Teaching the dangers of rip currents through interpretive dance

Dr. Charlie Paxton has dedicated his career to raising awareness about the dangers of rip currents. As a Science and Operations Officer for the National Weather Service, he predicts when rip currents will occur. Paxton is currently working on an interpretive dance video project to help raise awareness.

“I like feeling like maybe I’m helping someone. I feel like I’m doing something good,” said young dancer Eliana Vogel.

Paxton’s passion of surfing put him in an environment where he realized there was a problem.  He pursued a Ph.D. in Environment and Planning from the University of South Florida to find a solution. During his studies, Paxton learned that on an average summer day in Florida, eight people drown in rip currents.

“I’ve saved people that have been in panic mode out in the water because they’re being pulled out. It’s important to not panic, to float, to tread water, and to know that if you’re in a rip current, the rip current will eventually let you go,” said Paxton.

“He has a passion for what he studied, and that’s what makes it so easy to work with him,” said USF Professor Dr. Jennifer Collins. “I hope to work with him again in the future.”