The family of Roger Tory Peterson is well represented on the Roger Tory Peterson Institute's board of directors.
Twan Leenders, RTPI president, recently added both of Peterson's sons to the board and Peterson's granddaughter.
"We had our board meetings last week and we're very excited to now have both of Roger Tory Peterson's sons on our boards," said Leenders. "One of them is on our foundation board and one of them is on our director board, but they're both working in support of the institute. As a new board member, we just welcomed Ashley Peterson, who is Roger Tory Peterson's granddaughter. Now we have two generations of Petersons in support of their father and grandfather here."
From left are Twan Leenders, Roger Tory Peterson Institute president; Ashley Peterson, Roger Tory Peterson’s granddaughter; and Tory and Lee Peterson, the naturalist’s sons.
Leenders said the addition of relatives of Roger Tory Peterson to the institute's board could help in many different ways.
"To a large extent I think the rights to use Peterson's works are still going through a family trust, so to a large extent also, our ability to use a lot of the works that we have here more freely depends on support from the family," said Leenders. "I think the support we're getting from both of the Peterson brothers and Ashley right now are a great statement that underscores their support of our mission and the goal to really get the name of Roger Tory Peterson and everything he stands for back out there again."
Peterson's two sons, Tory and Lee Peterson, have been working with the institute off and on for quite a while, according to Leenders.
However, Leenders also stated that the manner in which the Peterson family is working with RTPI currently is the closest the family has been with the institute in quite some time.
"Unfortunately, we're at a point where the name Roger Tory Peterson and everything he stands for, his whole legacy, is not getting as much exposure as it did when he was alive," Leenders said. "We're seeing a lot of interest right now, because of this auction (of many of Peterson's works) coming up, so it is somewhat fortuitous that this gives us an opportunity to let the world know of the existence of RTPI and our mission, because a lot of people are solely focused on this auction of 500 works or so. But at the same time there are over 200,000 items associated with Peterson in this building and on rotating displays. Those items deserve the same amount of attention that the items up for auction are receiving.
Currently Ashley Peterson works as the vice president of human resources at Discovery Communications, which is the Discovery Channel's parent company. Leenders said he is excited about the connections Ashley has and how they could come to help RTPI.
"Ashley is certainly a young professional in a very busy, highly responsible position, so the fact that she's willing to take on (being a member of an RTPI board) says a lot about her commitment to her grandfather's legacy," said Leenders. "It is too early to tell how her (association with the Discovery Channel) will play out, but it is critical for us to have key players in important positions around the country. It's a lot easier to get the attention of millions of people when you're in a large city than it is from Jamestown, N.Y. Simply having her on board could only mean good things for RTPI."