We know your experience will be defined by the knowledge, enthusiasm and skills of your guide!  Wilderness Southeast guides  (WiSE Guides) are carefully chosen to give you a genuine and memorable experience. Committed and caring, and passionate about this coast, WiSE Guides possess a natural desire to smile and share, plus they have a depth of knowledge that allows them to broaden perspectives. Most WiSE Guides have other jobs when they’re not leading a WiSE tour; all have a gift for providing fun as well as new experiences, information, and perspectives.  They have a gift for helping others to see the world as a place of wonder and possibility. Bring your curiosity! 


P1070420Garret Jones – Executive Director

Falling in love with the Georgia coast came naturally to Garret after his years working for environmental education facilities along the North Carolina coast and in Maryland.  Garret’s extensive and easily shared knowledge perfectly meshes with his excitement for meeting new people as he spreads smiles and information on all WiSE tours.

joycemurllessJoyce Murlless – Founder, Former ED

With a wealth of experience in natural history observation and discoveries, and both a bachelors and masters degree in education, Joyce delights in exploding current myths about our native plants and animals, and in explaining the less obvious connections between our lives and the natural world. Joyce is one of the three founders of Wilderness Southeast, and is currently Executive Director Emeritus. Her knowledge of plants, animals, and ecosystems is easily and patiently shared.

Diana Churchill

Diana simply has a passion for birds — and delights in sharing her passion with others.  Perhaps even more rare, Diana is an expert birder who knows how to make birding accessible and fun for all. She can help you find a “lifer”, or teach a fourth grade class to use binoculars successfully and enthusiastically. Born and raised in Savannah, Diana came early to a deep appreciation of the tidal creeks and marshes of coastal Georgia.  She is author and photographer of the book “Birder’s Eye View”, writes a Savannah Morning News column of the same name, and is a sought-after birding tour leader for all ages — from girl scouts to senior citizens!


John “Crawfish” Crawford

“Crawfish” is an avid outdoorsman and Savannah native, who has made a lifetime study of wild places and their inhabitants. He has been researcher, teacher, expedition leader, naturalist, and environmental consultant for several organizations. He is currently University of Georgia faculty at the UGA Marine Extension Center & Aquarium and is a USCG licensed Master Captain. One of the three founders of Wilderness Southeast, “Crawfish” shares his vast wealth of natural history with infectious enthusiasm.

ebenezerKaren Grainey

Karen has worked tirelessly to keep Georgia’s beaches, marshes, and waterways clean, both of trash and less visible pollution. A Georgia Master Naturalist, she will lead you to delightful discoveries while paddling or motoring through the wondrous wetlands of coastal Georgia. An active volunteer with Georgia Adopt-A-Stream and Clean Coast, plus several advocacy organizations, Karen and husband Philip received the 2002 statewide Environmental Education Award for Extraordinary Volunteer Watershed Effort. Her enthusiasm and passion to explore are contagious, and she enjoys sharing her knowledge of and concern for our unique coastal habitats.

Cathy Sakas

Cathy is an expert at helping people understand and appreciate the creatures of the southeast’s swamps, marshes, islands, coral reefs, and oceans. Cathy has a B.S. in biology, and M.Ed. in science education. Cathy was host and author of the “Coastal Naturalist” TV series produced by Georgia Public Television. She recently retired from the post of education coordinator for NOAA’s Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary.

kerry Nelson w-Anole

Kerry Nelson

A published author in the world of herpetology, Kerry is a Savannah native with an impressive list of work experience related to researching, teaching, and interpreting the habitats and wildlife of the Georgia coast. Happiest when in some wild place searching for wildlife, Kerry possesses incredible talent at finding reptiles in all habitats and will unravel the mysteries of their lives as you walk with him. Though reptiles are his specialty, Kerry’s interests and extensive knowledge easily extend to coastal wildlife in general, and the plants and geology that support the extraordinary life of our coast.

peterbrodheadPeter Brodhead

Peter is never so excited as when finding an herb or mushroom that can be used to support someone’s health. A certified nutritionist, working on a degree in homeopathy, Peter is the owner of the original natural foods store in Savannah. A walk with Peter will open your eyes to the amazing gifts that are available from the plants all around us on the Georgia coast.

lauralawtonLaura Lawton

Savannah area astronomer Laura Lawton has a gift for explaining astronomy in an understandable way. Laura holds a B.S. in physics and an M. Ed. in Science, and currently teaches high school in Savannah. Laura can spin tales about black holes and the Big Bang theory along with Greek or Native American mythology and will show you the stars and planets using her 8-inch reflector telescope.

davechapinDave Chafin

Dave’s reptile programs showcase his extensive, and permitted, collection of regional reptiles – from turtles to alligators. He even features a few amphibians from time to time. Dave likes to take time to appreciate nature’s surprises, and he excels in finding elusive reptiles. He has some wonderful stories to share!  Dave is a valued volunteer for the Ogeechee Audubon Society, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Savannah-Ogeechee Canal Society.

DeeDee Hope

Devane A. “Dee” Hope has traipsed through forests, swamps, marshes and beaches to learn about the rich natural heritage of the lowcountry. Dee has been leading tours for over 20 years on the flora and fauna, history and architecture of the area, and is a certified Historic District tour guide. His work in botanical gardens in both South Carolina and Georgia (including serving as Education Coordinator for the Georgia Southern Botanical Garden in Statesboro, Ga.), has given him tremendous knowledge of native and cultivated flora and its role in the history of the coastal lowcountry. As a tour leader, Dee loves a good puzzle. Challenge him to identify a mystery shrub or tree!

mickdanielsonMick Danielson

An area native, Mick long ago developed an affinity for the rich salt marshes, floodplains and river swamps surrounding Savannah. His broad knowledge of our flora, fauna, history and culture increased further in his nine years as State Park Ranger. Mick developed Fort McAllister State Park’s canoe trail and primitive camping sites. His American Canoeing Association leader certification further qualifies Mick to lead paddling programs. When not out paddling through wetlands, Mick teaches in Effingham County.