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RALEIGH, N.C. (March 13) – Lt. Norman Watts, a wildlife officer with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission stationed in Elizabeth City, has been named Boating Officer of the Year for North Carolina.

The prestigious award is presented annually by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators and its regional partner, the Southern States Boating Law Administrators Association.

The award comes in recognition of how Lt. Watts “continually goes beyond the agency’s expectations of public outreach in the area of boating safety,” said district supervisor, Capt. Jay Rivenbark. “His knowledge and experience in the areas of enforcement, education, innovation, search and rescue, and partnership have made him invaluable to the state of North Carolina.”

The list of accomplishments and contributions that helped Lt. Watts become Officer of the Year is lengthy. Through his efforts in boating safety education, Lt. Watts helps those who help others. He created special training for emergency responders operating boats during natural disasters and in hazardous conditions, titled “Law Enforcement and the Emergency Responder’s Boating Safety Course.” This training includes on-the-water instruction that simulates hazardous conditions and operating with restricted maneuverability.

Lt. Watts works closely with the U.S. Coast Guard, state and local agencies in search and rescue missions. He is part of the multi-agency task force that provides security during the annual “Carolina Cup Classic” boat races in Elizabeth City. He provides boat training to recruits at the N.C. Wildlife Officers Academy and mentors young officers, while always continuing his own education, including completing coursework at the Maritime Law Enforcement School in Yorktown, Va.

Lt. Watts is a 23-year veteran of the Wildlife Resources Commission. He earned an associate degree in liberal arts from the College of the Albemarle and a bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology from N.C. State University. He and his wife Rhonda have two children, Holley and Bryan.

“From a boating safety prospective, if I had one wish, it would be that not another person lose their life on the water,” said Lt. Watts.

For more information on free boating education courses offered by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and state boating requirements, visit Welcome to N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission or call (919) 707-0031.


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