Ken and Wilda Hopper’s hard work, dedication to their community, and love of the outdoors has led to a healthier and more active community in Sault Ste. Marie and honors at the 2024 Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism.

The annual tourism conference brings members from across the state’s hospitality industry together for a week of brainstorming and networking. It also recognizes contributions individuals and groups make throughout the state to make Michigan a more desirable travel location. This year’s event was held in Kalamazoo where the Hoppers were honored on Wednesday evening for their Story of Inspiration.

The Hoppers were selected among nominees from across the state. Their trailblazing approach to energize a budding outdoor scene in Sault Ste. Marie along with their personal triumphs struck a chord with the event organizers. The pair have worked diligently over the years to create businesses such as Bird’s Eye Outfitters and Bird’s Eye Adventures all while raising six children. These businesses have helped enrich the Sault Ste. Marie community by creating and promoting non-motorized outdoor trails.

On top of encouraging tourists to visit Sault Ste. Marie, the Hoppers have helped form clubs and organizations such as O.U.T. House Consortium. These groups have created awareness for locals to use the outdoor trail system and to inspire them to help develop these trails. Along with countless volunteers and a dedicated staff, the Hoppers have created trails for all seasons across land and water.

The prestigious Story of Inspiration recognition at the Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference highlighted the hard work the Hoppers have put into the community. This includes initiating projects like the Ashmun Creek Trail system, transforming undeveloped public lands into accessible trails, and creating a network of volunteers in the Eastern Upper Peninsula. By never giving up on their dreams, the Hoppers have put Sault Ste. Marie on the map on the state level as a premiere outdoor destination.

To celebrate this honor, the Sault Ste. Marie Convention & Visitors Bureau will be providing locals with a free cup of coffee Friday morning between 9 and 11 at Bird’s Eye Outfitters. This is a great chance for the community to visit the location, learn about Ken and Wilda’s honors, and find out more about the work being done by the Hoppers, their family, their staff, and the volunteers they inspire.

Photo Credit: MEDC