotal week in my career. I had a front row seat, or better yet, an all-access pass to see and learn about the different facets of our industry. Many facets that I did not even know existed.
I was fortunate to be an Ambassador for several more years, including spending time leading the program. Being an Ambassador introduced me to opportunities for continued industry involvement— involvement such as serving on IAAPA committees and sharing my knowledge through training and teaching opportunities around the globe. Along the way, I have met lifelong friends and colleagues who are my industry family.
My time as an Ambassador was a valuable experience with countless learning opportunities. That initial week in Orlando opened doors for other industry opportunities that have allowed me to continue to learn, grow, and give back to an industry that has given so much to me.
- Ready to advance your career in the global attractions industry? Learn more about the IAAPA Show Ambassador program here.