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Conservation, Outreach & Education

The programmatic activity of CHNS encompasses a social component of education and outreach and a conservation component comprised of initiatives directed at supporting the integrity and preservation of natural systems. Thw two come together through citizen science and volunteer activities within our community.

Bird Walks

CNHS tries to lead at least one—and often runs two or more—field trip per month during the program season. Typically, the outings chair sets the schedule 3-6 months in advance. The trip leader guides the group around the site, pointing out items of interest, especially the bird species we observe but also various plants, animals and other natural features. At the conclusion of the trip, the leader will often, but not always, compile a list of bird species that were observed during the day and later share that list (through eBird or other means).

In recent years, McAlhany preserve has also hosted local high school field trips, the Boy Scouts of America, Carolina Bird Club, the Eastern Native Grass Symposium, and the Santee Birding Festival, among many others.


The lecture series brings together members for talks by experts in various aspects of natural history. See our Calendar. Lectures run once a month from September through May.

Lowcountry Environmental Education Internship

Designed to diversify the pool of environmental educators in local institutions, this summer experiential learning internship exposes high school students to the fields of conservation biology and environmental education. By lining up meaningful partnerships with local conservation and education programs, CNHS is able to introduce interns to a diversity of habitats and the conservation skills it takes to protect them. Through education and camp experiences, the interns meet a variety of students and professionals who participate in the programs. The experience is intended to further their understanding of the connections between humans and the surrounding landscape. It is also intended to prepare the interns to help our biologists lead environmental education efforts and walks during the school year. Seniors and Songbirds

Seniors and Songbirds

Seniors and Songbirds is a partnership with Wild Birds Unlimited designed for people in assisted living and residential communities. Our volunteers provide feeders and bird baths and visit the sites to do outreach. Residents. welcome the simulation of learning about local birdlife. As we are able, we offer field guides and other materials as gifts.

Small Grants

In addition, we provide small grants of $500 - $2,000 for student research and conservation projects. Our recent contributions have included support for Masterís students research at the College of Charleston, funding for educational materials on beach-nesting birds, construction and maintenance of bluebird houses along the West Ashley Greenway, and natural history signage for an Eagle Scout project in North Charleston.

McAlhany Preserve Restoration Projects

Many of our conservation activities are focused on McAlhany preserve, a private sanctuary and refuge for native wildlife. Run by a volunteer staff and a limited budget, the preserves serves as an education, demonstration, and research site. Its 370 acres are protected in a conservation easement donated to the Lowcountry Open Land Trust and help maintain the natural character of the upper region of the ACE Basin.

We are very proud of our successful efforts to restore long-leaf pine and an ephemeral wet meadow habitat to the land, which had been diked and drained at some time in the past. Our mid-range plans for restoration on the preserve include restoring a local population of gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) and fox squirrel (Scurius niger).

Sullivanís Island Banding Station

Through a combination of scientific research and community education, Audubon South Carolina works to monitor and maintain vital migration and nesting habitat on Sullivan's Island and thus support create conservation connectivity along the Atlantic Flyway. Audubon South Carolina's biologists operate a bird banding station and conduct year round surveys to monitor declining bird populations while simultaneously providing life changing nature based experiences to community members and school children. Learn more about the Sullivan's Island Bird Banding Station of Facebook.

Monarch Migration

Like everywhere along the coast, Folly Beach is under intense development pressure, especially on the beach front. We are particularly interested in Eastern Groundsel, which blooms in mid- to late-October and coincides with the peak of the southerly monarch butterfly migration along our coast. Millions of monarchs migrate along our coastline each fall, and the butterflies are very dependent upon native wildflowers and shrubs for nectar. We work with landowners on Folly Beach to encourage them to use more wildlife-friendly landscaping techniques and selecting species that support pollinator species in particular.