Rye Nature Center

Our 47-acre wildlife preserve has over two miles of hiking trails, ponds, streams, and granite outcroppings. The Nature Center has comfortable indoor and outdoor classrooms as well as museum space for visitors and special events.



Friends of Rye Nature Center is a non-profit organization devoted to environmental education, conservation, and community.  Our programs encourage the protection of our natural resources and promote environmental awareness in Rye and the surrounding communities.  In addition to managing and operating the Rye Nature Center, Rye’s 47-acre forest and wildlife sanctuary, the FRNC provides environmental programs and nature interpretation to over 27,000 visitors annually. FRNC has direct partnerships with Rye City School District, neighboring school districts, and other local organizations to provide nature and science study tours for people of all ages.

The Rye Nature Center is a 47-acre wildlife preserve with over two miles of hiking trails, ponds, streams, and granite outcroppings. The Nature Center has comfortable indoor and outdoor classrooms as well as a museum space for visitors.


Our Staff

The Friends of Rye Nature Center team brings a wide range of skills and specialties to the organization, but we all share the same vision – to educate children and adults about the natural world and assist them in becoming stewards of the environment.

Executive Director

Christine Siller

Education Director 

Allison Rogers

Program Director

 Mary Gillick

Associate Director of Forest Education

 Henry Myers

Associate Director of Development

 Nicole Pennucci

Environmental Educators 

Emily Embick, Katie Jamer,
Kris Karpinia, Amanda Schuster

Early Childhood Education Specialist

 Rachael Pothula

Outreach Educator

 Siobhan Prout


Gennaro Ferraro


 Lisa LaBarbera


 Annette Hein

Board of Directors

FRNC’s Board of Directors consists of dedicated representatives and community leaders. They represent the board diversity of our membership and contribute significant amounts of time talent, and energy to ensure the growth of the Nature Center as a non-profit organization and environmental education facility.


Lisa Sandler


Catherine Bischoff

Rob O'Connor


Greg Smith


Andrew Padovano


Daniel Allen

Melissa Belleville

Rebecca Bruno

Lauren Gallagher

Caitlin Layng

Eliza McLaren

Megan Schatz

Chip Stevens

Geoffrey Teillon

Davin Thigpen

History of the Rye Nature Center


The City of Rye acquired the 35-acre Parsons tract including the remains of the home, which burned down in 1942, as well as the family’s Carriage House.

The Parsons tract was set aside as a natural area thanks to the hard work of Mrs. Bayard Read and some far-sighted citizens who saw the potential for a green space in the midst of rapid population growth and land development.

The property was established as a nature center after the Conservation Commission, made up of Mrs. Read, John Feeley, and Karl Frederick, along with local groups and garden clubs developed the property into an office and residence with a meeting room.

Mid 1960’s
The Conservation Commission and several “friends” banded together to form the Rye Conservation Society to continuously encourage development, use, and protection of the Nature Center and promote and encourage an understanding, appreciation, and study of conservation of the natural sciences.

Late 1970’s
The Conservation Society capitalized on the environmental movement of the seventies when the importance of the Nature Center as an educational and recreational facility increased and used the movement as an opportunity to expand and improve the headquarters

The Rye Nature Center became the fist nature center in the nation to be certified as an urban wildlife sanctuary by the National Institute for Urban Wildlife in recognition of the Center’s wildlife habitat management and education efforts.

The Rye Conservation Society was renamed the Friends of Rye Nature Center to reflect the organization’s main goal of providing support for the operation and growth of the Nature Center and its programs.

The City ceased funding for the Nature Center and the Friends rose to the occasion of being solely responsible for managing and funding RNC to keep the preserve open to the public as a not-for-profit environmental education center.

Present Day
The Board and Friends have continued supporting the efforts of the Nature Center allowing it to grow and prosper, showing what it truly means to be a Friend.