The Rhode Island Natural History Survey awarded its 2012 Rhode Island Distinguished Naturalist Award to the late Peter Lord, Providence Journal environmental reporter and journalism co-director of the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting at the University of Rhode Island. Lord was living when his award was announced, but died of on-going health issues before he could receive his award.
The award presentation was part of the Natural History Survey’s 16th annual Ecology of Rhode Island Conference, Trends in Human – Wildlife Interaction, a topic that Lord had reported on extensively, on Thursday, March 29, 2012, at the Quonset O Club in North Kingstown. The award was presented by Lord’s co-director at the Metcalf Institute, Sunshine Menezes, and accepted on Lord’s behalf by Journal Executive Editor Thomas E. Heslin.
A resident of South Kingstown, Lord was recognized for his significant contributions to public education and outreach through his reporting on environmental issues and by preparing the next generation of environmental journalists through his teaching and leadership at the Metcalf Institute.
Lord was a Providence Journal reporter since 1979 and the paper’s award-winning environmental reporter since 1981, when he began covering such topics as water pollution, hazardous waste, suburban sprawl and declining biodiversity. He reported on every major environmental story in Rhode Island in recent decades, and he regularly reported on a wide range of natural history topics. With his experience and connections, Lord was a perfectly authoritative choice to write the Rhode Island chapter in Charles H.W. Foster’s book, Twentieth-Century New England Land Conservation: A Heritage of Civic Engagement, which was published in 2009.
Lord traveled to northern Alaska to write about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, to the Shetland Islands to cover an oil spill, and to Belize, Guatemala and Costa Rica to write about development pressures on forests. In 2002, the U.S. State Department invited Lord to take part in a two-week tour of Brazil, lecturing to journalists and journalism students about environmental journalism.
“Peter’s contributions to improving public understanding of environmental issues in Rhode Island cannot be overstated,” said Sunshine Menezes, executive director of Metcalf Institute. “He is very deserving of this recognition.”