Part museum, part zoo, part library and part classroom, The Nature Center is arguably one of the most exciting spots on Spring Island. With aquariums, terrariums, taxidermied species and a touch table, this awesome showcase wows kids from 2 – 82. Archeology, geology, animals and plants are all on display and ready to inspire visitors to The Nature Center.


  • Numerous educational programs including: bird seminars, kayak guided tours, nocturnal forays into the preserve
  • Live: reptiles, amphibians, fish
  • Taxidermy: fox, deer, river otter, fox squirrels
  • 12 week Master Naturalist program through Clemson University


Dr. Chris Marsh Education Director Became Executive Director of the Spring Island Trust in 1998. Over the years, Chris has drawn on his unique background – college professor, wildlife researcher, education reformer – to create an environment where nature lovers and lifelong learners thrive. He has also managed to assemble a top-notch team of professional naturalists.
Karl Ohlandt Landscape Ecologist Helps residents promote high-quality habitat on their homesites through the management and use of native plant materials. Prior to joining the Spring Island Trust in early 2007, Karl gained valuable experience working with a community association while employed by an environmentally-sensitive, barrier island community for 13 years. He has undergraduate degrees in Biology and Horticulture, and a Masters degree in Landscape Architecture. Karl represents the environmental interests of the Spring Island Trust while serving on the Habitat Review Board and Stewardship Committee. Karl also provides leadership for the volunteer-run Native Plant Project, which rescues and propagates native plants for use in landscaping. As part of this project, Karl educates the community on the importance of native plants to the health of the island habitat.
Tony Mills Education Director Ran the University of Georgia’s environmental program at Savannah River Ecology Lab for 20 years before joining the Spring Island team in 2007. Tony’s current duties include co-teaching the Master Naturalist program, producing educational programs for local schools and leading field trips and teacher workshops. He writes a newspaper column on plants and animals of the Lowcountry and co-wrote the book “Lizards and Crocodilians of the Southeast” (UGA press June 2009). He also hosts and co-produces “Coastal Kingdom” a local television series about animals and plants of the Lowcountry. Although Tony spends a major portion of his time teaching and writing, he continues his fieldwork with animals and plants of the southeast. Past research trips have taken him on excursions into the jungles of Mexico and Costa Rica to conduct studies on snakes and lizards and into the Everglades of South Florida to collect introduced pythons and endangered crocodiles.

Kristen Marshall Mattson

Environmental Educator

Taught college biology for two years prior to working on Spring Island. Kristen received a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science and Spanish from Stetson University in 2005 and went on to study at the University of Florida where she received a master’s degree in Interdisciplinary Ecology in 2006. Kristen joined the Lowcountry Institute in August 2008 and has quickly become an integral part of the Spring Island team. She conducts educational programs for students, teachers, and Beaufort County residents, co-teaches the Master Naturalist program, and cares for the many critters in LCI’s live animal collection.

Whitfield Marshall

Habitat Management Technician

Whitfield grew up in Lancaster, SC and has always loved outdoor recreation such as fishing and camping. He graduated from Clemson University in 2012 with a degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology and a minor in Parks and Protected Areas Management.

Before coming to Spring Island in September of 2015, Whitfield had a series of interesting experiences with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the South Carolina State Park Service and Clemson University. His work took him to Johnston Atoll, a U.S. unincorporated territory in the Pacific Ocean, the Ten Thousand Islands and Florida Panther National Wildlife Reserves and several South Carolina State Parks.

Whitfield works with Landscape Ecologist Karl Ohlandt in the day-to-day management activities of the Spring Island Trust such as prescribed burns, pond monitoring, organizing volunteer days, as well as field and trail management. He is particularly impressed by the Great Salt Pond, which is a healthy fishery that serves as a recreational resource for Members and is also aesthetically beautiful. He also enjoys the opportunity to do hands-on management and is very interested in the Trust’s Native Plant Project.

Lisa Gravil Executive Assistant Lisa grew up in Augusta, GA and has lived in the Lowcountry since 1976. Lisa’s work as the Executive Assistant for the Spring Island Trust began in September of 2000. Among her many duties is to insure the smooth operation of the office and the Nature Center. Lisa’s kindness, good humor and enthusiasm are contagious. She is very understanding of Members and their needs and is always warm and welcoming to all who come to the Nature Center. Lisa loves working in such a beautiful community with interesting people and a great staff. Lisa is married to Paul Gravil, who has participated in the deer management program for over 16 years.
Rachel Walman Naturalist Rachel came on board in fall 2015. Her primary responsibilities are related to environmental education for the public. These include maintaining the Coastal Kingdom websites, handling all the correspondence with children and teachers, shooting “B roll” for the program, and promoting Coastal Kingdom with the public. She uses her technology skills and experience with handling wildlife to provide logistical support at the Nature Center and for other LCI education programs. Rachel is a native of Pittsburgh and graduated from Juniata College with a B.S. in environmental science and anthropology. Her college program included coursework in marine science in India. From 2013-2015 she worked as an educator at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island. Prior to that she worked for four months at the Ruaha Elephant Project in Tanzania where she developed an education curriculum and taught at the rural schools in the area.

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Spring Island Realty
38 Mobley Oaks Lane | Okatie, SC 29909