Kemp Burdette is the Cape Fear Riverkeeper and Executive Director of Cape Fear River Watch where he works to protect and improve the water quality of the Lower Cape Fear River. He is a Wilmington native who grew up exploring the waterways and swamps that make our area so special. Kemp has lived and traveled around the world as a US Navy search and rescue swimmer, a Fulbright Scholar, and a Peace Corps volunteer. At home and abroad Kemp has always been interested in the way humans interact with their environment.
His academic background is in geology and history, graduating from UNCW magna cum laude with honors, and he holds a master of public administration (MPA), also from UNCW. He also holds a certificate in nonprofit management from Duke University.
Kemp spends most of his free time with his two daughters Olivia and Caroline, working in his garden, or tinkering in his workshop, or exploring the waterways and swamps of the Lower Cape Fear Region. He has been the Executive Director and Riverkeeper for Cape Fear River Watch since 2010.
Frank is a native of Wilson, NC and spent his summers working on the family farm. He graduated from UNC Chapel Hill in 1970 with a bachelor’s degree in Zoology, in 1984 from UNC Wilmington with a master’s degree in Marine Biology, and in 1993 with a master’s degree in Biostatistics from UNC Chapel Hill. Frank worked for the NC Wildlife Resources Commission during the summers while an undergraduate. After obtaining his bachelor’s degree, Frank worked for the NC Division of Marine Fisheries for 5 1⁄2 years in Morehead City. In 1975 he moved to Wilmington where he worked for the US Army Corps of Engineers as a Biologist for 39 years. During his Corps career, Frank had extensive experience on the Cape Fear River and developed relationships with numerous agencies and organizations interested in the river. In addition, Frank was instrumental in having the rock rapids fish passage constructed at Lock and Dam #1. The day after he retired from the Corps, Frank came to work for Cape Fear River Watch as the Associate Director.
Frank married his best friend Angie in 1986 and have two married daughters that live locally. No grandchildren yet. Frank has been involved in many volunteer activities including: Northside Baptist Church, Optimist softball, and Boy Scouts, and Frank also teaches part-time at Mount Olive University. Both he and Angie love outdoor activities including boating, fishing, hiking, camping and jogging.
Frank is excited about his opportunity to help Cape Fear River Watch’s continuing efforts to enhance the quality of the Cape Fear River Ecosystem.
Kay Lynn Plummer-Hernandez is a wildlife biologist originally from Arkansas. She spent four years in the Florida Keys working for the Nature Conservancy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. While in the Keys, she conducted the U.S. Breeding Bird Survey as well as research on sea urchins, damselfish, the Mangrove Cuckoo, and seagrass scars. After gaining experience in aquatic preserve management, she worked in the Netherlands Antilles, managing three nature parks – a national park, a botanical garden, and a marine park. She brings with her to River Watch a love for the environment and passion for educating children.
Jen Cole is a native of Asheville, North Carolina. She moved to Wilmington in 2003 to attend UNCW where she received a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in environmental science. She is passionate and enthusiastic about environmental conservation. Growing up hiking, fishing, swimming, biking, rafting, and camping the gorgeous Great Smoky Mountains fueled her environmental drive. Here in the Cape Fear region, she has worked with many local organizations on conservation, social networking, animal rescue, and environmental education.