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About Us

Our mission is to foster an awareness of Florida birds and other wildlife through exploration and conservation.

Leadership Team

Brenda Curtis (Bren)


Nancy Leipold


Sandy Artman



Jerry Larson

Jerry Larson

Rob Mills

Rob Mills

Lori Larson

Lori Larson

Kerry Bowers

Kerry Bowers

Phyllis Cady

Phyllis Cady

Pete Quasius

Pete Quasius


Rob Mills

Audubon Pennington Park

Bren Curtis

Conservation Chair EVCO Representative, SW FL Regional Conservation Committee Delegate to AF

Mike Krzyzkowski Vikki Carpenter

Library Backpack Kits

Mike Tintner


Cathy Olson


Gregg Klowden

College Scholarship

Phyllis Cady

Publicity and Facebook

Rob Mills

CHEC Representative

Larry Linn


Mike Krzyzkowski

Speaker Program

Bob Winter

CHNEP Representative

Sue Galvin


Rob Mills

Yard & Garden Certification


The purpose of Peace River Audubon Society is to engage in educational, scientific, investigative, literary, historical, philanthropic and charitable pursuits. Objectives fall into three primary areas: Birding, Conservation, and Education. In practice, it is not possible to neatly divide the objectives as stated in the PRAS bylaws into categories. As such, they are presented here in no specific order.


1. To foster the protection and wise use of all natural resources of our beautiful Earth;

2. To inspire through education, public awareness of nature, and the need for protecting native flora and fauna, soil, air, and water, as well as the interdependence of these several natural resources;

3. To study and conduct research with relation to the scientific facts, including but not limited to natural science and ecology, a essential knowledge for the formulation of sound policies in the field of conservation;

4. to foster recognition of the need for preservation of such environmental conditions as ample food, water and cover upon which birds and animals depend for survival so all thrives together in integrated biodiversity;

5. To foster the preservation of an adequate populations of native animals and plants, so that no native species may become threatened with extinction;

6. To promote the protection and preservation of natural resources, including the encouragement, establishment, and maintenance of natural sanctuaries and estuaries;

7. To foster environmental education to encourage and promote the preservation of tracts of natural land, particularly in or near urban areas, and the establishment and maintenance of facilities and programs which will bring about a better understanding by children and adults in our natural world;

8. To publish and distribute documents, as means of disseminating information about the subjects mentioned above or related matters;

9. To accumulate and maintain such documents and records as will constitute a history of the movement to conserve natural resources in the State of Florida;

10. To hold meetings, lectures, exhibitions as well as to maintaining an online library with an inventory of these events in the interest of sharing conservation documentations;

11. To establish and maintain such educational projects as nature trails, nature centers, exhibits, tours and camps;

12. To encourage cooperation among affiliated groups and other organizations in sympathy with the stated aims of this local Audubon chapter, Florida Audubon and National Audubon;

13. To colaborate and cooperate, as the occasion permits, with national and state agencies, and with private and public associations and foundations devoted to the interests of conservation and to share education in the field of natural resources;

14. To further by all means, that which is both wise and opportune, the objectives included within in an equitable, diversified and inclusive manner.

15. The Peace River Audubon Society is organized exclusively for charitable, educational, and scientific purposes including, for such purposes, the making of distributions to organizations that qualify as exempt organizations under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 (or the corresponding provision of any future United States Internal Revenue Law).


In the spring of 1977 a group of Charlotte County citizens got together and decided to form a new Audubon chapter. Joanne and George Griffin wrote a letter to Florida Audubon and began the process. They needed 35 members and started to recruit interested parties. By June, they had collected 37 Charlotte County residents interested in bird walks, conservation, native plants, wildlife, kayaking and meetings with speakers. Some key community leaders became founding members. David Wilson III was the first President for the first two years and Jerri Gingerich became the Executive Vice President for the first five years. David was Treasurer for three more years in addition to being editor for the White Bird monthly newsletter. Florida Audubon accepted the application and the first meeting was held June 28, 1977.

