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What is the Roger Experience?

Eleven year old Roger Tory Peterson touched a clump of feathers - a northern flicker took off - and Roger was captivated by birds for the rest of his life. He was inspired by the animals and plants of Chautauqua County. He was motivated to pursue his love of birds through art. And the entire world benefitted.

We want that same type of experience to be available to every child, and every adult, in our region. That is why we are asking for your help completing the Art & Nature Trail and creating the Art & Nature Lab for Youths and Families.

Thursday, June 10 is Give Big CHQ Day in Chautauqua County and your opportunity to help create a community space for everyone to have their own Roger Experience.

Nature inspires. Nature uplifts. We believe that youths and families need to experience nature. We want to provide a place to experience nature, and a place to channel the inspiration from it into something creative. Something positive.

The Art & Nature Lab will be the final stop on the A&N Trail. Go for a walk through our 27-acre preserve. Then come inside and draw the flowers or birds that you saw. The Art & Nature Lab will have a mural that tells Roger's story in a way that inspires others to make their own connections between art and nature. There will be an interactive art wall, art and nature lessons for youths and adults, and art supplies available for anyone to use.

We envision a community space - an Art & Nature community space. Everyone can access that space because every Sunday is pay-what-you-can day at RTPI.

Please help make this community space a reality by donating on Thursday, June 10. Simply click the green button above my picture. Donations made between 7:16 a.m. and 7:16 p.m. ET help us to earn matching funds. Donations any time of day are greatly appreciated.


Stay safe. Be well. Keep in touch.
Arthur Pearson, CEO



Donate to the Phoenix Fund Volunteer

While we're busy rebuilding inside, our outdoor trails remain open for you to explore. Winter is a perfect time to follow in the footsteps of Roger Tory Peterson through woods that inspired his future career as international ambassador for nature.

Click below for a list of upcoming in-person and online events.

The Roger Tory Peterson Institute

In 1984, the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History was founded in Peterson’s hometown of Jamestown, New York to steward the largest, most comprehensive collection of his artwork, photographs, films, manuscripts and related archival materials. A decade later, the Institute cut the ribbon on its new home – a 23,000 square foot architectural gem, designed by Robert A.M. Stern and nestled within a 28-acre nature preserve. RTPI celebrates Peterson’s legacy at the intersection of art and nature, through exhibitions of world class nature art and related conservation and education programs. Over the past several months, board and staff have been hard at work on crafting a new mission, vision and strategic plan for RTPI. Stay tuned — we’ll be making that announcement soon.

About Roger

The premier artist-naturalist of his time, Roger Tory Peterson sparked a worldwide movement to connect people with nature as never before. Best known as the father of the modern field guide, in 1984 he was honored by the Smithsonian Institution with an exhibition marking the 50th anniversary of the publication of his first guide, A Field Guide to the Birds. “With genius and simplicity, talent and dedication,” wrote the head of the Smithsonian, Peterson “perfected the field guide into the essential tool for understanding…nature.” Peterson traveled the world to observe, photograph and write about birds, earning him numerous honorary doctorates. Among his many awards is the Presidential Medal of Freedom, presented by President Jimmy Carter in 1980. To his fellow birders, he was known as “King Penguin,” given his love for his favorite family of birds.

Snowy Owl Museum Store

We realize you have lots of options for making purchases on line. Amazon is an important winter habitat for migrating birds. But buying the latest Peterson Field Guide and other carefully curated items from the Snowy Owl Museum Store is a great way to support the mission and goals of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute.

Shop the Store Online