Our Team

The people behind the Preserve.

More Than a Passion Project

To bring a project like the Black River Cypress Preserve to life, it takes a group of people who truly believe in the value of our natural spaces, committed to preserving their beauty and increasing their accessibility for generations to come. Guided by the generosity of the Butler Conservation and its operating division Park Builders International (PBI), our team is made up of passionate conservationists, educators, and wildlife experts, each contributing a vital role to the evolution of the Preserve.

Butler Conservation/Park Builders International (BC/PBI)

The Butler Conservation/Park Builders International (BC/PBI) is a private foundation dedicated to the conservation and protection of the natural environment, advancing environmental education, and offering outdoor recreation especially to young people. Established in 1988, the BC/PBI’s work is centered on the concept of “legacy conservation,” targeting its support to six “legacy geographies” in North America, South America, and Africa. Each offers unique natural beauty, ecological significance, and opportunities for recreation.

One of these designated geographies, the South Carolina Scenic Black River is a classic Southeastern blackwater river, flowing through hardwood forests to a coastal landscape of salt-marsh estuaries and barrier islands. BC/PBI’s dedication to conservation in South Carolina stems from Gilbert Butler’s long-standing love for the state’s rivers and coastal waters.

Our Team

Jonathan Keyser

Jonathan Keyser

Executive Director

Some of Jonathan’s earliest memories are of wandering around in the woods of the Alleghany Highlands of Virginia with his three dogs. He enjoyed exploring the outdoors and climbing as many trees as possible.

Over the past twenty years, Jonathan has merged his two passions and college majors (History and Horticulture) into his work as a landscape designer and consultant while working on many historic properties. Since 2016, he has been intimately involved with the creation of the Black River Cypress Preserve as project manager and now serves as its executive director.  Email Jonathan at [email protected].

Dylon Tilton

Grounds Supervisor And Property Caretaker

Raised near the Black River Cypress Preserve, Dylon is a self-taught student of botany. Growing up, his grandmother was always in the garden, and his grandfather, “Pappy,” a forester, would bring saplings home for young Dylon to plant, nurture, and grow. One of these saplings, a Red Cedar, is now 30′ tall. These vivid experiences fueled the passion Dylon now brings to his work at the Preserve. As Grounds Supervisor and Property Caretaker, he is hands-on with the care and maintenance of the property while getting great joy from working outdoors in a peaceful, natural environment.  Email Dylon at [email protected].

Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson

Outdoor Education and Recreation Manager

Retired educator Sarah Wilson has loved the outdoors her whole life. Growing up along the beaches of South Carolina, Sarah discovered the joy and healing properties of spending time outdoors.

Her career began at Hobcaw Barony in Georgetown, where she taught adults and children about Carolina ecosystems. For most of her career, Sarah taught elementary-aged students at two Montessori schools in Georgetown County. Even within the walls of a classroom, Sarah’s teaching centered around the natural world and moving her students outdoors as often as possible. Today, she spends much of her spare time outdoors, sharing her love of nature whenever possible. Sarah is excited to be the Outdoor Education and Recreation Manager for the Black River Cypress Preserve helping educate future outdoor enthusiasts.  Email Sarah at [email protected].

Shana Barrineau

Visitation Coordinator

Andrews native, Shana Barrineau, has always referred to Black River as her happy place.  As a little girl, it is where she was taught how to swim, was up on water skis by age eight, and, by the time she was a teenager, she was diving from the tall Cypress trees into the deep blackwater. Shana shares her enthusiasm as the Visitation Coordinator by welcoming her friends, neighbors, and surrounding community members to the Black River Cypress Preserve, so they can also enjoy its natural beauty and recreational opportunities available in our own backyard.  Serving as a teacher in the Andrews schools for twenty years, Shana now spends her free time educating both children and adults as an outdoor education guide at the Preserve.  Email Shana at [email protected].

Dana Beach

Dana Beach

Board Member, Butler Conservation/Park Builders International

Dana Beach founded the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League in 1989. Under his direction, the organization has evolved into one of the most successful state-level conservation groups in the country, growing from two staff members and an annual budget of $90,000 to 35 staff members, an annual budget of $3.5 million, and offices in Beaufort, Charleston, Georgetown, and Columbia.

Beach stepped down as director in 2018. He is currently working with the South Carolina Department of Agriculture to promote climate-friendly farming practices, as well as a consultant and board member of Butler Conservation. A published writer and author, the Columbia native lives in Charleston with his wife, Virginia.

Sean Johansen

Waterways Supervisor

Sean Johansen is a dedicated natural resource professional with a profound interest in the conservation and management of the majestic Black River. With a degree in Forestry and Wildlife Management and a deep-rooted love for rivers and aquatic systems, Sean has dedicated his career to preserving the natural beauty and ecological integrity of the Black River.

From an early age, Sean found himself drawn to the lush forests and winding waterways along South Carolina’s coastal plain where he grew up. He developed a strong connection with nature and spent as much time among the trees and on the water as possible. As Waterways Supervisor and Group Kayak Lead, Sean is able to pursue his passions as well as enrich countless individuals, while leaving a lasting impact on the environment and future generations. Email Sean at [email protected].