2019 Fall in to the Lowcountry Retreat

Featured Speakers:

Dana Beach

Dana Beach

Speaking Friday 1:00-2:00 pm, on The Battle to Protect the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge

Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, MB19A, Finance 1979
Davidson College, BS, Mathematics, magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa 1977

Founder and Executive Director Emeritus South Carolina Coastal Conservation League: 1989 – 2017; Executive Director; 2018 –present,
Environmental Positions and Awards

Past Special Assistant for Environmental Affairs to Congressman Arthur Ravenel, Jr. (1st District, SC); .

Founding Board Member, Conservation Voters of SC * Board Member, Penn Center, St. Helena Island * Founding Board Member and Treasurer, American College of the Building Arts * Butler Conservation Fund, Director * Black River Management Company, Director * Black River Cypress Preserve, LLC, President and COO

1988 Conservationist of the Year, SC Sierra Club * 1988 Outdoor Ethics Award, SC Wildlife Federation * 1993 National Wetlands Award, US EPA/Environmental Law Institute * 1993 Environmental Awareness Award, SC Legislature * 1994 James S. Dockery Southern Environmental Leadership Award * 1994 American Institute of Architects Charleston Chapter, Significant Friend Award * 1998 Time Magazine for Kids, Hero for the Planet * 2000 Order of the Palmetto * 2007 Charleston Magazine “100 Most Influential Charlestonians in History” * 2013 Conservation Voters of South Carolina Harriet Keyserling Conservation Advocacy Award * 2015 Peter Benchley “Hero of the Seas” award
Dana Beach founded the South Carolina Coastal Conservation in 1989. Since that time, the organization has grown from 2 staff members and an annual budget of $90,000 to 35 staff members, with offices in Beaufort, Charleston, Georgetown, and Columbia, supported by an annual budget of $3.5 million. The Conservation League is recognized as one of the most successful state-level conservation groups in the country, particularly for its work in the field of land use reform. The Conservation League works with citizens and government to develop policies that promote sustainable patterns of development for people and the environment. In 2001, the Conservation League launched GrowFood Carolina, the state’s first local food hub.

After working in New York City in investment banking, Beach moved to Charleston where he served as a legislative assistant to Congressman Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Beach is the recipient of a variety of awards including the Order of the Palmetto, Time Magazine for Kids “Hero for the Planet,” and the Peter Benchley “Hero of the Seas” award. He is the author of the Pew Oceans Commission’s publication, Coastal Sprawl: The Impacts of Development on Aquatic Ecosystems in the United States and Deveaux, a photographic essay of a seabird colony in the South Carolina Lowcountry. Beach is the coauthor, with his wife Virginia, of a history of the first three decades of the Coastal Conservation League, A Wholly Admirable Thing, which was published by Evening Post Books in December, 2018.

Paul Manos

Paul Manos, PhD

Biology Department
Duke University

Speaking Saturday 8:00-9:00 am, on his research on the diversification of the Quercus family (the Oaks)

PhD., Cornell University 1992 M.S., Rutgers University 1986 B.A., Drew University 1982

My research emphasizes woody plants, especially the systematics of Fagaceae (the oak family), Juglandaceae (the walnut family), and related wind-pollinated families of flowering plants (Fagales). Our lab uses DNA sequences to generate hypotheses of phylogenetic relationship for inferring morphological character evolution, analyzing patterns of biogeography, and testing species concepts. Students and postdocs have studied the systematics and diversification of the following angiosperm families: Acanthaceae, Nyctaginaceae, Zingiberaceae, Rhamnaceae, Montiaceae, Humiriaceae, Solanaceae, Convolvulaceae, Piperaceae, and Dilleniaceae. Current research interests involve a range of evolutionary and ecological questions within the Fagaceae. For example, we have reinterpreted cupule evolution in the Fagaceae and calibrated the phylogeny for the American clades of Quercus. Ongoing collaborations with Andrew Hipp, John McVay, Andy Crowl, Antonio González-Rodríguez, and Jeannine Cavender-Bares seek to integrate phylogenetic data with phenotypic traits and functional genes to explain species distributions and to better understand the adaptive nature of introgression in the oaks. Other research interests include the phylogeography of eastern North American woody plants and the development of a research network for the southeastern flora.

Philip Dunstan

Philip Dustan, PhD

Department of Biology
College of Charleston

Saturday evening, showing u0026amp; discussing his documentary Chasing Coral; an Award winning Netflix documentary.

Chasing Coral won Sundance US Documentary in 2017, a Peabody Award for story telling, and an Emmy for Outstanding nature Documentary.

Adelphi University BS 1969
Suny at Stoneybrook Phd 1975
Post doc Scripps Institute of Oceanography

Dr. Phillip Dustan, Professor of Biology, College of Charleston, is a marine ecologist specializing in the ecology, vitality, and conservation of coral reefs. Much of his work has centered on detecting change in reef communities to assess coral reef health. Additional interests include phytoplankton ecology, the oceanography of marine mammal habitats, and human influences on marine ecosystems.
Phil began his reef studies in Discovery Bay, Jamaica in the early 1970’s which expanded to include the Florida Keys, Bahamas, the wider Caribbean, Pacific, Indian Oceans, and the Java Sea. Other research experiences include being Principal Scientist onboard Calypso during the Cousteau Society Amazon Expedition, 1982-83, piloting the one-man Deepworker 2000 submersible to explore deep reefs in the Florida and mapping the distribution of marine mammal habitats in the California Current with satellite imagery. He worked closely with Captain Jacques Yves Cousteau and the Cousteau Society between 1974-2000, testified to the US Senate Subcommittee on Oceans. He was among the first US scientists to work with Russian scientists from the USSR Academy of Sciences Far East Branch aboard the Academic Alexander Nesmyanov at the end of the cold war in 1989.
Dr. Dustan was a founding Principal Investigator on the USEPA Florida Keys Coral Reef/Hardbottom Monitoring Project, pioneered remote sensing techniques for coral reef.


