Winyah Rivers Alliance Team


Debra Buffkin, Executive Director

Debra had the ideal upbringing in South Carolina to instill the love of nature in her heart. Her family home is on the Little Pee Dee River in Marion County and the family farm is in rural Horry County. Each has taught her to love and appreciate the Earth and all its inhabitants. Debra is a graduate of Coastal Carolina University with a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies – Environmental Policy and Legal Studies and a Minor in Environmental Studies. She completed an Environmental Studies program and Internship with the Washington Internship Institute in Washington, DC.  Debra is a notary public with an extensive background in nonprofit organizations and legal services. She is a proud mother of two and a member of the Horry Chapter of Wildlife Action, Inc., the Mullins Lions Club, and Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church in Nichols. Debra is adamant about protecting our Winyah River systems and keeping them fishable, swimmable, and drinkable for future generations.

Contact Debra…

Christine Ellis, Deputy Director

Christine joined Winyah Rivers as the Waccamaw Riverkeeper in August 2006. In the ensuing years she has taken on the role of River Advocate in North Carolina’s Lumber River Basin, Winyah Rivers Alliance’s Deputy Director and then Executive Director. Christine has returned to her role as Deputy Director, providing support for the future successes of Winyah Rivers Alliance. Christine has an MS in Environmental Management and a BS in Zoology (Biology).

Contact Christine…

Cara Schildtknecht, Waccamaw Riverkeeper

Cara joined Winyah Rivers as the Waccamaw Riverkeeper in May 2017. She leads the organization’s education and advocacy efforts in the Waccamaw watershed in both North and South Carolina. Cara is a graduate of Coastal Carolina University’s Master’s of Science in Coastal Marine and Wetland Studies program and earned her BS – Environmental Studies & BA – English at Shepherd University (SU) in Shepherdstown, WV.

Contact Cara…

Jefferson Currie II, Lumber Riverkeeper

Jeff joined Winyah Rivers in August 2018 to watch over the Lumber River watershed in North and South Carolina. In November 2018, Jeff officially became the Lumber Riverkeeper. Jeff is a member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina and a native North Carolinian. Jeff has a BA in American Indian Studies from UNC-Pembroke and has completed the coursework for a Master of Arts in Folklore at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Contact Jeff…

Erin Donmoyer, Black-Sampit Riverkeeper

Erin joined Winyah Rivers in March 2022 to watch over the Black River and Sampit River watersheds in South Carolina and n June 2022 became a licensed Riverkeeper. Erin’s programs include community engagement in water quality monitoring, river cleanup efforts, advocacy to prevent pollution, and land conservation partnerships including our Rocky Point Community Forest property and the broader Black River Water Trail and State Park Network. Prior to over two decades in the far north of Alaska and Vermont, she grew up in South Carolina, exploring the rivers and cypress swamps near her family farm on the banks of the Old Pee Dee River. Erin is a graduate of Alaska Pacific University holding double BS degrees in Environmental Science and Marine Biology.

Contact Erin…

Dylan Coleman, Pee Dee/Lynches Rivers Project Coordinator

Dylan is a native of South Carolina where he grew up along the Great Pee Dee River in Marion County. He is a Coastal Carolina University alumnus, graduating in 2021 with a BA in History. Dylan also completed a minor in Pre-law and has future plans to pursue a degree and career in law.

Dylan serves as the spokesperson for the Great Pee Dee, Little Pee Dee, and Lynches Rivers. Dylan will coordinate community projects for water quality monitoring and river and landing cleanups. He will also lead education and advocacy efforts on the Pee Dee and Lynches River watersheds.

Contact Dylan…


Dan Scheffing, Contract Forester

Dan is a registered professional forester, a member of the South Carolina Forestry Association and the Society of American Foresters. With extensive experience in forestry and wildland management, Dan serves as our contract forester at Winyah Rivers Alliance’s Rocky Point Community Forest on the Black River.

Riverkeeper Intern

Because of our close relationship with Coastal Carolina University and the location of our office at the Coastal Science Center, 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!


President – Dan Hitchcock of Pawley’s Island, SC

Vice President – Richard Moore of Pawley’s Island, SC

Treasurer – Michelle Lewis of Kingstree, SC

Secretary – Amy Hill of Conway, SC

Tom Badgett of Conway, SC

April Cain of Whiteville, NC

Reggie Daves of Conway, SC

Betty Gause of Conway, SC

David Shane Lowry of Lumberton, NC

Dana Shields of North Myrtle Beach, SC

Clay Swenson of Calabash, NC

Matt Varnadore of Conway, SC

We are grateful to Martha Smith and James Vaught for their service on the Board of Directors of Winyah Rivers Alliance…thank you!

We invite you to join us!  Please complete the linked form, Board Member Responsibilities and Application.

Contact our Board of Directors…

Winyah Rivers Alliance

P.O. Box 554
Conway, SC 29528
843 .349 .4007

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