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Roger Tory Peterson

Born and raised in Jamestown, New York, Roger Tory Peterson became the premier artist-naturalist of his time. He is best known for his pioneering field guides. The first – A Field Guide to the Birds, published in 1934 – sparked a worldwide movement to connect people with nature as never before. Peterson authored and illustrated dozens of guides – for birds, plants, insects and other natural flora and fauna – selling millions of copies and becoming an international ambassador for protecting our natural resources.

RTP penguins slider

In 1980, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. Today, an ever-expanding list of Peterson Guides, published by Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt, continue to be the go-to resource for professional and amateur naturalists all over the world.


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.”