Elizabeth Anderegg

Friday 1:00 – 5:00 pm and Sunday 8:00 am – 12:00 pm, Kayak leader on two Francis Marion kayaking trips, with Jeff Jackson

College of Charleston BA

Elizabeth Anderegg, kayak guide and instructor, is manager of Nature Adventures, LLC at Shem Creek.  As a graduate of the College of Charleston, with a BA in US History, it was hard to leave the area. Always drawn to the history and natural beauty of Charleston, Elizabeth has spent the last 14 years working on the creeks and rivers of the Lowcountry.  As statewide Master Naturalist and SC Pro-Birder, sharing the Lowcountry with others is her passion.

Ed Blitch, DPM

Sunday 6:00 – 10:00 am, Off – site trip leader searching for the elusive Red Cockaded Woodpecker, emphasizing photography of birds u0026amp; use of E-bird

College of Charleston 1981

MUSC, BS in Cytotechnology 1986 Instructor 1986-88

Barry University School of Podiatric Medicine, Miami FL, 1988-1992

Doctor of Podiatric Medicine

Western Pennsylvania Hospital, Pittsburgh PA 1992-1995

Residency in Reconstructive Foot and Ankle Surgery

Private Practice Charleston SC 1995-present

Coastal Carolina Podiatry

Member, American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS)

Board Certified, American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery

Distinguished Service Award, ACFAS 2014

The College’s most prestigious individual honor

Former advisor, Musculoskeletal Tissue Foundation

Published many articles and textbook chapters on a variety of surgical topics,

regional and national speaker for ACFAS

Certified, Coastal Master Naturalist

Board member, Coastal Master Naturalists Association

Board member, Carolina Bird Club

Volunteer, South Carolina Audubon

Member, Charleston Natural History/Audubon Association

Beth Burkett

Saturday, 4:00 – 5:00 pm, Nature Journaling

Presentation Description:  Add a dash of creativity to your nature outings through the process of journaling. Tips on how to artistically document your observations will be discussed, demonstrated, and practiced during this session.

Beth Burkett is the Interpretation and Stewardship Manager for the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission. Beth joined the agency in 2000 as an environmental educator and spent the last eighteen years teaching children to care for the natural and cultural resources found in their county parks.

Beth holds certifications from the National Association for Interpretation as a Certified Interpretive Guide, Certified Interpretive Trainer, and Certified Interpretive Host. She is also a Certified SC Master Naturalist and certified South Carolina Environmental Educator through the Palmetto Environmental Education Certification program. Beth has served on the board of the South Carolina Marine Educators Association in several positions including President in 2009. She also received the SC Marine Educator of the Year award in 2015. In her spare time Beth celebrates the wonders of nature through journaling, drawing, painting, and the ceramic arts.

Carl Cole

Saturday, 11:00 am – 12:00 pm, Lecturing on prescribed burning

U of Arkansas BS

Carl W. Cole was born in California but grew up in Arkansas between the Ozark and Ouachita mountains. He did two tours as a Navy Radioman in Vietnam. After a BS in Mathematics from the University of Arkansas, he spent about four decades as a computer programmer and IT manager, much of that as VP or Director for a software company.  After retiring, he became a Charleston Master Naturalist, a South Carolina Statewide Master Naturalist and has other naturalist certifications including SC Certified Prescribed Fire Manager. He volunteers doing prescribed burning, water quality sampling, shorebird stewarding, and a variety of other environmental tasks. He keeps a vegetable garden, enjoys cooking – especially Vietnamese and other Southeast Asian food – and is an occasional artist, poet, and essayist.  He is a member of Mensa and the Triple Nine Society.

Ashley Demosthenes

Friday 2:00 – 5:00 pm, Conservation Heros Panel “The History of Landscape Scale Conservation in the Lowcountry” with Raleigh West; Charles Lane; John Girault

Presentation Description: The ACE Basin project has a story.  It’s a story of vision, land, people, and determination to save one of the last great places in South Carolina – maybe the Southeast. 

The Ashepoo-Combahee-Edisto (ACE) Basin project, started in the mid-1980’s by a small group of people, has become a national model for effective collaboration and achieving tangible conservation outcomes.  It began with an idea, and an acute understanding that if we do not act to conserve the abundant natural resources in SC, they will be lost forever.

This session will describe the early leadership decisions that created the ACE Basin project, and explains the evolution of landscape-scale conservation as we know it today. 

Ashley Demosthenes, President and CEO, began her conservation career in 1998 with The Nature Conservancy in South Carolina where she worked for sixteen years negotiating land acquisition projects and conservation easements across the state. Ashley became Lowcountry Land Trust’s first Director of Conservation in 2013, managing the conservation and stewardship program for the Trust. In March of 2015, Ashley was promoted to Executive Director and eventually President u0026amp; CEO. Ashley oversees the entire operation of the Trust with a special emphasis on strategic conservation leadership, fundraising and public policy. Ashley graduated with a B.A. in Environmental Studies from the University of Vermont. She has a lifelong love of her native Lowcountry where she and her husband and three children live, work, and play.

