Alice Rich Northrop Memorial
Hall of Fame
For dedicated and distinguished service
Dr. Grace A. Petersen

Nature counselor 13 times between 1944 and 1960
Read her complete article "New Horizons"
from the May/June 1945 issue of Audubon Magazine,
from which the following excerpt is taken.

  "One day, ... returning from a nature walk, I overheard a young camper's voice raised in protest: "Aw, let the poor thing go, Francie! If you take him back to camp, you'll only forget to feed him half the time; and anyhow, a caterpillar doesn't like being kept in a cage...!" It was Jane speaking; ... a fortnight earlier [she] had wanted to test the powers of a "burning glass" on a swarm of foraging ants. Here then, is one good reason for the study of nature: its potency in the building of good citizenship. The child who finds that his prejudice against certain kinds of creatures -- in this case, insects -- vanishes when he becomes better acquainted with them, is more likely to carry this lesson over into his relationships with human beings and so become more tolerant of his fellow man. The child who discovers that each kind of creature has its own special function in nature's plan ceases to regard the lesser forms of life as insignificant; in recognizing their importance in relationship to the whole, he develops respect for them and thus acquires a budding sense of true democracy."

-- Grace A. Petersen (nature counselor, 1943-1960). Dr. Petersen died in 1960.

I'm honored to nominate "Doc Pete" for the Northrop Hall of Fame. Her article "New Horizons" describes not only what she believed, but also how she lived. As a nature teacher, she was patient, sensitive, informative and interesting. Once on a hike, I privately asked her something "silly" that had been bothering me. "Does a plant feel pain when it is stripped of a few leaves for study?" Tears welled up in her eyes and she gently explained why it didn't feel pain as we know pain, relieving my concern. Her sensitivity won my heart and her explanation won my mind.

She kept the spirit of Northrop vibrant during the 10 month long off season with nature hikes and adventures in New York Parks on some Saturdays. That continuity, and the loyalty it engendered, strengthens Northrop to this day.

--Gus Hercules (camper '56. '58, nature aide '60)

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