Coastal WildScapes is a 501 (c)(3) organization formed in 2008 to address the increasing need to educate and engage the public in practices that will preserve the biodiversity of the Georgia coast. We are run by an all volunteer board and one part time staff person.
The mission of Coastal WildScapes is to actively preserve and restore the highly significant biodiversity of Southeastern coastal ecosystems by protecting existing native habitats, rebuilding the connectivity of impaired habitats and minimizing the future fragmentation of the coastal landscape. We have three overarching strategies to accomplish our mission:
Education Outreach - provide and facilitate presentations to professional organizations, civic groups, garden clubs, schools, non-profits, and commercial entities.
Conservation Initiatives - provide volunteers in partnership with other organizations to protect and rebuild habitats.
Grassroots Activities - stimulate opportunities to expand involvement and awareness of critical coastal issues.
Back row: Thomas Angell, Ashby Worley, Raleigh Nyenhuis, Stephanie Knox, & Bob Claxton. Front row: Christi Lambert, Janet Ritter Yeager, Aimee Gaddis, Sally Revoile, Linda Lamb, & Eamonn Leonard, (Jessica Warren, Jessica Gorman, Scott Coleman & Christa Hayes -not Pictured)
Eamonn Leonard – Board Chairman
Eamonn born and raised in Huntsville, Alabama earned a BS in Horticulture (2000) from Auburn University. Worked at the J.W. Jones Ecological Research Center at Ichauway, then for the USGS in Idaho before attending graduate school at Utah State University and obtained an MS in Plant Ecology (2007) with a focus on invasive species. Eamonn currently works with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and completed a habitat mapping project that covered the 11 coastal counties of Georgia. Eamonn is now working on projects focused on assessment and management of invasive species on state lands in coastal Georgia and promoting the use of native species. Eamonn sits on the Conservation Task force for Cannons Point on Saint Simons Island, chairman of Coastal WildScapes, chairman of the Coastal Georgia Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area, vice chair of the Savannah Pest Risk Committee, treasurer for the Georgia Exotic Pest Plant Council, and secretary for the Coastal Plain Chapter of the Georgia Native Plant Society.
Eamonn currently resides in downtown Brunswick and enjoys being out in nature as much as possible be it hiking, camping, kayaking, or gardening.
RALEIGH NYENHUIS - VICE CHAIRMAN
Board Member Raleigh grew up in a family that loved being outside, whether that was a stroll down to the local pier at night or camping and hiking in the North Carolina mountains. Being raised this way sparked a passion for the great outdoors at a very young age. Growing up on St. Simons Island, she was always intrigued by the natural surroundings of our beautiful coastline.
Raleigh graduated from the University of Georgia in May 2013 with a BS in Ecology. Her time studying in Athens, as well as internships and jobs during that time solidified her desire to find a job in a field where she could let her passions of conservation and education soar.
Raleigh now works as a naturalist on Sea Island where she has the opportunity to reach out to many different people and educate them about the native flora and fauna of coastal Georgia. Some of her major responsibilities as a naturalist involve conserving and protecting the sea turtle species that nest on Sea Island’s beach every summer, taking groups of people on eco tours of the island, and educating children in camp about many local plants and animals.
She hopes to continue educating others about the southeastern coastal ecosystems for years to come and to spark in others the same passion that began in her so long ago.
STEPHANIE KNOX - TREASURER
Born and raised in Narberth, Pennsylvania about 2 minutes west of Philadelphia. I grew up camping, fishing, and hiking with my family. I attended Delaware Valley College in Doylestown, PA where I studied Wildlife Conservation and Management and obtained my Bachelors of Science in Animal Biotechnology and Conservation.
After graduation in 2008, I completed an internship through the Student Conservation Association conducting Piping Plover and American Oystercatcher breeding monitoring at Sandy Hook Recreational Area in Sandy Hook New Jersey. This position provided me the skills to obtain an internship with Little St. Simons Island conducting breeding monitoring of the American Oystercatcher in May 2010.
This internship became a full time position as the Ecological Management Technician under Ecological Manager, Scott Coleman. I was fortunate to work and live there for 3.5 years where I conducted research, coordinated with visiting researchers, worked on wildlife management, and coordinated volunteers.
January 2014, I began my current position as Cannon’s Point Preserve Manager with the St. Simons Land Trust. In my current position, I am working to maintain and enhance the coastal communities of the preserve through groundbreaking research, such as maritime forest restoration, exciting archaeological surveys, and the installation of a demonstration living shoreline with various partners, many of whom sit on the various task forces and are advisors to the preserve management. The preserve is designed to be a platform for education and allows the general public to experience the coastal communities through field trips and self-exploration, while also being a great conservation model for coastal Georgia.
