Welcome to the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center

For 70 years, we have provided visitors and the greater Mystic community the opportunity to experience nature first hand, whether it be on the 10 miles of trails on land owned by the Denison Homestead and Avalonia Land Conservancy, in our natural history museum, our Nature Store, or as part of one of our many programs. The creation of the Coogan Farm Nature and Heritage Center in 2013 has added additional layers of education, history, and ecology to our offerings.

Our mission is to inspire an understanding of the natural world and ourselves as part of it – past, present and future. It is our hope that through DPNC and Coogan Farm that we will help our visitors foster a personal environmental ethic.

Celebrate 70

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2016 shaping up to be an ‘epic’ year


DPNC’s 70th year will be remembered as an epic period in the evolution of our organization as we integrate Coogan Farm into our operations and continue to implement our strategic plan: Vision 2020. We have set the bar high to transform our organization within and without. On April 25, 2016 – the same date the Pequotsepos Wildlife Sanctuary was originally incorporated in 1946 – the grand opening of the Avery House & Welcome Center and the Jules X Schneider Nature & Arts Barn launched a new era for us, and for the expanded communities we serve, just in time for the longer, warmer days of spring and summer.

The facilities, land and habitats of Coogan, including the Giving Garden, provide indoor/outdoor classrooms for a range of new and expanded programs and possibilities. We invite you to sample the walks, talks, and events we have planned for the coming season. To help manage a larger organization and workload, we are making shifts to build infrastructure and capacity in administrative processes and operations. We have created new positions, and revised and/or expanded existing jobs and Board committee roles. In Fall 2015, Davnet Schaffer was promoted to Associate Director (in addition to her role as head of our Nature Preschool). We recently welcomed new full-time staff members Jeremy Ladyga as director of development, and Cassandra Meyer-Ogren as manager of events, volunteers and membership.  

With our busy spring-summer season now in full swing, we have an expanded staff of educators leading programs for all ages on site at DPNC/Coogan and travelling to schools, libraries, natural areas and other venues around the region. Many of our staff offer special skills that serve us well. For example, educator Sophia Luckenbill, in addition to her background in scientific research and teaching, also helps with grant writing. Nikki Boushee, who works at the front desk and in the store, is applying her artistic abilities to help create new exhibits. Seven of our education staff participated in the DEEP’s spring training session for Wildlife Rehabilitators to help us address a need for enhanced capacity and expertise in handling wildlife emergencies. A number of our regular summer staff return for Summer Camp 2016 (some of our camp counselors have been with us for up to 15 years, a sure sign that they like the Nature Center and what we/they do and that we recognize the value the talent they bring to us!). In the Day’s Best Of Reader’s Choice Awards recognizing the best in eastern CT, we won the Best Preschool category and placed second in best summer camp and best animal rescue.!  

We are building on a tradition of seven decades of excellence with the natural world as classroom, creating a bright future for the Nature Center and the region with an expanded greenway close to Mystic’s urban center offering new opportunities for people to connect to nature.  No one would have predicted how I-95 and Exit 90 would have changed the face of Mystic, bringing visitors here from near and far. The intersection of rural and urban landscapes and wild ecosystems (native plant and animal communities) is much more pronounced in Connecticut than it was 70 years ago, and through the years DPNC has helped to protect its unique character and sense of place.

We are still forging new partnerships with schools, volunteers, civic groups and organizations, working together to inspire and educate others to value nature’s benefits and to protect nature for its own sake and ours. This includes sustainable agriculture (food production and education in our Giving Garden and new teaching kitchen), helping to foster a balance between satisfying human needs/feeding people and protecting water, land and climate resources as we adjust our framework and embrace our mission: to inspire an understanding of the natural world and our place in it, past, present and future.” Stay tuned!