Founding the Charlotte Harbor Environmental Center

Peace River Audubon was one of four organizations that founded an environmental education organization in Charlotte County. The history of the name Charlotte came from Great Britain’s Queen Charlotte, after Spain lost Florida to the British in 1780. The harbor, county and a state preserve claimed the name. Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park is comprised of 43,404 acres and protects more than 100 miles of shoreline along Charlotte Harbor in Charlotte and Lee Counties. In 1983, Charles Caniff, President of Peace River Audubon wanted to “raise public awareness of the value of our natural and cultural resources by providing environmental education, recreation, research and management of conservation lands.” The Peace River Audubon, the Charlotte County Board of Education, the city of Punta Gorda and the Charlotte County Government joined together to establish The Charlotte Harbor Environmental Center nicknamed CHEC in 1987 within the state Preserve. Carol Leonard took a 2 year break from her Marine Biology classes at Lemon Bay High School to create the field trip programs for second and fourth grade elementary students. A nature center building was built to honor Charles Caniff inside the park. Later in 1992, Cedar Point Park, Englewood was purchased by Charlotte County to be included in the environmental programs of CHEC. Trails were established in 1995 and the Visitor Center opened to the public in 1998. Mote Marine Laboratory’s historic first building called the Cookie House was moved within the park which originated from Dr. Eugenie Clark’s 1955 Cape Haze Marine Laboratory. The Lab moved to Sarasota County and was renamed to honor a major benefactor, William R. Mote. Cape Haze Marine Lab history is documented in the 2010 book “The Lady and the Sharks” by Dr. Clark.

Audubon Pennington Park

In 1984 General Development Corporation (GDC) deeded 10 acres of land on a peninsula to Charlotte County and Commissioner Tom Frame brought it to the attention of Peace River Audubon. GDC had planned to create a lake but decided that it was too expensive and the peninsula had some old growth trees. The county was interested in creating an urban park which would cost less to develop so Peace River Audubon volunteered to help develop a plan. Some Peace River Audubon members (Francis G. McGovern, Charles Derrick, Charlie Caniff and Dave Wilson) held several planning meetings and took tree inventories of the area. Then they bought 70 Slash Pine seedlings and 700 Long Leaf Pine seedlings to be planted in 1988 to create a Pine Flatwoods landscape. They discovered an upland area with Maple, Salt Bush and Cabbage Palm which was home to five Gopher Tortoises. They explored a transitional area with Dahoon Hollies, Live Oak, Laurel Oak, Elm, Red Maple, Sweet Gum and Southern Cedar and Southern Wax Myrtle. The peninsula is surrounded by the Elkcam waterway canal on three sides ending in a southern cypress swamp. In 1989, a retired teacher from Sallie Jones Elementary School named Betty Pennington donated her properties in the nearby community of Cleveland to Peace River Audubon. The Audubon used the proceeds of the sale of her properties to develop this urban park since her lots were residential lawns. Charlotte County and Peace River Audubon named the park Audubon Pennington Park in her honor. A Laurel Oak Tree was planted and her memorial sign was erected in the park. It is a unique urban park with an undisturbed hammock of old live oak trees, a pine flatwoods area and a small cypress swamp. A mile of trails were established through the three elevations. Peace River Audubon entered into a 99 year lease with the county to manage the land as a natural area for $1 a year.

Founding Members:

George Griffin

Joanne Griffin

Jerri Gingerich

David Wilson III

Carolyn Wilson

Martha Turner

Mr. & Mrs. Lippner

Bob Taylor

Lorrain Davis


Wanda Jaworski

Robert Bream

Suzanne Schneider

Viiola Messner

Mr. & Mrs. Osborn

David Pius

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Willima Stanko

David Polansky

Alva Nation

Lynn Gilbert

Jerri Stallcup

James Layne

Claude and Rick Page

Doug and Jackie Fry

Allen Crouch

Frank and Marilyn Goody

Sue Gilleo

John Mossler

Liz Ratermann

Jessie & Bonnie Bauer

Rufus Willes

Virginia, Larry & Jack


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“You represent a whole new breed of American heroes, people that are making investments in our environment today that are bound to pay dividends for the kids tomorrow -- people like Charles Caniff from Porter Goss's own district in Florida. Charles helped found the Port Charlotte Harbor Environmental Center, a unique partnership between the private sector, local government, and public schools.

And, Charles -- where is Charles? Right here. Congratulations, sir. People like you do represent the power of voluntarism, the power of those that might be physically challenged and the power of an idea whose time has come -- the grassroots effort to build a better America, where the quality of our environment matches the quality of our dreams.

Already we've come a long way, not only as a planet but as a people. And in the not so distant past, the skies of our cities were being blanketed with clouds of pollution and American rivers were being filled with sewage and industrial waste, and we were squandering our vital natural heritage. But in recent years, we have seen a new attitude -- a return, if you will, to the conservation ethic of Teddy Roosevelt and the birth of a worldwide environmental movement that started right here in the United States.”

2016 newsletter

Download Peace River Audubon Society Bylaws

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