Inclusion, Diversity, Equity & Accessibility

Statement on Diversity

Monocultures in nature are unnatural and have deep, inherent weaknesses. A diverse array of species in any habitat allows symbiotic relationships, critical to the survival of the earth, to thrive. Similarly, supporting and embracing diversity among humans is critical for our survival as a single species. The United Nations Environment Program in conjunction with the UN Human Rights Office, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and over 150 countries, have consistently recognized access to nature and a healthy environment, not as a privilege, but as a human right. The human spirit needs nature.

Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center serves a diverse constituency and seeks to make the benefits of nature inclusive by equalizing the disparities in educational opportunities and access to nature, making our programming available to all, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, ability or wealth. At the crossroads of centuries of human heritage, from native peoples through today, we steward land that carries a history of conflict and injustice. We believe this heritage compels us to honor the diverse cultural past of the land by preserving it for the common good, wildlife and future generations.

Free & Reduced Admission

The DPNC seeks to make our programs more equitable by reducing financial barriers to participation and offering access to nature to all. Our trails are open to the public free of charge from dawn to dusk, seven days a week. There is a small admission fee to the our natural history museum and animal exhibits, but we participate in many organized programs that offer free and reduced admission.

Free Programs & Scholarships

Education is the bedrock of our mission. Through generous funding from grantors, foundations and community partners, DPNC provides scholarships and subsidies, and also offers many of our programs free of charge to children, families and adults.  Search “free” in our monthly calendar for these programs.

  • Day Hikes: Free hikes are held throughout the seasons at various locations throughout southeastern CT
  • Full Moon Hikes: Monthly Full Moon hikes are held at various locations throughout southeastern CT.
  • Dig Into Nature: Our free drop-off program for children ages 5 to 10. Participants learn about our local animals, plants and habitats. Funded by Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation.
  • Nature Creation Station: An inclusive, naturalist-led art studio for families with children of all abilities.
  • Scholarships: DPNC seeks grants to fund scholarships for our comprehensive programs such as camp and preschool programs. Scholarships range in value and are granted based on available funds and financial need. Questions regarding summer camp scholarships can be directed to Camp Director Jess Morris at jmor[email protected] Questions regarding preschool scholarships can be directed to Preschool Director Pauline Gaucher at [email protected]

Accessibility

Walking on natural trails can be difficult for those with mobility issues, and many of our trails traverse uneven terrain and water or stone crossings.  However, at both our woodland Nature Center campus and at Coogan Farm, historic trails, roads and pentways create routes that offer gentle grades and level ground.  DPNC also offers guided hikes at wheelchair accessible natural properties in southeastern CT. Check our program calendar for these programs, and view our trail map and descriptions to choose a hike suitable for your hiking parties’ abilities. To inquire about specific questions of accessibility, please call us at 860-536-1216.

Inclusive Programs

The EK Bunting Fund for Nature and the Arts was established in 2017 by the family of Emory “Ken” Bunting to support ongoing funding for inclusive programming for people with special needs. DPNC is excited to continue to expand our programming to make it more inclusive with the support of this generous fund. Check our monthly calendar for these and other inclusive programs!

  • Nature Discovery, a nature experience for preschool children with special needs and a caregiver.
  • Nature Creation Station, an inclusive, naturalist-led open art studio for families with children of all abilities.
  • Wheelchair Birding, Birding opportunities suitable for those with wheelchairs.
  • Sensory Friendly Hiking, Hiking for those with sensory sensitivities.

Food Equity

We believe that all people should have access to healthy, affordable and culturally significant foods. The Coogan Farm Giving Garden teaches people how to be self-sufficient by growing their own food in harmony with the earth. In addition, we harvest nutritious produce weekly during the growing season. This produce is distributed free of charge to communities throughout New London County via the United Way mobile food pantry. Over the years our staff has sought feedback on the varieties of produce and herbs recipients would like us to grow, dramatically increasing the cultural and nutritional range of food we provide.

Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity, & Accessibility (IDEA) Advisory Committee

The Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center is committed to understanding and combating inequities that exist, particularly as they pertain to the environmental education field. We are committed to establishing strong diversity, equity and inclusion practices that expand inclusive access to nature. Our volunteer IDEA Advisory Committee works in various areas of DPNC to help us promote inclusive messages and programs, and ensure proper representation of our constituents and interpretation of the land we steward.  Email us if you would like to volunteer on this committee to help us advance this part of our mission.