OUR MISSION: To connect residents to the habitats of coastal Georgia
and empower them to be stewards of their natural environment
OUR GOALS: Educate target audiences about native habitats.
Provide tools to empower ecologically based decision-making.
Foster a culture that values biodiversity.
Coastal WildScapes is a 501 (c)(3) organization formed in 2009 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.
L to R: Stephanie Knox, Carol Denhof, Eamonn Leonard, Raleigh Kitchen, Ashby Worley (Kay Hoffman not pictured)
ASHBY WORLEY - CHAIRMAN
Ashby Nix Worley joined The Nature Conservancy as their Coastal Climate Adaptation Director in November 2016, where she works with coastal partners and communities to bring nature-based solutions to help address coastal hazards in order to build a more resilient Georgia Coast.
Ashby has an undergraduate degree in Environmental Science from Mercer University and Master of Science Degree in Environmental Science, specializing in Wetland studies, from Louisiana State University. Ashby has worked as coastal scientist in the coastal Georgia region for over 10 years, working for the Department of Natural Resources Coastal Resources Division and the University of Georgia in conducting long term ecological research, oyster restoration, water quality monitoring and marsh studies. From 2013-2016, she served as the Executive Director of the non-profit organization Satilla Riverkeeper, where she worked with local communities on environmental outreach, education, awareness, advocacy and policy.
Ashby currently serves on the Georgia DNR’s Coastal Advisory Council and Chair of Coastal Wildscapes, a local non-profit promoting native coastal habitats. Ashby is a Certified Floodplain Manager since November 2017.
EAMONN LEONARD – Past - 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, groundcover restoration and promoting the use of native species. Eamonn sits on the Conservation Task force for Cannons Point on Saint Simons Island, past-chairman of Coastal WildScapes, chairman of the Coastal Georgia Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area, member of the Savannah Pest Risk Committee, treasurer for the Georgia Exotic Pest Plant Council, and treasurer 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.
STEPHANIE KNOX - Secretary
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.
Carol Denhof - TREASURER
Carol has worked for the Longleaf Alliance as the Understory & Media Coordinator since January 2011. In her current position, Carol is responsible for activities ranging from facilitation of longleaf ecosystem restoration to implementation and coordination of outreach and education efforts of The Longleaf Alliance. Her specific job duties include, but are not limited to, promoting development of understory plant materials for restoration, researching understory related restoration issues, providing technical assistance to landowners and natural resource professionals, developing written materials and oral presentations, developing the quarterly Longleaf Leader magazine, managing the Longleaf Alliance website, and promoting the organization through social networking media. Previously, Carol worked for eight years as the Conservation Coordinator at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. During her tenure at the Garden, Carol managed projects that focused on the conservation of rare plant species throughout the southeastern United States. Her work involved plant propagation, population reintroduction and augmentation, habitat restoration, and habitat management. Prior to her time with the Garden, Carol worked as a Plant Ecology Research Technician at the Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center in southwest Georgia where she studied the understory diversity of longleaf pine wiregrass habitat. She earned her B.S. and M.S. in Biology from Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Georgia. Carol is a native of Blakely, Georgia and currently lives on St. Simons Island with her husband and their two children.
Kay grew up in Ashtabula, Ohio on the shores of Lake Erie where she witnessed first-hand the devastating impacts of air and water pollution. She taught school for eight years after earning a B.A. in Spanish (Baldwin-Wallace College, Berea, Ohio) and M. of Ed. (Millersville University, Millersville, Pennsylvania).
Upon relocating to south central Pennsylvania (York and Lancaster) Kay worked as a paralegal for civil litigation attorneys in personal injury and medical malpractice. Subsequently, she returned to undergraduate school (York College of Pennsylvania) earning a B. S. in accounting and passing the CPA exam in Pennsylvania. She is presently a licensed CPA in Georgia.
Kay and her husband Rick have lived on beautiful Jekyll Island for fourteen years with their two step cats, Gus and Sneakers. She volunteers weekly at the Humane Society of South Coastal Georgia and is an active member of the Georgia Native Plant Society and the Florida Native Plant Society.