Dennis Forsyth, PhD

Sunday 10:00 am – 12:00 pm, Leading a trip in the Francis Marion National Forest for butterflies (but expect birds, wildflowers, and lots of things otherwise)

PhD Clemson Utah St. University Logan MS  Ohio University, Athens BS

Dr. Dennis M. Forsythe has been interested in birds since the age of 5 when he went on his first birding trip with the Toledo Naturalists’ Association in his native Toledo, Ohio. He received a B.S. in Zoology from Ohio University, an M.S. in Zoology from Utah State University, and a PhD in Zoology from Clemson University. His professional interest include: bird songs, pelagic and terrestrial bird communities. He is the author of numerous scientific papers and belongs to a variety of scientific societies. He is an elected member of the American Ornithologists’ Union. From 1969 through 2005, Dr. Forsythe was a Professor of Biology at The Citadel, Charleston, SC. Since retired, he has been active in increasing people’s interest in birding, having taught numerous workshops on bird identification and lead bird tours in North America, Belize, Trinidad, Alaska etc. He is the Compiler of the Santee NWR Christmas Bird Count as well as the South Carolina Christmas Bird Count Editor and the South Carolina Reviewer for the Great Backyard Bird Count and Ebirds. Since 1999 He has been interested in butterflies and with colleagues from the College of Charleston has worked on the status and distribution on SC butterflies. He has participated in butterfly counts in MI, OH, GA and SC and had lead butterfly walks for different organizations.

Linda Gerenillo, PhD


BS in Secondary Education from Youngstown State University, MS in Nutrition from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, and PhD in Counseling Psychology from Kent State University.

Presentation Description: Wildlife and insects (fauna) have been declining at alarming rates of over 50% in the last 40 years.  Learn how to create a sustainable eco-friendly chemical free yard to attract an array of fauna by providing a variety of the right flora so it all works together to produce a productive, beautiful yard.  By following five garden practices, you will at the same time reduce greenhouse gases u0026amp; climate changes. Three lectures will be presented in this series.

1) “The Five Climate Friendly Gardening Guidelines” Land management is responsible for 30% of greenhouse gas emissions. In order to educate home owners about yard and gardening practices that either help or hinder global warming, the Union of Concerned Scientists created a downloadable booklet entitled “The Climate Friendly Garden:  A Guide to Combating Climate Warming from the Ground Up”. The five “general suggestions” will be presented in detail so that home owners in SC will know “how” to implement them to reduce the need for artificial chemicals to control bugs and disease.http://rocklandcce.org/resources/climate-friendly-gardener

2) “Creating Healthy Soils u0026amp; Sustainable Ecosystem in Your Yard”  Learn how to create good fungi with compost and free wood chips so that the can grow healthy plants.  Develop a total food web with a variety of fauna and flora to support each other.

3) “Beneficial Plants Will Attract “Beneficial Insects” to Reduce the Destructive Insects” Besides pollinators, you will want to make sure your yard also has a special group called “beneficial insects.” Learn to provide the right habitat and food for the “beneficial insects” so they will stay in your yard to destroy the destructive insects, if they arrive.

Linda Geronilla, Ph.D. is a psychologist with degrees in education, nutrition, interfaith studies, and Counseling and is a Master Gardener, Master Naturalists and Permaculture practitioner. In 2016, she built an acre sustainable homestead on Johns Island which won an “Energy Innovation Award” with US Department of Energy and Charleston Home Builder’s Prism Award which is platinum LEED certified. She volunteers in Audubon’s “Saving Sea u0026amp; Shore Birds” and “Higher Ground” with climate change and disaster preparation projects. She loves to teach low carbon organic gardening, soil improvement, seed starting in water with grow lights, rain barrels, wildlife and bug habitat, recycling, and composting.

John Girault

Edisto Land Trust

Friday 2:00 – 5:00 pm, Conservation Heros Panel “The History of Landscape Scale Conservation in the Lowcountry” with Raleigh West; Charles Lane; Ashley Demosthenes

Presentation Description: The ACE Basin project has a story.  It’s a story of vision, land, people, and determination to save one of the last great places in South Carolina – maybe the Southeast. 

The Ashepoo-Combahee-Edisto (ACE) Basin project, started in the mid-1980’s by a small group of people, has become a national model for effective collaboration and achieving tangible conservation outcomes.  It began with an idea, and an acute understanding that if we do not act to conserve the abundant natural resources in SC, they will be lost forever.

This session will describe the early leadership decisions that created the ACE Basin project, and explains the evolution of landscape-scale conservation as we know it today. 

John Girault became the Executive Director for the Edisto Island Open Land Trust in the spring of 2013. Prior to coming to Edisto, he gained his first experiences in the land conservation arena as the Executive Director of the Mount Pleasant Land Trust starting in 2008. He graduated from UNC-Wilmington with a B.A. in Natural Resource Management. His love for the outdoors was fueled by his experiences immediately out of school working with the US Forest Service in the Green Mountains of Vermont to Land Between the Lakes in Tennessee. He came to Charleston in 1996 and worked with Kiawah Island Resort’s recreation department for 5 years. His exposure to the natural beauty found in the Lowcountry inspired him to pursue a career helping protect it. He currently oversees all aspects of EIOLT with a focus on continued land conservation, fundraising and building operational capacity for the land trust. John and his wife share their home with several adopted dogs and a cat who all enjoy the amazing peace and wild adventure that can be found on Edisto.

