RTPI Rising
Strategic Plan

In December 2020, RTPI suffered an electrical fire, leading to a six-month closure for repairs. This followed a four-month closure earlier in 2020 due to Covid-19. Undaunted, RTPI board and staff have united to make sure we don’t let a good crisis go to waste. We have used the time to engage in strategic planning, to lay the groundwork for emerging from the literal fire – phoenix-like – transformed: more relevant to our communities, more programmatically vibrant and financially resilient.

Guided by strategic planning consultant Molly Penn of Penn Creative Strategy, RTPI spent several months conducting research, analyzing data, exploring various nonprofit models and came up with several options for mapping out a bold, new, strategic direction.

After thorough deliberation, we determined that our best course – to make the best use of our sanctuary of a building and world class collection of Peterson artwork – is to fully embrace Peterson’s signature legacy as father of the modern field guide. We envision RTPI as the living embodiment of the Peterson field guide. Like the field guide, we are a trusted source of information about the natural world. Like the field guide, we use art to illuminate the wonders of the natural world. Like the field guide, we are accessible to and welcoming of everyone.

RTPI Rising. More than mere metaphor – they’re words we live by.


Over the course of the next three years, RTPI will transform itself into a nature art museum of national significance. It will inform, inspire and enlighten a large, diverse audience through exhibitions and programming at the nexus of art and conservation. It will nurture the next generation of artists and conservationists. It will drive tourism to the greater Jamestown community. It will build the necessary operational and financial capacity to be a model of nonprofit sustainability. RTPI will matter to its community — locally, regionally, nationally.


Roger Tory Peterson’s signature contribution to the arc of the American Conservation Movement was the modern field guide. Trained as an artist, Peterson understood the power of art to inform, inspire and illuminate people about the natural world. His illustrated field guides allowed for easy, accurate identification in the field. The experience of using the field guide has helped millions of people across the globe really see the natural world. To be inspired by it. To fall in love with it. Throughout his multifaceted career, Peterson helped us to see the challenges, too – the devastating impacts of pesticides, habitat loss and other environmental ills. He also demonstrated that each and every one of us can make a difference in protecting the earth’s diversity of plants and animals.


The Roger Tory Peterson Institute is a living embodiment of the Peterson Field Guide. It is a trusted source of information, inspiration and illumination. It is a gateway to the natural area wonders that inspired Roger to his career as one of the world’s premier artist-naturalists and international ambassador for the protection of nature. It is a leader for driving the cultural economy of Jamestown and the surrounding area.


Home to the largest collection of Roger Tory Peterson’s work, the Roger Tory Peterson Institute is a leader for the study, exhibition and nurturing of art that matters to the planet. Through world class exhibitions and programs, RTPI illuminates the beauty of nature; challenges us to confront environmental issues of regional, national and global concern; and inspires us to preserve the earth’s biodiversity – with a particular emphasis on the natural area wonders of Western New York.


Art Matters — among the many ways to raise awareness about conservation, art has a unique and underutilized power to engage hearts, minds and hands

Biodiversity Matters — RTPI embraces the full diversity of the biological community

People Matter — RTPI embraces the full diversity of the human community

Sanctuary Matters — RTPI is a safe space, a refuge for nature, a place of reflection, renewal and rejuvenation for people

Speaking Out Matters — RTPI takes no sides regarding politics but will always side with nature no matter the politics

Goal I: Build RTPI into a nature art museum of regional & national significance

The living embodiment of the Peterson field guide, RTPI uses art as a primary lens through which to engage visitors about the natural world. Each exhibition engages deeply on multiple levels: 1) the exceptional beauty and wonder of nature, 2) the critical conservation challenges of our time, and 3) the creative, heroic solutions to those challenges. In short, RTPI matters for its commitment to exhibiting art with intention: Art that Matters to the Planet.


  1. Establish RTPI as a leading curatorial voice on nature art and the critical conservation issues of our time
  2. Establish RTPI’s credentials as a national museum
  3. Nurture the next generation of artists and conservationists in pursuit of Art that Matters to the Planet

Goal II: Build RTPI into a conservation organization of regional value

Born and raised in Jamestown, Roger Tory Peterson was inspired to his future career by the nature of CHQ. RTPI has an obligation to ensure that the nature that inspired Roger is accessible and healthy enough to inspire the next generation of artists, conservationists and those who simply love the natural beauty of CHQ.


  1. Build RTPI into a gateway organization for nature and birding in Western NY
  2. Establish programs that incorporate art in cultivating the next generation of conservationists
  3. Develop a regional ecological services business plan that advances mission and financial goals

Goal III: Drive the cultural economy of Jamestown and the CHQ region

With the gift of a $6 million building comes the responsibility to employ that asset for the demonstrable benefit of the community. Jamestown is exceptional for being a small town with a concentration of high-value cultural attractions, including institutions dedicated to three hometown heroes of national significance: Roger Tory Peterson, Lucille Ball and Robert H Jackson. RTPI is perfectly positioned to step up, to fulfill its potential as one of the anchor attractions for Jamestown and CHQ.


  1. Establish RTPI as the “go to” cultural resource for art and nature lovers
  2. Launch a series of annual events that become treasured community traditions
  3. Leverage connections with community partners to attract tourism to the region
  4. Establish a downtown Jamestown presence for RTPI

Goal IV: Build the operational and financial capacity necessary to support the strategic vision

To achieve its goals of becoming a nature art museum of national significance, of driving the cultural economy of the region, RTPI must build its staff capacity accordingly. It must evolve its operations, financial management and fundraising in accordance with accepted best practices in the field.


  1. Enhance operational capacity
  2. Expand and enhance development efforts
  3. Expand outreach, communications and marketing