Connecticut Audbon Society
The Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center

The Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center

News & Information at the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center

Who We Are

At the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center we dedicate ourselves to future generations through experiential education and conservation of our land, waters and the species that inhabit them.

The future for RTPEC is bright and strong. As we move forward, we will implement the strategies we have learned, invest in our team and communities and continue to advocate for and protect our environment.

We believe that learning should be joyful. We are always focusing on innovating and believe in the programs we provide. We have high quality standards and that will continue. RTPEC hopes to launch new research programs based around the NERR, further expand our reach and develop meaningful partnerships as collaboration is a cornerstone of RTPEC. We have big goals and dreams and are grateful for your continued support. 

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.

 Click here to read about our team.


We’re Hiring! Join the RTPEC Team

Part-Time Teacher-Naturalist –Birding Focused

For more information contact Heather Kordula, Education Program Manager at or call 860-598-4218.


Volunteer at the RTP Estuary Center

Click here for Volunteer Opportunities and to apply!

For more information contact Carly Mattson, Office Administrator, at or call 860-598-4218.


News Release: Connecticut Audubon Agrees to Buy a Former Inn in Old Lyme as Headquarters for its Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center

Plans are for the former Bee and Thistle Inn to become the new home of the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center.

November 2, 2020 — The Connecticut Audubon Society and its Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center will soon have a great new facility in Old Lyme to continue to carry out the regional conservation, science research and education work that began five years when the RTPEC was established.

The organization has reached an agreement to buy the former Bee and Thistle Inn, at 100 Lyme Street. The plan is to create an environmental education center for people of all ages. It will become the estuary center’s new headquarters and will include a room for public talks and workshops, a location for summer day camp, and a staging area for research on the ecology of the estuary. 

The RTPEC offices, which are currently at 90 Halls Road, will move to the new facility as well.

The 5.25-acre site is on the Lieutenant River, a tributary of the Connecticut River. It includes a wetland area and offers river access to the local 56-acre section of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge.

The Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center has developed a strong reputation in its five years based on a string of successful programs. The Center currently reaches 5,000 young people and adults across the region through environmental education programs at schools, online and in the field.

“The RTPEC is one of our jewels, and this new facility is in a perfect location for a nature center that focuses on the estuarine environment,” said Connecticut Audubon Executive Director Patrick Comins. “We can’t wait to introduce people to its birds and wildlife, and to use it as a launching area for more great outings. The volunteers who had the vision to establish the center in 2015 and then to keep building on its success deserve all the credit for this.”

Connecticut Audubon is planning a  comprehensive campaign to cover the purchase price to renovate the building for visitors, and to preserve this landmark for the community.. The goal is to open the new facility within 12 to 18 months.

Claudia Weicker, chair of the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center Regional Board, said that the new facility’s location, next to the Florence Griswold Museum, was particularly appropriate.

“Our commitment to conservation of the Connecticut River estuary and of Long Island Sound is as strong as ever,” she said. “We focus on the environment and education, in particular, and, in doing so, we relate the importance of nature to the history and culture of our area. This location, next to the home of Miss Florence Griswold, revives the synergy that existed between America’s great art colony and the beauty of the natural world.” 

The Center is named after Roger Tory Peterson, the artist, writer, teacher, and conservationist who lived and worked in Old Lyme. Peterson’s field guides to birds and nature were well known and iconic in the 20th century.

Two of the center’s most successful programs will continue to take place elsewhere. Its spring and fall lecture series regularly draws overflow crowds to local auditoriums to hear nationally-known experts on birds, estuary science and other conservation topics. 

The Science in Nature outdoor education program will continue to be taught at area schools, natural areas within walking distance of schools, and through distance learning.

Those two off-site programs will complement the offerings at the new center, said Alisha Milardo, the director of the RTPEC.

“The residents of southeastern Connecticut have an abiding interest and enthusiasm for environmental conservation programs,” she said. “Our education, science research and advocacy programs have received great support and we’re confident that at this new location we will be able to expand our offerings for the community.”


What to do with “abandoned” or “orphaned” birds

The best advice is to leave baby birds, like this Purple Martin, when you found them. Photo by Stephanie Galea/The Connecticut Audubon Society

The CT DEEP has excellent advice for what to do if you find an “orphaned” bird. Click this link. Photo by Stephanie Galea/The Connecticut Audubon Society

May 6, 2020 — Have you found an abandoned bird?

Birds and other wildlife that seem to be abandoned or orphaned at this time of year often are not actually abandoned orphaned.

The Connecticut DEEP has advice about what to do if you find a bird that you think is abandoned. There are several alternatives.

Click here to learn about them.

Please do not bring injured or orphaned animals to any Connecticut Audubon Society facility. Connecticut Audubon is not authorized to accept injured or abandoned animals.

But if it is obviously injured, it may need help. The CT DEEP has more information here about dealing with distressed wildlife.


A Word to Our Sponsors

Thank you from the entire RTPEC team!

As the recent pandemic has moved across our state and region, our first thoughts have been of family, friends and our supporters.  We realize that no one has been unaffected by the health and economic hardship that has been inflicted on our communities.

You have stood by the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center and we want you to know how your support has affected our programs in this difficult and uncertain period of time.   For many, this has been difficult on many levels as the disease has known no boundaries and has affected everyone in some way or another.

Even as we have sheltered in place, many have found solace and comfort in the natural rhythms of nature and have discovered the renewal of the natural world as a healing balm, a distraction from concern, and an alternative to the four walls of home and home schooling.  Our parks, trails, and land trust properties have never been so appreciated. 

With our schools closed indefinitely, RTPEC teachers turned to the internet to continue instruction and we provided webinars on everything from backyard birding to pollinator gardens to our living shoreline.   We have reached beyond our region, across the state, and to residents even in other states with instructive material on how to live, understand and cherish the outdoor world. 

I am pleased to tell you that because of your support, we were able to be nimble and adapt quickly to the challenge of long distance and virtual learning for people of all ages.   Webinars, offered by our center, are interactive and have as many as 100 participants who are able to ask questions.   These now form the basis of a library of education programs that can be made available to schools, libraries, and community organizations. 

These last few weeks have been difficult for many of our friends and sponsors of the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center.  We want you to know that we have not forgotten you and, just as you, have been there to assist us, we here for you.  Over the days to come, we will be featuring our sponsors on our website in order to remind our followers of those in their community who have been supportive of our environmental education and community programs.  We realize this is a small gesture but, as the state prepares to once again resume economic activity, we hope this thank you to our friends will help in your recovery.

Again, we are grateful for your help when we needed it.

Alisha Milardo
Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center

For more information about our sponsors, click here



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