CHARLESTON - When the S.C. Aquarium celebrates its 10-year anniversary at its Environmental Stewardship Awards banquet this spring, the annual soiree will bring to town its most high-profile guest yet: former Vice President Al Gore.
Aquarium president and chief executive Kevin Mills said Gore will accept the aquarium's Legacy Award at the April event.
Gore, 61, led early congressional efforts to combat global warming and guided the environmental protection policies under President Clinton's administration.
He wrote "Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit" in 1992. His best-selling book, "An Inconvenient Truth," was adapted to film and received two Academy Awards in 2007, the same year he shared a Nobel Peace Prize.
His latest book, "Our Choice," was released in November.
"It's hard to imagine an individual who's done more to raise awareness of the care of the environment than Al Gore has," Mills said.
The aquarium has placed Gore on its short list for the Legacy Award for years, but this time the scheduling worked.
"It took a while, but we're thrilled he was able to make this opportunity possible," Mills said.
The aquarium's Achievement Award next year goes to Emory Campbell, a Hilton Head Island native dedicated to preserving the Gullah culture of the Lowcountry in South Carolina and Georgia. Chairman of the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission, Campbell previously served as executive director of the Penn Center, the site of one of the first schools for freed slaves.
The aquarium also will honor the Charleston Battery with its Leadership Award at the gala. The soccer team undertook a three-stage approach to making its operations more earth-friendly. The resulting changes include installing low-flow toilets, energy-efficient hand dyers and beer coolers and even nixing bottled water sales by giving customers Charleston tap water for free.