Ellen Peterson

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Ellen Peterson
Ellen Peterson, at Happehatchee Center 2010.jpg
Ellen Peterson in Estero, Florida, 2010
Alma materUniversity of Georgia

Ellen Peterson (December 5, 1923 – October 14, 2011) was an American activist.

Early life and education[edit]

Peterson was born Yancey Ellen Salisbury in Charlotte, North Carolina [1] on December 5, 1923 to Sehlby Walker Salibsury and Yancey Long. She was a 1945 graduate of the University of Georgia[2] and earned a master's degree in counseling from Appalachian State University[3] in 1966.


Peterson founded five different non-profit environmental organizations in her lifetime and was a fierce protector of Florida's waterways and the Everglades. Peterson was a well-known environmental, and peace and justice activist who protested against nuclear power plants and coal fired plants in the Everglades and wetlands of South Florida.

She founded Save Our Creeks[4] in Palmdale, Florida[5][6] to save FishEating Creek in Glades County, Florida.

In 2006, she founded the Happehatchee Center, a nonprofit eco-spiritual center for the Lee County community that held New Age spirituality classes, in Estero, Florida.[7][8]Upon her death October 14, 2011 her estate established a trust with a board of directors charged with making the property open to the public.[9] Six months later the center was closed for two months while the programs were restructured.[9] The Happehatchee Center building acquired from the Buckingham Airfield in 1947 was declared an Individual Historic Resource by the Lee County Historic Preservation Program on November 28, 2012.[10]

Legal issues[edit]

Peterson was arrested for civil disobedience at Cape Canaveral for protesting there. She was also arrested while protesting against the School of Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia, protesting against the training of torture tactics to foreign military operatives. Her comment was "I sure do look dangerous, don't I, as a little old lady?"

Personal life and death[edit]

Peterson was married multiple times.[11] She died at the age of 87 at her home in Estero, Florida on October 14, 2011.


  1. ^ "Delayed Certificate of Birth Registration". Family Search. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  2. ^ "Conservationist of the Year Award". Family Search. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  3. ^ "Appalachian State Teachers Masters Degree". Family Search. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  4. ^ http://infoweb.newsbank.com/resources/doc/nb/news/13B3D67BC9B88A68?p=AWNB
  5. ^ "Battle over Fisheating creek". The News-Press. Retrieved 11 October 2015.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ "Senator's family key in $89M deal to protect Everglades tributary". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 11 October 2015.
  7. ^ Maryann Batlle. "Happehatchee is Estero's endangered refuge - Naples Daily News". Naples Daily News. Retrieved 11 October 2015.
  8. ^ LIANE EDIXON. "Happehatchee: Ellen Peterson creates a spiritual retreat on the Estero River". Naples Daily News. Retrieved 11 October 2015.
  9. ^ a b "Protestors not happy with temporary closing of Happehatchee Center". Naples Daily News, TRACY X. MIGUEL-NAVARRO. May 1, 2012
  10. ^ (November 28, 2012). HDC 2012 0005 Happehatchee Girl Scout Camp Caloosa. Lee County Southwest Florida Historic Preservation Program Designation Report. FSF No 8LL02622
  11. ^ LANCE SHEARER. "The hell-raiser: Ellen Peterson founded the Happehatchee Center to make the world a better place". Naples Daily News. Retrieved 11 October 2015.

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