Roger Tory Peterson was the pre-eminent American naturalist who illustrated and chronicled the natural world to the public in the 20th century. Over a long career that began with nature study in the seventh grade in Jamestown, New York, he observed, recorded and published for lay audiences the incredible beauty and diversity of plants and animals from North America and around the world.
The publication of his A Field Guide to The Birds in 1934 fostered a massive and worldwide movement connecting human beings with their natural surroundings. The Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History holds and preserves Dr. Peterson’s lifetime work of writings, drawings, paintings, photography, films and artifacts in an award-winning center in Jamestown, NY.
Dr. Peterson believed that the key to solving environmental problems is to know the plants and animals and their complex interactions, and understand our dependence upon them. He wrote:
“The philosophy that I have worked under most of my life is that the serious study of natural history is an activity which has far-reaching effects in every aspect of a person’s life. It ultimately makes people protective of the environment in a very committed way. It is my opinion that the study of natural history should be the primary avenue for creating environmentalists.”