Jordan Gray

Friday, 4:00 – 5:00 pm, Turtle Survival Alliance: Transforming Passion for Turtles into Effective Conservation Action 

Jordan Gray is the Communications and Outreach Coordinator with the Turtle Survival Alliance and field scientist for their North American Freshwater Turtle Research Group. Coming from a military family, Jordan has lived across the United States and internationally. Now based in Charleston, South Carolina, he has spent roughly equal amounts of time cultivating his love of the natural world as a wildlife biologist and naturalist in the woods of New York, Virginia, Georgia, and Texas. It was in these areas where a profound interest and knowledge base for the herpetological world developed. Following his passion, Jordan graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology from Armstrong State University in Savannah, Georgia, where he would later serve as an instructor. With a focus on turtles and tortoises, his body of work includes field and laboratory research, in situ and ex situ conservation action plans, captive husbandry, and public outreach. Professionally and as a volunteer, Jordan has worked for, and in collaboration with, various non-profit environmental groups, state agencies, Universities, zoological institutions, chelonian conservation groups, and as an ecotour guide. It’s his life’s mission to promote conservation awareness for the turtles and tortoises of the world.

Jeff Jackson

Saturday 9:00 am, Lecturing on finding a rare Orchid in the Francis Marion u0026amp; Participating Naturalist on two Kayak trips  in the Francis Marion with Elizabeth Anderegg, Friday 1:00 – 5:00 pm and Sunday 8:00 am – 12:00 pm

Jeff Jackson was raised in Berkeley County, growing up on the lakes and in the National Forests, where he developed his love of the outdoors. He has worked as a landscape designer for almost 40 years, and 25 as an environmental consultant. He has been an active member of the South Carolina Native Plant Society  and the Charleston Chapter for many years, as well as its president. He has recently found, a previously found but long lost, orchid, exciting the local botanists.

Jennifer Kindel

Friday, 7:00 – 9:00 pm, Bats – netting demonstration and call identification

Jennifer is a SCDNR wildlife biologist focusing on bat research and monitoring. Her main duties include conducting hibernacula counts and WNS surveillance, running a summer mist netting project for Northern long-eared bats, providing WNS outreach, maintaining the SC Bat Conservation Plan and WNS Response Plans, and assisting in the management of the North American Bat Monitoring (NABat) program in SC. She grew up in Klamath Falls, Oregon, graduated from Oregon State University with a B.S. in Biology and a M.S. in Wildlife Science, and for over 10 years contributed to various avian ecology projects around the US and in Western Australia. Inspired by the sight of thousands of Mexican free-tailed bats filling the evening sky as they emerged from Carlsbad Caverns at sunset, she began working with bats as a volunteer for SCDNR in 2014 and has enjoyed bat monitoring ever since.

Jeff Kline, MD

Friday, 7:00 – 9:00 pm, speaking in coordination with Charlie Williams on Andre Michaux, the French Botanist to the King of France. He will also present the location of Michaux’s Nursery in North Charleston

BS Wake Forest University  1968

MD University of Maryland 1972

Associate Professor of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition

University of Missouri and MUSC

Practicing Gastroenterologist Charleston SC 1991-2015

Jeffrey J. Kline is a retired pediatric Gastroenterologist who is the Chairman of the Clemson Master Naturalist Event Committee and graduated from the  program in 2015. He is a past chairman for the Local Andrew Michaux Society and is a current member working on preserving the Michaux site near the Charleston Airport. He is an avid Revolutionary War student and participated in reworking of the SC and NC Revolutionary War battle sites with the National Park service. He is an active birder, butterflyer, and native plant activist.

Charles G. Lane

Friday 2:00 – 5:00 pm, Conservation Heros Panel “The History of Landscape Scale Conservation in the Lowcountry” with Raleigh West; John Girault; Ashley Demosthenes

Presentation Description: The ACE Basin project has a story.  It’s a story of vision, land, people, and determination to save one of the last great places in South Carolina – maybe the Southeast. 

The Ashepoo-Combahee-Edisto (ACE) Basin project, started in the mid-1980’s by a small group of people, has become a national model for effective collaboration and achieving tangible conservation outcomes.  It began with an idea, and an acute understanding that if we do not act to conserve the abundant natural resources in SC, they will be lost forever.

This session will describe the early leadership decisions that created the ACE Basin project, and explains the evolution of landscape-scale conservation as we know it today. 

Charles G. Lane is the managing member of Holcombe, Fair u0026amp; Lane, a land and commercial real estate firm located in Charleston, South Carolina. Charles has over 22 years of experience in the real estate industry. Charles has served on a variety of boards which include The Bank of South Carolina, The South Carolina chapter of The Nature Conservancy, Delta Waterfowl, Ducks Unlimited, Inc., Center for Humans and Nature, the South Carolina Conservation Bank and the Coastal Conservation League. He served as Chairman of The ACE Basin Task Force from it’s inception in 1989 until 2004, and again from 2008 until present. Mr. Lane received his Bachelor of Arts from Clemson University in 1977. In 1998, he was awarded the distinguished alumni award. In 2008, he received recognition as a Hero of Conservation by Field and Stream Magazine.

Lisa Lord

Saturday 9:30 am, speaking on the Diversity and Management of Wildlife in the Longleaf Ecosystem – Restoration of the Longleaf Ecosystem

BS in Wildlife Science (2001) and a MEd in Biology Education (2002) from Auburn  MS in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology from Clemson University.

