USC Upstate’s Watershed Ecology Center Earns Award for Education and Outreach Efforts

Two people holding awards.
USC Upstate

The Environmental Education Association of South Carolina (EEASC) has recognized the University of South Carolina Upstate’s Watershed Ecology Center (WEC) as the 2022 Non-Profit Organization of the Year. Jack Turner, director of WEC, accepted the award during a ceremony at the association’s annual conference held June 8-11 in Aiken, S.C.

Each year, EEASC presents five awards to individuals, groups, or organizations who have contributed significantly to environmental education in the state. The Non-Profit Organization of the Year award recognizes a non-profit that has “been able to carry out a mission that includes environmental education activities.”

“We do have one of the most active programs in the state among those who bring their programs into the classroom,” said Turner, a native of Milner, Colorado, who moved to Spartanburg in 1974 to teach in USC Upstate’s science department. “We are delighted to be recognized by colleagues who are working in the same field.”

Turner and his staff of eight provide educational programming that reaches thousands of children in grades K-8 across the community every year and teaches them about the value of aquatic environments and the need to be caretakers of water resources. The lesson plans are grade-level specific, designed to meet South Carolina science standards, prepare students for the PACT, and are offered at no charge to local schools.

WEC has reached more than 100,000 children since its inception in 2001. Additionally, programming has extended into the summer to include a pontoon classroom on Lake Bowen and several science camps held on campus and at Spartanburg’s Hatcher Garden and Woodland Preserve.

“EEASC’s Awards Committee was excited to see the Watershed Ecology Center nominated for the 2021 Non-Profit Environmental Organization of the Year award,” said Chenille Williams, president of EEASC. “Jack Turner and his team have educated thousands of students through free hands-on school programs to teach students about protecting watersheds, as well as hosted SC Adopt-a-Stream and Rain Barrel workshops for the community, and annually led two summer day camps. They have been a great asset to the Upstate.”

For more information, visit www.uscupstate.edu/wec.

Photograph: Jack Turner, right, recently accepted the Non-Profit Organization of the Year award on behalf of USC Upstate’s Watershed Ecology Center at the Environmental Education Association of South Carolina’s annual conference in Aiken, S.C.

Prepared by USC Upstate.