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

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 is 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.

Volunteer Opportunities

Are you looking for a way to get more involved with the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center? We are looking for volunteers!

Education: These volunteers would help to facilitate family and adult programs with our center. You could be involved in hikes, bird walks, or crafting activities. These volunteers would benefit from a naturalist background.

Administration: We are looking for volunteers to greet people at our center. These greeters should be comfortable answering the phone and questions about our center. We also need help with  tasks like correspondence and book-keeping. 

Get involved today by filling out our volunteer application form. We look forward to working with you!

Community Foundation of Middlesex County Funds Deep River Elementary School’s Participation in Science in Nature Education Program

January 18, 2019 – Eight classrooms in grades kindergarten through three from Deep River Elementary School will participate in the Connecticut Audubon Society’s award-winning Science in Nature Education Program, thanks to a generous $3,124 grant from the Community Foundation of Middlesex County.

The program will include curriculum development in coordination with Deep River Elementary School, teacher support throughout the program, and place-based experiences for students and teachers along the Connecticut River estuary to support classroom science lessons. Students will receive a tailored program specific to their teacher’s needs and challenge level, focusing more inclusively on the dominant and unique environmental influence of Southeastern Connecticut with its coastal, estuary, and watershed ecosystems. Each outdoor session will be guided by a trained Connecticut Audubon Society teacher-naturalist, with students using the latest education and field technologies to support their learning.

 “We are thrilled to expand our Science in Nature program further into Middlesex County,” said Eleanor Robinson, director of the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center. “We are particularly excited to introduce important science concepts to younger students, and to increase their exposure to conservation issues related to the Connecticut River estuary.”

Connecticut Audubon Society’s mission is to conserve Connecticut’s environment through science-based education and advocacy focused on the state’s bird populations and their habitats. Connecticut Audubon Society established Science in Nature in 2012 to help introduce Connecticut students to basic concepts in outdoor conservation science. It is based on current state and national science standards. More than 70,000 students from across the state have participated at Connecticut Audubon Society’s centers and at their schools.

Programs with Deep River Elementary will begin in Spring 2019.

The Community Foundation of Middlesex County is dedicated to enhancing and improving the quality of life for its residents. For more information, visit

Press Release -National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Funds Schoolyard Rain Gardens in Essex, Chester, and Deep River

December 21, 2018 – Connecticut Audubon Society will guide student-led planning and installation of rain and pollinator gardens at schools in the Connecticut River Estuary, including Essex, Deep River, and Chester, Connecticut. This project will enhance existing schoolyard habitats, adding features that reduce 4,675 gallons of storm water pollution annually. The gardens will provide the accessible, “living laboratory” component needed to introduce the concepts of erosion, pollution, water flow, drainage, and native wildlife diversity to complement students’ science lessons. The project will be funded by a $15,443 grant from National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Long Island Sound Futures Fund.

With guidance from Connecticut Audubon Society’s education staff, students will lead the design and installation their own safe, accessible schoolyard features to study issues affecting, and actions benefiting Long Island Sound’s water quality, biodiversity, and ecology. All 600 students will participate in the planting of the gardens. Students and teachers will then use the spaces to conduct studies, which will combine Connecticut Audubon Society’s award-winning Science in Nature Education program with existing Long Island Sound Study-funded curriculum on Long Island Sound ecology.

A total of thirty-six awards were announced by federal and state environmental officials for this year’s grant program, with projects anticipated to reach more than 1.7 million residents through environmental education and conservation efforts.  “We are pleased that over $300,000 is being awarded to Connecticut projects supporting resiliency and living shorelines restoration as well as marine spatial planning of the Long Island Sound Blue Plan,” said Rob Klee, Commissioner, Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. “These projects will continue to build on our efforts to protect and improve the health of Long Island Sound, fostering improved water quality, habitat restoration, coastal stewardship, watershed based management, and public involvement and education.”

Connecticut Audubon Society’s mission is to conserve Connecticut’s environment through science-based education and advocacy focused on the state’s bird populations and their habitats.

The activities funded through the Long Island Sound Futures Fund show how projects led by local groups and communities make a big difference in improving water quality and restoring habitat around the Sound watershed. This grant program combines funds from the Environmental Protection Agency and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

RTP Estuary Center Receives Donation

 Chris Kitchings, owner of the Bowerbird gift shop in Old  Lyme hands over an end of the year donation ($4011) to Eleanor Robinson, director of the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center. The RTPEC was the  Bowerbird designated nonprofit to receive the proceeds from the fees generated from gift wrapping requested by customers throughout the year.

Eleanor Robinson, RTPEC Center Director (left) and Chris Kitchings, owner of The Bowerbird ,Old Lyme

Press Release – Pfizer Grant Brings Science Equipment to Students and Families

September 18, 2018 – A $5,000 grant by Pfizer Community Grants will fund scientific equipment purchases to support outreach and educational programming at the Connecticut Audubon Society’s Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center in Old Lyme.

The new equipment will improve hands-on learning activities for visitors to the center and, because it is portable, will be an important component of school programs and summer camp as well. New lab tables and chairs, solar microscopes, Vernier USB Digital Microscopes, laptops, prepared samples, as well as bug boxes, petri dishes, graduated cylinders, and slides, will let visitors and students engage in the scientific method, exactly as scientists do.

 “The equipment funded by Pfizer Community Grants will be a prominent part of our facility,” said Eleanor Robinson, director of the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center. “Since we are located in the Old Lyme Marketplace, which gets a lot of visitors, many people of all ages will enjoy the opportunity for hands-on scientific discovery.  It adds a unique dimension by giving people a chance to explore environmental science and its application to conservation issues of the day.”

The new equipment has already been put to good use. Two interns from Mount Holyoke College, who have been working with the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center, were joined by several 6- to 8-year-olds who were eager to learn about submerged aquatic vegetation, and get their hands mucky in the process. The program, titled The Secret World of Underwater Plants, had participants using the new solar microscopes to view the texture and structure of various collected specimens.

Connecticut Audubon’s mission is to conserve Connecticut’s environment through science-based education and advocacy focused on the state’s bird populations and their habitats. Connecticut Audubon is based in Fairfield. In addition to Old Lyme, it has centers in Pomfret, Glastonbury, Milford, Fairfield, and Sherman, and an EcoTravel program based in Essex.

Pfizer Community Grants provides grants to communities in Southeastern Connecticut, the greater New Haven area, and southern Rhode Island. Priorities are given to program that bring STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) to students, as well as programs that provide for the underserved or to support local civic and cultural institutions. For more information, visit




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