Thomas Angell is a native of Savannah, Georgia and a graduate of the School of Environmental Design at the University of Georgia. In 1995, after seven years as a Landscape Architect in the firm of Robert Marvin & Associates, he founded his own firm, Verdant Enterprises. He specializes in ecologically-sensitive environmental design, landscape architecture, and site planning.
In addition to the Coastal WildScapes board, he was a founding member of the Walterboro Tree Protection Committee and has served on several architectural review boards in the area. He is also a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects, the South Carolina Native Plant Society, the Lake and Watershed Association, the Exotic Plant Council, the Coastal Conservation League and the Nature Conservancy.
Thomas is an avid gardener and lectures frequently on the subject of native plants. He has been a featured speaker at the Georgia Southern Botanical Gardens, University of Georgia, the Cullowhee Native Plant Conference, and at numerous Garden Clubs and Master Gardener classes.
Janet Ritter Yeager
Board Member Janet has lived in Texas, California, Germany, but spent most of her life in Kentucky. Janet and her husband, Mark moved to Harris Neck, Georgia 5 years ago. Janet has been a nurse for 40 years and currently works full time at Hospice Savannah. She has volunteered for several environmental organizations in California including Save the Stanislaus River and Sierra Club.
Since moving to Georgia, she has been active with Coastal WildScapes for four years and is the recipient of the 2013 Volunteer of Year Award. She also volunteers as a botanical guardian, has helped monitor wood storks and sea turtles for the Harris Neck Wildlife Refuge and has worked with Monarch counts and Keep McIntosh Beautiful.
Janet believes nothing is more enjoyable than being outside learning about everything we have to offer here on the coast of Georgia. We have incredible opportunities to observe, learn and preserve these natural wonders for our grandchildren.
Aimee Gaddis grew up in Covington, Louisiana, a low lying swampy area of southern Louisiana about 40 miles north of New Orleans. Her love for the out of doors began at a young age playing in the coastal marshes and red hills of Louisiana.
She moved to Georgia in 1987 an attended Lassiter High School in the Atlanta area. She attended college at Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville. This environment provided a planform for her passion for native plants and interruptive guide skills in the nature environment. She was a docent at the Old Governor’s Mansion and work with school in the area to teach them the uses on native plants just as the Native American’s had uses for medicinal sources.
Aimee moved to Coastal Georgia in 1998. She was employed for three years at University of Georgia Marine Extension Service; this opportunity introduced her to working on the water. She collected water quality samples in all of the five major coastal rivers and in the eight coastal sound systems.
In 2001 she joined the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve as the Stewardship Coordinator. In this position, she helped create a CWS native garden as a demonstration garden for visited to see while touring the island and Reserve. Aimee is presently employed with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Coastal Resources Division. She has two children and enjoys playing in the coastal marshes of McIntosh County.
Sally is working toward converting her home landscape to comprise nearly all native plants. She is a GA-trained Master Gardener, was named Wild Gardener of the Year in 2008 by the Wild Garden Project, and has had her backyard meadow featured in some local publications. Her native plant volunteer activities include serving as landscaper for the Brunswick church she attends, developing a meadow at the Brunswick Ashland Chemical Co, and planning a native plant screen at Morningstar (former Boys Estate).
In her working days, Sally was a scientist studying Speech Perception by the Hard of Hearing, first at a VA hospital and later at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. Her research at Gallaudet was supported by unsolicited grants she wrote, funded by NIH.
Bob Claxton is a native Savannahian who grew up playing on the beach at Tybee Island and in the marshlands around Chatham County. He worked in the insurance business in Atlanta for forty years and recently retired as a Commercial Underwriting Vice President for a multinational company . Bob and his wife Nancy moved to McIntosh County in 2014 and have immersed themselves in small town living and volunteerism. Bob has been active with his Homeowners Association and Sapelo Hammock Golf Club, has kickstarted and promoted a community wide social media site, and participated in numerous other civic activities. He is an avid photographer and several of his coastal and community photos have appeared in area publications. He and his wife are passionate travelers---both domestic and abroad. Bob's other interests include kayaking, bicycling, hiking, and exploring remote and hidden natural environments of South Georgia and North Florida.
Jessica serves as the University of Georgia Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent and County Extension Coordinator for Camden County. Jessica has a Bachelor’s of Science in Forest Resources with a concentration in Wildlife and a Master’s of Natural Resources with a focus on Conservation Education, both from the University of Georgia. Her previous work experience includes working for the University of Tennessee’s Tree Improvement Program as a Research Associate funded by a National Science Foundation grant, teaching Environmental Science and Natural Resources in the Georgia Governor’s Honors Program, and a graduate assistantship at Athens-Clarke County Public Utilities creating and implementing a county-wide K-12 water conservation education program and curriculum. Her work with Extension includes water quality and monitoring initiatives, education on pollinator protection in relation to pesticide use, and invasive species education and removal initiatives in addition to her regular duties. Jessica sits on many other boards and committees including the Coastal Georgia Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area, Georgia Adopt-A-Stream state board, Camden County and St. Marys joint Community Rating System Program for Public Information, College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences statewide water committee, Development Authority of St. Marys, Georgia Association of Natural Resource Extension Professionals Southeast District Director, and Georgia Association of County Agricultural Agents Aquaculture/Sea Grant state chair.