Lisa is a Wildlife Biologist with The Longleaf Alliance, a regional organization focused on restoring the longleaf pine ecosystem. Lisa began her career in entomology and butterfly ecology at Callaway Gardens, GA which was followed by a position as the naturalist for Yeamans Hall in the SC Lowcountry where she worked on invasive species removal, groundcover restoration and other longleaf restoration projects. Lisa then worked for five years for The Nature Conservancy and was involved in ecological inventories, preserve management, education and outreach, longleaf pine restoration, and worked closely with private landowners with conservation easements. After her work at The Nature Conservancy, Lisa started her own natural resources consulting company and was a private consultant for several conservation organizations, land trusts, and private landowners throughout the state working on numerous land management, restoration, and conservation projects. Lisa Lord earned a University, and in August, completed an MS in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology from Clemson University. Lisa is also currently the President of the SC Native Plant Society and serves on the SC Prescribed Fire Council Steering Committee as Vice-Chair.

Billy McCord

Saturday 1:00 pm, speaking on Monarch butterflies, as well as lead a trip in to the Francis Marion to catch and tag Monarchs

Clemson BS and MS

Billy McCord is a native of Manning, South Carolina. He received both undergraduate and Master of Science degrees from Clemson University. Billy’s MS degree is in wildlife biology, and his minor field of study in both undergraduate and graduate school at Clemson was entomology.

Billy was employed as a full-time wildlife biologist, ecologist and naturalist by SC Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) and much of his professional career through dealt with the study and management of migratory fish populations His primary focus was on so-called diadromous fishes (species using both marine and fresh water during their life cycle), and including studies of Atlantic and shortnose sturgeon, American shad, American eel and river herring. He also participated in research on Atlantic coastal sharks and red drum. Billy’s later career with SCDNR focus on studies of small coastal islands within estuaries of SC where performed inventories on these 350 such islands.

Billy also has been involved with invasive species issues for years and led several projects dealing with eradication of the invasive Chinese tallow tree. He worked as part of botanical inventory teams in coastal SC as part of the Carolina Vegetation Survey. (CVS) headquartered at the University of NC. He has been an active education and has given many of lectures to schools, civic groups and other organizations. He has also led countless nature outings on similar topics and has written a number of articles forSouth Carolina Wildlife, a nationally acclaimed magazine published by the SCDNR.

Tess Moody

Sunday, 8:00 – 10:00 am, Salamanders of SC

(Bio pending)

Kim Counts Morganello

Friday, 2:00 – 4:00 pm,  “Putting Native Plants to Work” Talk u0026amp; Floating Garden Demonstration

Kim Morganello is a Clemson Extension Water Resource Agent based out of Charleston, South Carolina. Kim assist communities with implementation of education strategies to promote watershed stewardship and to reduce pollution in stormwater runoff. Kim works with commercial, technical, residential and youth audiences with a focus on site level infiltration and landscape-level best management practices. Kim coordinates two statewide programs, Carolina Clear and the  Master Rain Gardener Certification course. Kim also serves as an instructor for Master Gardener, Master Naturalist, Master Pond Manager and Post Construction BMP Inspector. Prior to coming to Clemson in 2011, Kim worked for the SCDNR as the Stewardship Biologist for the ACE Basin National Estuarine Research Reserve. Kim is a native of James Island and loves all things nature about her lowcountry home.

Tom Murphy

Friday, 4:00 – 5:00 pm, Eagle Conservation

Presentation Description: Tom Murphy, a retired biologist from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and principal investigator for the Bald Eagle Program for 33 years, will share his knowledge of the natural history of Bald Eagles in the Lowcountry.

The University of Georgia, Master’s of Science – Wildlife Biology (1971 – 1975)
University of Maryland, BS
South Carolina Nature Conservancy LaBruce Award 1992
Friend of the Refuge Award 1995
South Carolina Chapter of the Wildlife Society Lifetime Achievement Award 2007
Assoc of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and US Fish and Wildlife Service Achievement Award 2008
US Fish and Wildlife Service Endangered Species Program Recovery Champion 2008
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Meritorious Service Award 2008
Research Wildlife Biologist at LAMER Inc.
Apr 2009 – Present – 10 years 5 months
Wildlife biologist at South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (Coastal South Carolina)
Sep 1975 – Jan 2009 – 33 years 5 months
Principle Investigator for Alligator, Bald Eagle, Wood Stork,American Oystercatcher, Osprey, Colonial Nesting Wading Birds and Manatee Programs.
Active involvement in Marine Turtle, Seabird and Shorebird Programs.
2009-Present Conducting research on the behavior and population dynamics of an alligator population associated with the Tabby Links Golf Course on Spring Island, S.C.
Team Leader of the Southeastern States Bald Eagle Recovery Plan
Member of the first Marine Turtle Recovery Team
Member of the Bald Eagle Working Group
Member of the Wood Stork working Group
Member of the American Oystercatcher Working Group

Laura Murray, PhD

Friday, 2:00 – 4:00 pm, Lowcountry Research, Panel of scientists conducting research at Fort Johnson Marine Laboratory

Presentation Description: From tidal creeks and living shorelines to the offshore sea floor, hear about the current research conducted on these Lowcountry ecosystems.

