Charleston County Parks employees awarded for excellence

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Kevin Rowland (left)

[CHARLESTON COUNTY] – Two employees of the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission (CCPRC) were recently awarded for excellence in their fields. Environmental Education Coordinator Beth Burkett was awarded as Marine Educator of the Year from the South Carolina Marine Educators Association, and Whirlin’ Waters Manager Kevin Rowland was awarded with a Safety Award from the World Waterpark Association.

CCPRC Environmental Educator Beth Burkett works throughout various locations but is based out of Caw Caw Interpretive Center. Beth was honored with as Marine Educator of the Year at the South Carolina Marine Educators Association (SCMEA) annual conference on Oct. 24 in Greenville. The SCMEA Marine Educator of the Year award recognizes the state’s most outstanding marine educator. During her award presentation, Burkett's accomplishments as an innovator, a state leader and a mentor in the field of marine education were highlighted.

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Beth Burkett

Burkett earned a degree in Biology from Erskine College and has been working for CCPRC as an environmental educator since 2000, teaching children about coastal ecosystems of all kinds. Via various Charleston County Parks that feature different ecosystems, Burkett is able to teach children about cypress-tupelo swamps, brackish marches, freshwater marshes and ponds, salt marshes, dunes, intertidal areas, maritime forests, and nearly every other habitat in the Lowcountry. She has coordinated education with tens of thousands of students from organizations ranging from schools to after school programs, day care centers, camps and more, all while meeting SC and National educational standards.

The SCMEA was formed in 1988 as a non-profit educational organization and is a chapter of the National Marine Educators Association. For more information SCMEA, visit www.scmarineed.org.

Whirlin’ Waters Adventure Waterpark Manager Kevin Rowland was honored with the World Waterpark Association’s (WWA) Kelly Ogle Memorial Safety Award on Oct. 21 in Palm Springs, CA. This award is presented to an individual or organization for significant contributions to guest and employee safety in the water attractions industry. Rowland, who began his career with CCPRC as a lifeguard 17 years ago, was honored for innovative and effective safety training and awareness for capturing and sharing videos featuring real-life waterpark rescue situations.

Rowland oversees a staff of 200 and strives to provide innovative training for them all. In an effort to get attention-grabbing footage for initial lifeguard training, Rowland began filming real-life rescues via a stationary camera at the Big Kahuna wave pool several years ago. Years later, after presenting these videos at a WWA conference, he began posting them on a Youtube channel to share with his peers.

In the summer of 2015, Rowland’s videos received significant media attention on ABC’s “Good Morning America” as well as in The New York Times and many other outlets during news stories about the difficulties of spotting a drowning victim. Today, his channel has been viewed millions of times by people throughout the world, for purposes ranging from lifeguard training to the average viewer interested in learning about victim recognition. He has received comments from parents who say that his videos are the reason they enrolled their child in swimming lessons, or that they inspired them to keep a closer eye on their children. According to the WWA, the videos “represent lifeguards in a positive light and spark important discussions on swimmer safety, parental responsibility, and the importance of learning to swim.”

The WWA, which was started in 1982, is an international not-for-profit member-based trade association that serves waterparks, aquatic venues and spray parks of all shapes and sizes. For more information, visit www.waterparks.org.