Information coming soon...
Education Outreach Coordinator
Amy loves spending time in nature, photographing, hiking, biking, and exploring with her two beautiful daughters and husband. She is particularly fascinated with the flora and fauna of our coastal environment and our human impact on it. Amy’s undergraduate degree is in Environmental Studies and her graduate degree is in Biology; both degrees are from Youngstown State University (YSU).
Amy moved to Georgia from Ohio six years ago and has been enjoying it ever since! Before moving to Georgia, Amy was a naturalist at Mill Creek MetroParks (MCP) in Youngstown, OH for over seven years. At MCP, Amy conducted hikes, kayaks, bike rides, programs and workshops covering the flora and fauna of the park for children and adults. She also assisted in land development plans and invasive species control. She has also served as a web editor for the Environmental Protection Agency, Region 9 in San Francisco, CA and as an environmental scientist for Environmental Services & Consultants in Youngstown, OH. As a consultant, Amy conducted Phase I and Phase II Environmental Site Assessments (ESA’s), environmental remediations, and wetland delineations.
Amy just successfully completed work on a two year grant Coastal Incentive Grant from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources at Savannah State University (SSU) as a lab manager/research assistant in the Marsh Vegetation Research Lab (MVRL) in the Department of Natural Sciences. At SSU, Amy conducted research on the biology of smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora), the dominant grass found in salt marshes in the Southeast.
Amy has taught high school Advanced Placement Biology at Youngstown State University (YSU) and has had several contract positions through YSU teaching elementary students about nature. She taught an Environmental Science course at Central Texas College (Ft. Stewart and Hunter Army Air Force Base) and a Principles of Biology course at the Savannah campus of the University of Phoenix. Amy has also taught a General Biology course and lab at Savannah State University. She currently teaches Human Biology and Environmental Science for Columbia College (Ft. Stewart and Hunter Army Air Force Base), Environmental Science and Biology with associated Labs at Point University, and Principles of Biology I & II at South University
Amy also served as the lead botanist for an invasive species Bioblitz at Ft. Pulaski National Monument in the Fall of 2013 and volunteered inSummer of 2014 for the Caretta Research Project, monitoring nesting loggerhead sea turtles on Wassaw Island National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia. More recently, she helped to plant native groundcover for a restoration project of a longleaf pine / wiregrass community at Wormsloe Plantation in Savannah.
Amy has proudly served as a part-time Education Outreach for Coastal WildScapes since 2014.
MEET OUR Advisory Committee
Ashby Nix was named the Satilla Riverkeeper in May 2013 and works with the board of directors, Satilla Riverkeeper members and volunteers from across the 4000 square mile watershed to protect and restore the habitat and flow of the Satilla River from its headwaters to the Atlantic Ocean, a distance of some 235 miles. The dark water Satilla has been increasingly threatened by agricultural runoff, invasive species, loss of habitat, and increased pollution creating impaired water quality. The organization serves as the eyes and ears of the watershed and are the first responders when something is wrong. The organization also works with partner organization to encourage the protection and conservation of wetlands and important habitats along the Satilla River.
Though Ashby is not from South Georgia originally, she is highly familiar with the coast of Georgia. Her father is from Jesup and her mother is from Brunswick, and her parents’ love of nature is what introduced her to the outdoors and her interest in it. She has worked for the UGA Marine Extension Service conducting coastal water quality monitoring and oyster reef restoration and the UGA Marine Institute on Sapelo Island as a research technician for the Long Term Ecological Research program. She has worked on various projects focusing on sea level rise and its impacts on tidal freshwater marshes and mapping coastal vegetative habitats in Georgia. Ashby has a Bachelors Degree in Environmental Science from Mercer University and a Masters Degree in Science in Environmental Science, focusing on wetland sciences, from Louisiana State University.
Ashby spends much of her free time exploring and experiencing nature in the region, often kayaking many of South Georgia’s beautiful rivers and her favorite spot, the Okefenokee Swamp.
Christa Frangimore Hayes
Christa spends her time photographing coastal butterflies and exploring their relationship to native plants. She has a background in conservation management, fine art and ecology. She currently lives on St. Catherine’s Island, is adjunct faculty with the University of the South Sewanee, and avid advocate for protecting coastal habitats and wildlife.
