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Matt Johnson has been promoted to the position of center director of the Audubon Center and Sanctuary at Francis Beidler Forest, an 18,000-acre haven in Harleyville.

The sanctuary includes the world’s largest virgin cypress-tupelo swamp forest and critical habitat for 180 bird species and myriad other wildlife.

With more than six years at Audubon South Carolina, most recently as the director of bird conservation and engagement, Johnson has been instrumental in advancing the organization’s mission through research, outreach and advocacy.

As center director, Johnson will work to elevate Beidler as an important community resource and vital bird and wildlife habitat, while overseeing day-to-day operations and management of the center.

“Having started my career with Audubon as the education manager at Beidler, I’m thrilled to return in a new role to this preserve that I love so much,” Johnson said. “I’m excited for the chance to introduce people from all over South Carolina and beyond to this truly one-of-a-kind ecosystem."

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Johnson has 11 years of experience in bird biology and science education and bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Clemson University.

“Matt is a proven and passionate leader and an expert in his field, and we’re excited for him to begin this new chapter of his Audubon career,” said Audubon Senior Vice President of States and Audubon South Carolina Interim Director Rebeccah Sanders.

Audubon South Carolina also announced the promotion of Nolan Schillerstrom from coastal program coordinator to coastal program associate.

For the last five years, he has led the organization’s coastal program through on-the-ground research, community and media outreach, and in the training of hundreds of volunteers. Schillerstrom has a bachelor’s degree in biology and environmental studies from Cornell College and is pursuing a master’s degree in environmental studies from the College of Charleston.

“In addition to doing yeoman’s work for South Carolina’s coastal bird stewardship program, Nolan was instrumental in securing the $700,000 National Fish and Wildlife grant that, along with the enormous generosity of private and corporate donors, helped secure the fate of Crab Bank Seabird Sanctuary, one of the state’s most important rookeries for our threatened coastal bird populations,” Sanders said.

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