MILWAUKEE – Thousands of people will head to Lake Milwaukee this summer to cool off, but there will be no lifeguards on duty. In response to a number of drownings two years ago, the Milwaukee Beach Ambassadors program, now in its second year, is arming swimmers with knowledge to keep them safe.
The cool water of Lake Michigan beckons on a hot day at Bradford Beach.
As you join the folks lakeside in Milwaukee this summer, you might see people pushing an ice cream cart. They don’t sell ice cream, they sell information.
“Even though it’s really nice outside, it can get a bit chilly in the water – it’s 50 degrees – so if you stand above your height for a long period of time, you could suffer from hypothermia,” Korynne said. Wilson.
2021 was the pilot year for the Milwaukee Beach Ambassador program in response to a number of drownings in 2020 and no lifeguards due to a lack of experienced open water lifeguards. A
“Instead of fundraising for more signs or putting up more signs, we felt like this approach — having a face-to-face conversation,” said Deidre Peroff, Wisconsin Sea Social Science Outreach Specialist. Grant.
Now in its second year, it’s a partnership between Milwaukee County Parks and Wisconsin Sea Grant (offering a scholarship), Milwaukee Water Commons, the Community Sailing Center, and private donations.
Thursday June 9 was the first day for this year’s four ambassadors on the beach, but the work of Mikayla Walker, Chris Giddens, Gavin Schmidt and Korryne Wilson began a week earlier at the Sailing Center, learning about water safety, quality water and how to learn about beaches and Lake Michigan and how dangerous they are.
SIGN UP TODAY: Get daily headlines, topical emails from FOX6 News
“The weather changes in seconds. In seconds,” Lloyd Seawright said. “It’s changing really fast.”
Their goal is to start conversations about the dangers and the resources available to keep people safe.
“Two of my favorite things are being outdoors and helping people,” Wilson said. “Working with an organization that combines the two is something really special.”
Wilson is a sophomore at Beloit College, interning with Wisconsin Sea Grant through the program.
“It’s so much more than handing out pamphlets,” Wilson said. “We have this information in our head, and we actively talk to people instead of just giving something and leaving.”
From Thursday to Sunday, Ambassadors will stroll the beaches, take notes and talk, looking to strike up a conversation and keep you safe while you try to stay cool.
The four Beach Ambassadors are paired with four sponsoring organizations, working 20-30 hours a week through Labor Day.