The Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center

The Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center

News & Information at the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center

Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center

The Connecticut Audubon Society’s Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center is dedicated to the conservation and preservation of the Connecticut River Estuary ecosystem and watershed, through science-based research, education and advocacy.

The Connecticut River Estuary, where the Connecticut River meets Long Island Sound, is a showcase for biodiversity, serving as a fisheries nursery and an important nesting and migratory stopover for numerous birds.

The RTPEC, named for internationally and locally renowned artist, scientific illustrator, environmental educator and conservation advocate Roger Tory Peterson, is seeking to acquire land and a building to create an environmental education center.

The center will be dedicated to facilitating scientific research, establish high-quality environmental education for children, teens and adults, and promote outreach and advocacy to preserve, protect and conserve the estuary and its beauty for generations.

Click here to read about Eleanor Robinson, our Center Director.

Click here to read about our Education Team.


Grant Funding in Lyme and Old Lyme

November 1, 2017 – The Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center has been awarded a generous grant from the Lyme-Old Lyme Education Foundation to be used in local elementary schools for the 2017-18 school year.

The center is using the grant to purchase technological equipment for student use in the field to further the study of local natural habitats. The grant also allows center educators to teach Science in Nature to third, fourth and fifth grade children at Mile Creek and Lyme Consolidated elementary schools.

Third graders observe a pond during Science in Nature

The Lyme–Old Lyme Education Foundation is an independent, non-profit organization that raises funds to enhance learning for all ages in the Lyme-Old Lyme community. The Foundation has funded many enrichment projects in innovative teaching and learning for local students. 

“LOLEF is excited to partner with the Estuary Center in an exciting new science program for our elementary school students,” said Mary Stone, the Foundation’s president. “Science in Nature is a dynamic, interdisciplinary program that actively involves children in the methods of scientific inquiry at an early age.”

This grant award follows a Science in Nature pilot program initiated in the 2016-2017 school year that garnered the endorsement and enthusiasm of students, teachers and school administrators.

A Summer at Camp Claire

This summer the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center received a grant from the Petit Foundation and Reynolds Subaru to initiate a pilot nature program at Camp Claire in Lyme.

The funding allowed the center to purchase and construct a 16 x 16 framed, platform tent known as the “naturalist niche.”

Campers gathered in the tent and ventured beyond to learn about Hamburg Cove and the local biodiversity, using scientific equipment and naturalist tools. Campers were able to explore the natural world with engaging activities including fish dissections, forest forays, and seine netting in the cove for crab and fish species. 

A camper votes on the daily question outside the  “naturalist niche.”

More than 75 children took a week-long nature class with Amelia Graham, one of our teacher-naturalists. Scores more visited the naturalist niche during free time for activities like bird bingo, shell matching and food web games.

By the end of summer, a new class had been introduced called Explore the Cove. Older campers could take a two-hour class every day with our teacher-naturalist in a canoe to explore Hamburg Cove.

Campers enjoyed canoeing up the Eight Mile River, visiting a sandbar in the Connecticut River, and searching for wading birds in the marsh.

“Everyone at Camp Claire is enthusiastic and passionate about the camp’s success,” Amelia said. “I’m so grateful that they welcomed the RTPEC into the camp family this summer.”

Success: A Celebration of Swallows Event

The Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center celebrated its first birthday on September 29 by hosting its first annual fundraiser, in Old Lyme.

We gathered at a stunning private residence on the river, and celebrated the year with cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and a dramatic view of the Tree Swallow murmuration.

Guests viewed the landscape through spotting scopes and binoculars and interacted with our center educators, while others watched a brief video about the creation of the center.

At sunset, everyone gathered to watch thousands of swallows dance through the sky before plummeting to Goose Island to roost for the night.

After the murmuration, the the center held  an auction for a private tour of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and a final tribute to our educators before ending the evening.

We would like to thank all of our hosts, sponsors and guests for a wonderful evening and a memorable celebration of all we have accomplished together this year.




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