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LCI in the News

Local TV show explains Lowcountry's natural world


By Carol Weir
The Sun City Packet
Published Wednesday, February 29, 2012

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Many local residents moved to the Lowcountry from places where the only alligators lived in zoos. To these transplants, the idea of a flying squirrel may seem like something out of a children's animated TV series--but we have them here, honest.

Several local organizations, including the Coastal Discovery Museum, offer nature lectures and presentations where interested residents can learn about the Lowcountry's plants and animals. But none is more user-friendly than the internet-based TV show "Coastal Kingdom," a series of half-hour episodes hosted by naturalist Tony Mills of the Lowcountry Institute on Spring Island.

"Coastal Kingdom" has been on the air in Beaufort County since 2009. Each episode is a virtual field trip filmed entirely in the Lowcountry and focusing on a theme: for example, "Creatures of the Night," "Winter in the Lowcountry," and "Finding a Mate.""The idea is to let people know what they have and get them psyched about it so they do a better job of taking care of the waters and lands," Mills said. The staff of "Coastal Kingdom" recently upgraded the website to allow viewers to watch all of the shows in high definition quality. The ninth episode, called "Lowcountry Predators," debuted Feb. 29.

The television series is made possible by a collaboration between the Lowcountry Institute and The County Channel of Beaufort County. "Coastal Kingdom" is produced and directed by Rob Lewis. Scott Grooms is also a producer. Gary Kubic is the executive producer. Copyright 2012 .

Join host Tony Mills as he guides viewers on journeys through some of the richest and most diverse habitats of the South Carolina Lowcountry. Get up close and personal with wildlife. See the show at


Alligators, snakes, lizards and turtles, oh my!

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Students discover a treasure trove of biodiversity when a naturalist, nature visit their schools.


“Next time you see an animal on TV, think about what it does to protect itself,” said Mills, a naturalist and the education director for the nonprofit LowCountry Institute on Spring Island. Mills believes that teaching children about the valuable, diverse ecosystem is another way to protect animals.

“There’s nothing better than educating a kid and having them educate their parents,” said Mills. “Parents tend to get a big kick out of that and they listen.” LowCountry Institute Executive Director Chris Marsh, Mills, and environmental educator Kristen Marshall Mattson also co-teach 12-week Master Naturalist classes that teach people what they need to do to be a naturalist in the Lowcountry. Several teachers, including those at H.E. McCracken Middle School and Okatie Elementary School, have gone through a special version of the class.

Click here to read more in Bluffton Today


Art and the ecosystem


Students turn science experiments into works of art


Published Monday, January 10, 2011

Hundreds of local students have spent the past few months exploring the ecosystem and translating their newfound knowledge into expressions of art.

It's all part of Beaufort County School District's participation in the international River of Words program. It aims to improve children's literacy and cognitive skills and nurture their creativity through observation-based nature exploration and the arts.

District fine arts coordinator Margaret Rushton said since the district launched the program in September, students have tested the quality of local waters, examined marine and animal life, studied the wetlands and learned how human behavior affects the environment. Then they have gone back to their classrooms to express what they've learned and how they feel about that new information through artwork and poetry.


Rushton said many of the district's teachers have gone through the master naturalist course offered by the Lowcountry Institute so they were already well-educated on the environment.

But teachers who were interested in learning more were invited to attend a teacher training day with the institute in September on Spring Island. The idea was to let the teachers learn about the Lowcountry ecosystem first so they could then teach the children.

Once the teachers felt comfortable with their knowledge of the environment, they started incorporating the River of Words program into their curriculum.

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Supporters celebrate preservation efforts


Years after Beaufort County residents worked to preserve 70 acres of Lemon Island in the face of looming development, some of the initiative's supporters were treated to a tour of the protected parcel Sunday afternoon.

Widgeon Point was open to members of the Beaufort County Open Land Trust and the Coastal Conservation League on Sunday for a guided nature walk and discussion on the importance of land conservation. The event celebrates efforts on behalf of the Open Land Trust and Beaufort County to protect ecologically sensitive property on Lemon Island, which in 2007 was being considered for development of a high-density luxury townhouse community.

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"...Chris Marsh, executive director of the Lowcountry Institute, told a group of about 50 preservation group members that county residents should be proud of how local nonprofit groups worked together to preserve the parcel..."


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