Christa obtained a Bachelor of Visual Arts at Georgia State University in 1976 followed by an Assistantship in Traditional Art Glass Techniques at Atelier Fanjat, Lyon, France from 1977-79. In 2002, She completed her formal studies by obtaining a Master of Science Degree in Conservation and Sustainable Development from the Institute of Ecology at the University of Georgia. From 2003-2005 Christa was the science and non-fiction acquisitions editor for the University of Georgia Press. She then broadened her scope of knowledge as Assistant Faculty at the Fanning Institute at the University of Georgia where she developed programming for the Institute for Georgia Environmental Leadership.
Christi has lived near and loved Georgia’s rivers her whole life. She is from the ridges and valleys of the Coosa River system in Northwest Georgia. Her involvement with The Nature Conservancy started early when she was monitoring rare plants and communities along the Coosa River in the Conservancy preserve adjacent to her college campus. Through her studies and work, she also has come to know and love the Altamaha and Savannah rivers.
Now with more than 20 years of river conservation behind her, Christi works to care for all the watersheds in Georgia that flow to the Atlantic Ocean, as well as the seascapes created by the merging of the land and sea. On a daily basis she works with landowners, communities, water managers, agencies and industries to protect the health of the state’s rivers by changing the way they think about the rivers and dispelling the perception of water as an unlimited resource.
Through a life of becoming so attuned to the needs of the rivers in Georgia, Christi is able to share her vast knowledge with other states and countries, such as traveling to Peru to work with communities along the Amazon River. Her work is all about the interface between the freshwater rivers and the ocean and coastal areas — and then also the relationship between communities and these resources. She is often surprised about how little people know about the rivers right outside their doors.
Christi currently lives in McIntosh County, Ga., where she looks out her office window onto the beautiful coastal views and is able to reflect each day on what she is working to protect. In addition to exploring rivers and coastal areas even in her free time, Christi enjoys cooking and birding. She is also interested in learning about the local vernaculars of the places she travels. She loves that the culture, folklore, architecture, foods and arts, such as pottery and basket-making, often represent the area’s natural environment.
Linda is a retired science teacher and who now lives in McIntosh County. She has a BS and MS degree in Biology and Science Education respectively from Georgia State University. She taught in the DeKalb County schools for 30 years. Almost all of the time was spent teaching at Fernbank Science Center and the Fernbank Museum of Natural History in Atlanta where she developed and taught courses in anatomy and physiology for high school students and ecology and natural sciences for middle and elementary students. While at Fernbank she also co-authored and taught elementary school classes in Vermicomposting, Venomous Snakes of Georgia and Marvelous Monarch Migration. She served as the Chairperson of the Wild Garden Project for four years and is a member of the Monarchs Across Georgia Steering Committee. She is one of the founding members of a new non-profit, Coastal WildScapes, which is exclusively dedicated to preservation and restoration of native coastal habitats. Linda is passionate about native plants and the concepts of sustainability, stewardship of the land, ecosystem services and coastal habitats.
Scott represents the 4th generation in his family to pursue a career in natural resources. He grew up in Fort Gaines, Georgia, where he spent his formative years learning many intricacies of the natural world from his grandfather, a renowned botanist and horticulturist. Scott graduated from the University of Georgia in 2005 with a degree in Wildlife Biology. While in college Scott gained a variety of experiences working at The State Botanical Garden of Georgia, Callaway Gardens and The Jones Ecological Research Center at Ichauway. He began working on Little St. Simons Island in early 2006 as a naturalist and by the end of 2007 his job had evolved to ecological manager for the island.
In his current role, Scott works to maintain, enhance and restore the natural ecological communities and wildlife populations on the 10,000 acre island. He has led the development of a 50-year conservation plan for Little St. Simons Island and is leading the transition of the island into a model for conservation management. His responsibilities include coordinating the island’s research, monitoring, restoration and natural resource management. Scott also manages a wide range of partnerships with public and private conservation organizations, and these conservation partners have roles with many ongoing projects on the island. Some of these projects include a nest and incubation project with American Oystercatchers, using fire management as a tool to maintain some of the rarest plant communities in coastal Georgia, mist netting to learn more about the island’s bat populations, assessing altered salt marshes to work towards restoration, and eliminating exotic/invasive species on the island. Scott has also headed up a project to implement native plant landscaping and habitat restoration around the island’s lodge accomodations and to develop a volunteer program to maintain these areas.
Scott also serves on the Jekyll Island Authority’s conservation committee and is part of a project to ensure the protection and conservation of the Cannon’s Point property on St. Simons Island. He is particularly interested in engaging the local public through educational events and hands on volunteer projects to help build a culture of conservation in our coastal community. Scott is the liaison between Coastal WildScapes and the UGA Native Plant Certification program.
Scott is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Wildlife Biology through the University of Georgia and plans to incoporate habitat restoration into his research project, looking at ways to assess altered marshes before restoration.