Meet the Staff

Cara Schildtknecht, Waccamaw Riverkeeper

Cara Schildtknecht (shilt-neck) recently graduated with a Master’s of Science in Coastal Marine and Wetland Studies from Coastal Carolina University (CCU). She received her Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies and Bachelor of Arts in English at Shepherd University (SU) in Shepherdstown, WV. Cara has experience as a graduate assistant and teaching assistant at CCU and as a research assistant at SU. In addition, she served in the US Peace Corps in Ghana as a Natural Resource Advisor.

Cara assumes the role that Emma Gerald Boyer has held since 2015. Emma has stepped down as Riverkeeper as a result of growing her family. We're grateful to Emma for her many contributions to our foundation and thrilled to announce she is growing her family.  Emma will continue to serve our organization through May 31st, 2017 and provide volunteer and advisory support after that.






Emma Boyer, Former Waccamaw Riverkeeper







Christine Ellis, Deputy Director / River Advocate

Christine joined Winyah Rivers Foundation as the Waccamaw Riverkeeper in August 2006, replacing Hampton Shuping, Jr. who had served since June 2002. She led the organization's education and advocacy efforts until January 2014 when she was succeeded by Paula Reidhaar as Waccamaw Riverkeeper. At that time, she took on the role of River Advocate within the organization, focusing on education and advocacy in the North Carolina portion of our Winyah Bay Watershed, in the Waccamaw, Lumber and Little Pee Dee watersheds. In 2015, Christine's role was expanded to serve as Deputy Director of Winyah Rivers Foundation and help the Riverkeeper meet our organization's mission. Much work remains to be done and we must continue to keep a vigilant eye on our wonderful rivers and their riches in order to protect clean water and healthy communities.






April O'Leary, Programs Officer

April is a wash-a-shore from Cape Cod, MA currently living in beautiful Conway.  She is the proud wife of a Captain Fireman and together they have two beautiful children.  April has a Bachelor's of Arts degree in Psychology from Bay Path University and has over 20 years working in human services.  Most of her experience entails non-profit management working with underserved populations. April has a vast amount of experience in building important community partnerships, assisting in prevention and education with a focus on future sustainability.  April has been a volunteer supporting children and families who are affected by ALS/ Lou Gehrig’s disease organizations for almost 19 years.  April and her family foster for Little Paws Dachshund Rescue and in her free time she enjoys being outdoors with her family. 


Lisa Swanger, Coastal Waccamaw Watershed Education Programs Coordinator

Lisa serves a joint position as Coordinator of the Coastal Waccamaw Stormwater Education Consortium and as an environmental educator for the RIVERKEEPER® Program. She supports our education and outreach efforts including planning river cleanups, the Waccamaw Conference, the photo contest and lots more. Lisa has a Master’s Degree in Marine Resource Management from Oregon State University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and Sociology from Kutztown University of Pennsylvania. In her spare time, Lisa enjoys camping, hiking and spending time with her adorable dog, Wyatt. She is a great asset to our organization.

Riverkeeper Intern

Because of our close relationship with Coastal Carolina University and the location of our office at the Burroughs and Chapin Center for Marine and Wetland Studies, we welcome college students to intern with us and to assist in implementing our mission. We are happy to help train the next generation of conservation leaders!

To keep up with what we're up to, check out our newsletter.

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