Saturday, 9:00 am – 12:00 pm, “Ecology of the Salt Marsh” kayak trip

Presentation Description: Salt marshes are an integral part of the Lowcountry landscape.  They serve to buffer the uplands from storms, and are a home to many organisms.  It has been said that salt marshes are among the most productive ecosystems on earth.  This session will explore the ecology of salt marshes by kayak and an activity will demonstrate the importance of elevation to the sustainability of these wetlands. Safety Note:  Please be prepared to get wet and muddy. Old sneakers work best for walking in the marsh, but sandals tend to come off. Bring lots of water and sun protection and lets have some fun exploring salt marshes.

Dr. Laura Murray is a retired Research Professor from the University of Maryland, Center for Environmental Science (UMCES), Horn Point Laboratory.  As a marine scientist and ecologist, her expertise and interests include coastal and wetlands ecology, and plant identification. She has conducted research projects on the response of submersed aquatic vegetation to nutrient enrichment and restoration ecology techniques.  As an educator, her primary goal has been to link the scientific research conducted at UMCES with science education. She has published in both the scientific research and in the science education fields. Murray earned a B.S. degree in marine science and an M. S. T. in biology/education from the University of West Florida, and a PhD in wetlands ecology from the College of William and Mary.

Richard Porcher, PhD

Saturday, 8:00 – 9:00 am, speaking on “the Changing of the Low country Landscape”

Richard Dwight Porcher, Jr., is a native of Pinopolis in Middle St. John’s Parish, Berkeley County, South Carolina. He graduated from Berkeley High School in 1957 and the College of Charleston with a B.S. in biology in 1962. He received his PhD from the University of South Carolina in 1974 where he studied field botany under Dr. Wade T. Batson. Porcher began a thirty-three year tenure as a biology professor at The Citadel in 1970, where he also founded The Citadel Herbarium. In 1995 he published Wildflowers of the Carolina Lowcountry and Lower Pee Dee. He is senior author of Wildflowers of South Carolina published in October 2001. Porcher is presently Professor Emeritus at The Citadel, having retired in 2003. He currently is an Adjunct Full Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Clemson University where he established the Wade T. Batson Endowment in Field Botany to assist students in the study of the state’s flora and ecology. Porcher and Sarah Fick published The Story of Sea Island Cotton in 2005. Porcher presently serves as a Trustee of the South Carolina Nature Conservancy and is on the Board of Directors of the Charleston Library Society, the Waring Library, and the Carolina Gold Rice Foundation. Porcher and William Judd have a book in press on The Market Preparation of Carolina Rice and he is working on a book titled Our Lost Heritage, a history of the plantations flooded by Lake Moultrie in Berkeley County. Porcher is the 2008 recipient of the South Carolina Environmental Awareness Award.

Rick Savage

Saturday, 9:00 – 10:00 am, speaking on “The Carolina Wetlands Association: promoting the value of wetlands and the role of wetlands in climate change”

Rick started out as a systems engineer at IBM where he worked in network and system management design. He received a BS in experimental psychology and MS in systems engineering at Va. Tech.   In 1998, he left IBM to pursue his ecology dreams by getting a second master’s degree from NC State in Natural Resource Management. He got a job with the State of NC in 2004, in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Division of Water Quality, doing wetlands monitoring research for the US EPA.  The wetlands monitoring work became highly regarded by the EPA as they sent him across the nation to talk about the work and results in NC. In 2011, the EPA performed it National Wetland Condition Assessment where Rick worked with EPA scientists and other state scientists to develop the sampling protocols. In 2012, Rick was put in charge of a regional wetland assessment coordinating with SC, GA, and AL.  This work became part of the EPA report of the 2011 Natural Wetland Condition Assessment. Rick left State government in 2015 and formed the nonprofit, Carolina Wetlands Association to maintain a public focus on the value of wetlands where he was elected President and has remained in that position to the present. The organization promotes wetlands through science-based programs, education, and advocacy. He was also elected as Co-Chair of the Steering Committee of the Wetland Forest Initiative in 2016. In 2018, Rick was asked to be a part of the Governor’s Natural and Working Land workgroup to develop plans for extensive forest and wetland restoration to sequester carbon, increase our ecosystem services and increase resiliency of communities to deal with climate change.

Stephen Schabel

Sunday, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm, will lecture and have bird demonstrations

Director of education; Avian Conservation Center: the Center for the birds of prey

Education Masters in Environmental policy College of Charleston 2003

Native of South Carolina, Stephen joined the Center in 2003 after completing his M.S. degree in Environmental Policy at the College of Charleston. Prior to graduate school, he spent several years exploring various teaching opportunities outside the traditional classroom, as well as a career as an accomplished mandolin player and vocalist for a variety of groups in the Charleston area. Stephen’s background in education and environmental policy along with his lifelong passion for the outdoors -especially birds – offers a unique and relevant foundation for his role as Director of Education. Stephen oversees the care, husbandry, and training of the Center’s educational resident bird collection as well as the design and implementation of conservation educational programs offered by the Center throughout South Carolina and beyond. Stephen particularly enjoys the aspects of “lure flying” falcons and conversing one on one with visitors about issues related to the conservation of birds and other wildlife.

