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Jennette’s Pier staff members pick peers for excellence awards

By Daryl Law, Jennette’s Pier

Three employees of Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head have been honored by their co-workers for excelling at their jobs in 2019.

Director Mike Remige presented each of them with a certificate recently; the pier’s original awards celebration was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Environmental educator Meredith Fish received plenty of praise from her co-workers and she was the sole winner of the Award of Excellence, the highest honor bestowed.

In her seventh summer at the pier and third year as a full time employee, Fish has certainly made her mark in the Education Department.

She is a dedicated employee who sets goals and works hard to reach them. With a double major from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, this former marching band flute player and Disney lover has a bright future.

“I start projects with a lot of planning, get the details figured out and then . . . I execute the plan,” Fish said.

Along the way, she also considers her target audience, “school kids or general public?” Fish attempts to work in conservation messages too.

During most of her tenure at the pier, Fish taught lessons in person but more recently, she has adjusted to being an online educator in the pier’s new virtual programming push.

It’s also been revealed she has an excellent on-camera presence through a series of environmental YouTube videos she produced.

But the down to earth Kitty Hawk local, who thrived at First Flight High School and “Carolina” prefers teaching in person.

“The summer camps have always been a highlight,” she said. “It’s nice to have the kids back every year, nice to see them growing up.”

Another pier award winner, Janie Shanks, also loves to be around children. In fact, she has a whole house full of kids as several generations live with her and husband Ted, a Dare MedFlight helicopter mechanic.

But it’s her dedicated work in the Pier Shop for the N.C. Aquarium Society that’s earned her one of two Sea Star Awards this year. The gift shop sells T-shirts, hats, beach supplies, jewelry, drinks and, of course, bait and fishing supplies.

The self-proclaimed “night owl” who always works the late shifts as “the closer,” she said was a bit surprised she won.

“I couldn’t believe it – its like ‘wow!’” Shanks said. “It usually goes to a long-timer, I’m just four going on five years. This is nice! This is a privilege!”

While ringing folks up, she shares her knowledge about Jennette’s Pier.

“I love the customers, love them!” Shanks noted. “I just hope they’re having a good time because of everything.

“I like for them to know this is an education pier,” she added. “There’s a lot of information to learn. Most think we’re just a fishing pier but we’re more than that.”

An Indiana transplant, the customer service pro does her best to help customers get the most from their visit.

Another stellar employee who enjoys helping people is Rhoads Lee.

A longtime fisherman, he likes to educate anglers on ways to improve their chances to catch a fish. He also won the Sea Star award.

“Oh yeah, I love it here, being right on the ocean,” he said. “There can’t be a better view.

“I’ve been fishing my whole life and always joked I would work at a pier [in retirement] and here I am living the dream,” Lee said.

When there is a chance to help a customer, he steps in and does his best.

“I know some of my co-workers are not quite as experienced, I started at eight years old,” Lee said.

“In my twenties, I discovered the Outer Banks and fell in love with surf fishing,” he said. “I fished on a team in Ocracoke for twenty years.

“We have a lot of novice anglers,” Lee said. “I really enjoy passing on what I know, trying to make them more successful.”

The former land surveyor from Urbanna, Va., who now lives on the north end of Roanoke Island with wife Mary Ellen Lee, cruises to work and on the beach in a tough looking 1994 Toyota pick-up with big tires.

“I still drive it back and forth, drive it on the beach,” he said. “That’s my beach buggy.”

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