and experience the benefits of membership!
Welcome to the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center
Since 1946, we have provided visitors and the greater Mystic community the opportunity to experience nature first hand, whether it be on the more than 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 added additional layers of education, history, and ecology to our cultural landscape.
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.
It is a privilege to live here …
Change is in the air with shortening days and cooler nights. Whatever it is about this time of year that inspires and motivates change, a new season is always a time of transition in nature, and in us. You’ll notice exciting internal and external changes here at DPNC/Coogan Farm.
Perhaps you’ve heard the news that Kim Hargrave, former Education Director of 16 years, has returned to the Nature Center. When Molly Check moved to PA to be closer to her family, we reached out to Kim about the possibility of a return to DPNC. Turns out, our timing was perfect! Lifelong locals, Kim and her family were eager to come home to CT. Also returning to DPNC – Chelle Farrand – as Volunteer Coordinator. Chelle brings a deep knowledge of the organization and Mystic history. We are thrilled to have Kim and Chelle back!
Another transition is the hiring of Tricia Cunningham as Director of Development. Tricia was President of the Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce for 7 years, and more recently Director of Development and Community Relations at Fairview Odd Fellows Home in Groton. Local resident, Tricia’s diverse connections and involvement in the community make her ideally suited for this position.
At our facility on Pequotsepos Road, we are remodeling the area around the front desk and store to better serve our members and the public. When we moved the main building entrance to the parking lot level in the 1990s, this became the gateway to DPNC funneling visitors, program participants, members and school groups through the front entry. The upper exhibit area also functions as a gathering space. The adjacent space devoted to our gift shop is a prime area in the building with natural light and views of nature out every window. After a strategic review of the store plan, we decided to transition the store to Coogan Farm and create a new multi-purpose classroom space for programs, especially suited for our popular early childhood series. This entry-level room allows easy access for parents with small children and for members with limited mobility and will include a seating area overlooking the
sanctuary providing a view through the Tulip Tree and out to the pond. The new space will also serve as a gathering spot for group orientations. Downstairs, the preschool room will be utilized as originally intended as a multi-purpose space for craft preparation and a place where teachers and staff can meet, have lunch and plan programs.
Changes are also happening around the Coogan Farm. We have installed interpretive signs at key points of interest along the main loop trail- a walk through time from pre-colonial to present that highlights the unique history of this cultural landscape and the people who helped shape it. We have marked a trail (sky blue) as a direct route linking our facilities at the Nature Center and Coogan Farm. Residents and visitors are discovering the network of paths connecting neighborhoods and businesses from Greenmanville to Pequotsepos, Mistuxet, Maritime and Clara drives, Pleasant Street and Coogan Boulevard. These greenway connections are there for the community to explore and enjoy. By foot, bike, snowshoes or skis, one can easily bypass the busy intersections around Exit 90 and enjoy the solitude, sights and sounds of nature all year long. We continue to collaborate with Avalonia, the Denisons, the Town of Stonington and other neighbors to manage and maintain this valued trail system.
Inside the John E. Avery Welcome Center, DPNC educator and artist Rob Reas is putting the finishing touches on a timeline mural that orients visitors to the history and families of the property, dating back to pre-colonial Pequots and the first European colonists, the Gallups.
Nowhere is change more evident than in the surrounding landscape. As trees lose leaves and herbaceous plants die back in response to cold weather and reduced sunlight, Farm Manager Craig Floyd and his team in the Giving Garden work hard year round to maximize production, including planning and planting for winter in our high tunnel. We have plans to add more flexible greenhouse space, where we can continue to grow root vegetables and winter-hardy food crops, providing nutritious food for our neighbors in need through the coming months.
Enjoy the magic of nature in every day and season!.