Brian Scholtens, PhD

Friday, 7:00 – 9:00 pm, speaking on “Getting Involved in Insect Citizen Science”,  followed by a Moth Night at the Lights (photography and submitting to iNaturalist)

Central College B.A., University of Michigan M.S. PhD

Brian Scholtens was born and raised in Iowa, where he attended Central College, receiving a B.A. in biology in 1983.  He attended the University of Michigan, receiving his Ph.D. in 1990 in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology studying with Dr. Warren Herb Wagner and Dr. Brian Hazlett.  He moved to Mt. Pleasant, SC in 1992 to become an assistant professor at the College of Charleston in the Biology Department. He is currently a professor in the department and teaches Entomology, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and Introductory Biology.  Brian also teaches Entomology or Ecology each summer at the University of Michigan Biological Station in northern Michigan and has offered courses in butterflies and moths at Humboldt Field Research Institute in Maine. His research has focused on the conservation biology of threatened and endangered insects and biodiversity surveys.  He co-coordinated the Lepidoptera part of the All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory in Great Smoky Mountain National Park, working particularly with the butterflies and Pyraloidea, and has more recently completed a moth survey (with Joe Culin, Clemson University, and John Snyder, Furman University) of Congaree National Park near Columbia, SC, and is participating in a survey of Sapelo Island, Georgia. Brian has taught a long list of people about entomology. Most now know the difference between dragonfly nymph and a salamander.  With primary research into plant- insect interactions and the faunistics (study of fauna) and systematics of the Lepidoptera

Merle Shepard, PhD

Saturday, 1:00 – 4:00 pm, speaking with Dwight Williams about their upcoming book on  – Pollinators of the South Carolina Lowcountry and the plants they use

Merle Shepard is professor emeritus of entomology with Clemson University’s Coastal Research and Education Center in Charleston, South Carolina. He earned a Ph.D. from Texas A u0026amp; M University, an M.S. degree from the University of Georgia and B.S. degree from Middle Tennessee State University. His international experiences includes five years as Head of Entomology Department, International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines, Project Director for an integrated pest management project in Indonesia for three years, a one-year sabbatical at the University of Queensland, Australia. His research focused on integrated pest management and biological control of insects that provide tactics to avoid the use of chemical insecticides. He is vice president of the Lowcountry Biodiversity Foundation.  Dr. Shepard, along with Ed Farnworth and Keith McCullough, published “Insects and Spiders of Coastal South Carolina” and is currently, along with Dwight Williams, Ed Farnworth and April Bisner, working on a book on Pollinators of the South Carolina and Georgia Lowcountry. He lives in the South Carolina Lowcountry where he has photographed insects and spiders for the past 30 years.

Tom Stephan

Naturalist and Raptor Specialist

Saturday, 4:00 – 5:00 pm, speaking about raptors, and the building of owl homes- At the end of the day he will climb a big-big tree for us and install an owl box for the Sewee Center

My knowledge caught the recognition of a local reported who approached me with the proposition to guide a group of nature enthusiasts into the canyons. To this day, I still enjoy guiding naturalists into the wild sharing with them my passion and knowledge of nature.

My interest in birds of prey began in 1962 while doing research for a my second grade wild animal report. I came across a 1940 National Geographic article written by falconer/biologists John and Jean Craighead. Their story of trapping, training and hunting with falcons captivated me and began a life long enthusiasm for raptors. My new found obsession influenced me to become a regular at a local pet shop.

During one of my daily visits I discovered that a male kestrel had been turned into the shop. To my delight, the owners gave me the bird to take home. This new friendship inspired me to search high and low to observe birds of prey. By my teen years I was an agile tree climber, climbing every eagle, hawk and owl nest tree I could find. My knowledge and skills in maneuvering up and down trees gave me an easy in to becoming a tree trimmer, and later a certified arborist.

While bidding a trimming job for an elderly lady, I noticed that she had an owl nest box hanging low in her large Sycamore rather close to her kitchen window. She mentioned that her late husband had installed the box and was disheartened that it was never occupied. I offered to properly install the box for her.

Three days later I got a call from the elderly lady. She was delighted to share with me that a pair of barn owls had begun nesting in her owl box. She repeatedly thanked me, mentioning that her late husband would have been so happy. The feelings of bringing joy to this woman gave me great pleasure. This was the first owl nest box I installed.

Now, over 23 years later I have over 30,000 under my belt! I am so grateful that my passionate hobby has led me to such a fulfilling career. I spend my days sharing my enthusiasm and knowledge of nature and its inhabitants with people around the world.

This is my definition of success.

Bill Stringer, PhD

Saturday, 4:00 – 5:00 pm, speaking on the identification of grasses

Dr. Bill Stringer, Professor Emeritus of Agronomy and Soils, retired in 2011. Dr. Stringer is passionate about native plants and gave a seminar entitled: Native Plants: Good Habitat for People and Animals to the Emeritus College faculty in 2017. He also has been bringing attention to the  decommissioning of some of the recreation areas in SC. Bill is leading the effort to preserve Parks Mill in McCormick County. This 12.8 acre site on Stevens Creek received permanent protected status through the efforts of the SC Native Plant Society, Naturaland Trust, and the Upper Savannah Land Trust.  This site is important for its large population of Rocky Shoals Spider Lily (Hymenocallis coronaria), a rare and beautiful native plant that grows in shoaly waters of Piedmont streams. It only occurs in a very few places in South Carolina, and the Parks Mill site was the last significant unprotected population in SC until 2016.  In addition, there is a historic, largely intact, but non-functional, water-powered grist mill. For more information, see http://scnps.org/activities/rocky-shoals-spider-lily-preservation-project.

Published Writing Details: Working on publishing the next issue of The Journal of The South Carolina Native Plant Society.  To see past issues, click HERE

Jennifer McCarthey Tyrell

Sunday, 8:00 – 10:00 am, will have a bird netting demonstration

Jen is Audubon South Carolina’s Bird-Friendly Coordinator, a Master Bird Bander and an expert in bird biology, with a B.S. from Coastal Carolina and a Master’s degree from the College of Charleston. Before joining Audubon, Jen worked with Wild Birds Unlimited and the Center for Birds of Prey. Today, Jen spreads the word about bird-friendly communities and the benefits of native plants, and also manages bird banding and Painted Bunting research.

