May 17, 2017

Town ambassadors welcome you at Babcock Ranch

By: Vicki Parsons - IT

2017-05-10 / Real Estate News


From the land of sunshine and sustainable technology, four ambassadors welcome visitors who stop by Babcock Ranch to find out more about the solar-powered community which is in the works. Their embassy, so to speak, is Woodlea Hall in downtown Babcock, also known as the Discovery Center, the town’s civic and information hub.

On any given day, this is where you’ll find Paige Rausch, Rick Vorell, Janis Bowles and Jennifer Laritz, greeting folks who walk through the door and leading groups to comfy nooks with couches and touch-screen TVs. There, they explain the ins and outs of the town and its housing, trails, markets, water, solar field, driverless cars, internet service or answer just about any other question thrown their way.

Meet the ambassadors.

Paige Rausch

Ms. Rausch calls Fort Myers her “homeland,” the place where she was born, raised and lives today.

A licensed real estate professional, she has been working with builders in Southwest Florida for 13 years. Ms. Rausch has long followed the development of Babcock Ranch, from the sale to Kitson & Partners in 2006 to today, as it comes to fruition.

“I have never known a developer to go to the lengths Mr. Kitson has for future generations,” she said. “Seeing what had to be achieved to take raw land through countless agencies, local, state and federal approvals was mind bending, and took him nearly a decade in total. But honestly, what impressed me on the initial tour after the first shovels hit the ground was the condition of the entire ecosystem and how the synthesis of development techniques and smart technologies have been interwoven with a ranch I’ve always loved for being a prime example of old Florida.”

Outside Babcock, she considers herself an “unofficial” ambassador to the beaches of Sanibel Island and Boca Grande, and enjoys attending Red Sox and Twins spring training games. She also loves to ride horseback and spend time with friends and family.

<a href=”″ target=”_blank”><img src=”″ width=”300″ height=”250″ border=”1″ /></a>

Janis Bowles

Janis Bowles spent much of her youth on the Jersey Shore, where her father was a builder in Brick Township.

“It was nothing like the TV show,” she said. “…I had a great childhood. We lived in a neighborhood where everyone knew each other.”

With more than 30 years of experience in accounting, office management and administrative support, as well as 15 years in new home sales, her life has brought her to New Orleans, Maryland, and even Scotland for a while, as well as Pensacola.

When Hurricane Sandy struck in 2012 she was living back on the Jersey shore and working with a building company to help reconstruct homes that had been destroyed or washed out to sea.

She originally came to Florida to live near her parents, and at Babcock has a chance to utilize her skills garnered in homebuilding and real estate.

“I saw it as a great opportunity for me to be able to give back to the business world, without having to sell real estate anymore,” she said.

Now a resident of Punta Gorda, she lives just a few doors down from her 91-year-old father, close enough that she can be there for him to help out if he needs it.


Rick Vorell

Mr. Vorell grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and now makes his home in Fort Myers with his miniature pinscher, Tweezer. He has lived in Southwest Florida since 1978 when he followed his high school sweetheart here. Things didn’t work out but he stayed, and later took care of his parents during the last decade of their lives after they moved down, too. He also started a real estate career in 1989.

When he’s not working as an ambassador, you might find him camping in Ten Thousand Islands, working out at the gym, or riding a three-wheel recumbent road bike on which he has logged 10,000 miles since 2012. Over the last few decades he has also been involved as an actor in television, film and theater.

“(Acting) is one of my passions but this is my forefront,” he said of his work as a Babcock ambassador. “I do enjoy the occasional film that I’m in.”

Recently, he played a district attorney in “Hanging Millstone,” a 2016 film shot in Collier and Lee counties. At Babcock Ranch, he enjoys “being a part of and introducing a community and lifestyle not seen or experienced anywhere in the United States.”


Jennifer Laritz

Born in Wisconsin, Jennifer Laritz later went to high school in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and then attended the University of Wyoming. She came to Southwest Florida as a sales manager for a homebuilding company to open a satellite office in Charlotte County.

“I traded my mountains for beach and sunshine,” said Ms. Lartiz, who lives in Punta Gorda.

A sales veteran with a variety of experience, from real estate to retail, she also brought with her a love for the outdoors. She has been a scouting leader for the past 11 years, and recalls brining her Cub Scouts for a Babcock Ranch Preserve Eco-Tour in 2006.

“I’m a very outdoorsy person,” she said. “The kayaking, the camping, and this area having nature all around me totally intrigued me. Working in a place where I can get off work and throw my fishing rod in the lake or kayak, it doesn’t get much better.”

As an ambassador, she said, “I’m the cheerleader… We don’t sell per se. We just sell the dream Mr. Kitson has for the self-sustainable city that everyone can be a part of.”