Simona was born and grew up in Downtown Savannah, Georgia before it had been discovered by tourists or international art students. Her roots are deep in the sands of Tybee Island, the marshes of Thunderbolt, and the blackwater rivers and swamps of Chatham, Effingham, and Bryan Counties. She is an applied ecologist and social scientist with a passion for community dialogues, appreciative inquiry, local foods and life-ways, wild places and creatures, writing and teaching, and working alongside others to imagine and create beloved community. Educated and trained as an ecologist (B.S. from UMASS-Amherst, M.M.A. from UW-Seattle) and environmental social scientist (Ph.D. from UMASS-Amherst), Simona has worked in rural and urban places across the United States to document and raise awareness of the interconnections between ecology, psychology, politics, and culture. Prior to obtaining her doctorate, Simona worked as senior editor for an on-line news organization, directed a non-profit international biodiversity education organization, and as a field biologist, environmental regulator, and policy analyst with NOAA Fisheries in Massachusetts, Seattle, California, and Maryland.
She has published articles, book chapters, and blogs on a wide range of topics related to ocean and endangered species conservation and policy, the psychological and socio-cultural consequences of extractive industries in rural communities, the human rights aspects of fossil fuel developments and climate change, and actions for racial equity, justice, and reparations in the southeast U.S. In 2009 she was awarded a Mellon Foundation Postdoctoral Scholar appointment at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, and in 2011 became a National Science Foundation Research Scientist with RPI’s Science and Technology Studies Program in Troy, New York.
Prompted by her groundbreaking work with frontline communities, in 2012 Simona founded c.a.s.e. Consulting Services with a mission to provide asset-based training and strategic communication services to individuals, communities, and organizations directly impacted by rapid social and environmental change or conflict. Simona also serves as the Communications & Impact Coordinator for the Lexington, Kentucky based non-profit Livelihoods Knowledge Exchange Network (LiKEN).
Simona returned to her Savannah home in 2015 where she lives with her husband and two dogs. Locally, she serves on the Board of Directors of Wilderness Southeast, Mulberry Grove Foundation, and Oceans Connect, is a member of the Vestry at The Collegiate Church of St. Paul the Apostle, and the Which Way Savannah Coalition and Drumfolk Shout + Music Society.
A military brat, Erin grew up in many places but has long considered Georgia home. She completed her M.S. in Wildlife Ecology from The University of Georgia in 2019, where her master’s research focused on habitat associations and management considerations for rare amphibians in longleaf pine communities. She has worked on amphibian conservation projects since 2013, which is around the same time she began to take an interest in the native plant communities that she regularly wandered or waded through in South Georgia’s forests, wetlands, and sandhills. She previously served as a wetland and wildlife consultant on the Oconee Rivers Greenway Commission in her hometown of Athens, Georgia and as the Newsletter Editor of the Gopher Tortoise Council. She is currently the Conservation Director for the Coastal Plain Chapter of the Georgia Native Plant Society and is working to develop a coastal chapter of the citizen-science amphibian monitoring program FrogWatch. As a wildlife biologist with Georgia DNR’s Private Lands Program, Erin provides technical assistance to private landowners interested in improving or creating wildlife habitat in their forests, farms, and backyards.
A recent transplant to the coast, she enjoys exploring the many natural areas in her new part of the state, photographing tiny things, inventorying her backyard wildlife, mediating terrier-wildlife disputes, and gardening with native plants.
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 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 and a Human Biology and Environmental Science class for Columbia College (Ft. Stewart and Hunter Army Air Force Base). She currently works as the science department chair and full-time instuctor at Point University teaching Anatomy & Physiology I & II, Chemistry I & II, Biology I & II, Physical Science, and Environmental Science. In addition, she teaches Principles of Biology I & II at South University and several Biology classes at St. Leo 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 in the summer 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.
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.
After graduation, Raleigh worked over six years as the lead Naturalist on Sea Island where she ran the sea turtle conservation program on the island as well as many wildlife education programs for guests and members. Today, Raleigh works in membership and educational outreach for the St. Simons Land Trust. There, she is able to inspire others to conserve, protect and connect important lands and waters on St. Simons.
Raleigh lives on St. Simons Island and enjoys spending her free time with her husband as well as romping through the maritime forests of our barrier islands with camera in tow.
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.
Christa Frangimore Hayes
Christa enjoys helping local communities interpret and enjoy natural habitats and wildlife. Studying butterflies and their relationship to native plants and habitats engages much of her time. She currently lives on St. Catherines Island chasing butterflies, sedges and grasses.
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. Christa then served as science and non-fiction acquisitions editor for the University of Georgia Press and later as Assistant Faculty at the Fanning Institute at the University of Georgia where she developed programming for the Institute for Georgia Environmental Leadership. For the past eight summers, she has enjoyed teaching coastal plants to students during the University of the South Sewanee summer ecology program on St. Catherines Island.
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.