Raleigh West III

Friday 2:00 – 5:00 pm, Conservation Heros Panel “The History of Landscape Scale Conservation in the Lowcountry” with John Girault; Charles Lane; Ashley Demosthenes

Presentation Description: The ACE Basin project has a story.  It’s a story of vision, land, people, and determination to save one of the last great places in South Carolina – maybe the Southeast. 

The Ashepoo-Combahee-Edisto (ACE) Basin project, started in the mid-1980’s by a small group of people, has become a national model for effective collaboration and achieving tangible conservation outcomes.  It began with an idea, and an acute understanding that if we do not act to conserve the abundant natural resources in SC, they will be lost forever.

This session will describe the early leadership decisions that created the ACE Basin project, and explains the evolution of landscape-scale conservation as we know it today. 

Raleigh West serves as the current Executive Director for the SC Conservation Bank. From 2013-2019, he acted as the Executive Director for the Lord Berkeley Conservation Trust out of Moncks Corner, SC. Prior to that, he served as an associate attorney with the law firm Haynsworth, Sinkler Boyd. He will speak on the the subject of the SC Conservation Bank. He will also speak on the topic of conservation easements, a tool that many landowners have employed to protect their farms and forests. Raleigh’s family put their 85-acre timber tract into a conservation easement in 2011, so he can also speak from the landowner’s point of view as it relates to managing protected property. Raleigh has a law degree from USC, an MBA from The Citadel, and an undergrad degree from Wofford College. He, his wife and their two children live in Columbia.

Kristina Wheeler

Friday, 2:00 – 5:00 pm, leading local Indian shell mound and ring walk 

Presentation Description: Join Kristina Wheeler, Natural History Interpretation Specialist for Charleston County Parks on a journey back in time while taking in breathtaking views of salt marsh, tidal creeks, and the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. Visit a 4,000-year old shell ring, an 800-year old clamshell mound, while traveling through three distinct plant communities. The Sewee shell mound is one of the oldest, most northern shell rings in the United States. Learn how these shell mounds, rings and middens have intrigued present-day humans and view how over time, the shells have broken down into a calcium rich soil that provides for unique native plants.  Safety First: Be prepared for warm, humid weather. Bring water and wear sunscreen, bug spray and a hat.

Kristina Wheeler was six months old when she was placed in a big ol’ Grumman canoe for her first camping trip. Through the years, she continued to prefer time outdoors and became enthusiastic about sharing her love of nature with others. She is a Charleston Master Naturalist, Certified Interpretive Guide, and a self-proclaimed “bird nerd” – just ask her what she recently added to her life list! Kristina is also an ACA Certified Coastal Kayak Instructor who has worked for outfitters in South Carolina and Belize, Central America. Kristina joined the Charleston County Park u0026amp; Recreation Commission team in the fall of 2011 and now works as the Natural History Interpretation Specialist. “In this increasingly technological world – it is critically important to provide people with ways to make more connections to the natural world – and to have the chance to do this on a daily basis, is incredibly rewarding.” Every shell, leaf, insect, and feather holds Kristina’s interest, as she is a true student of the world. She thrives off birding, camping, mountain biking, hiking or kayaking in new places. She still loves to paddle around a Grumman when she can get her hands on one!

Dwight Williams, PhD

Saturday, 1:00 – 4:00 pm,  co-leading a two hour presentation with Merle Shepard on their new book – Pollinators of the South Carolina Lowcountry and the plants they use

Dwight Williams received B.S. and M.S. degrees in animal science and entomology, respectively, from the University of Arkansas and a Ph.D. in Entomology from Louisiana State University. He was director of the University of South Carolina’s International Center for Public Health Research (the Wedge). There he conducted research and  training on the biology and control of medically-important insects and other arthropods. Following the Center’s closing, he supervised the environmental education programming and then served as director of Cypress Gardens, a Berkeley County, SC park. He currently studies pollinating insects of coastal South Carolina. He also raises native and non-native nectar plants and butterfly host plants at his business, Bottle Tree Gardening, where he is CEO and the only employee.

Charlie Williams

Friday, 7:00 – 9:00 pm, will present a live impersonation of Andre Michaux (following a lecture by Jeff Kline)

Wake forest U  B.A.

Andre Michaux was the Audubon of the plant world; Michaux had a nursery near the airport in North Charleston. He was first to describe over one hundred plants from the low country. This will follow a powerpoint presentation by Jeff Kline on Michaux.

Charlie as been instrumental in making the Michaux name prominent in the world, often being neglected because he wrote in French. He is president of the International Michaux Society.

Jake Zadik

Sunday 10:00 am -12:00 pm, onsite talk u0026amp; walk “Snakes of SC”

Jake is the Vice President of the South Carolina Herpetological Society– a volunteer run organization dedicated to fostering an appreciation of South Carolina’s amphibians and reptiles by encouraging conservation through education, outreach, and the support of research. Jake has worked with reptiles and amphibians for his entire life and has participated in several studies around the area and abroad geared towards better understanding these very misunderstood creatures. Jake currently strives to build meaningful connections between people and nature and works as an Environmental Interpreter in the Charleston Area and as a Project Coordinator for an organization that develops worldwide citizen science projects.