The Robert M. Hatcher Ornithological Scholarship Fund
The American Eagle Foundation (AEF) in cooperation with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) released a Bald Eagle near the Cumberland River in Nashville on Tuesday, July 15th, 2014 at the Bell's Bend Park. This release honored Robert M. Hatcher, who initiated Tennessee's Bald Eagle recovery efforts in the early 1980s. The eagle was named “Hatcher’s Legacy.”
Mr. Hatcher lost his courageous battle with cancer in July of 2014. The AEF and TWRA arranged this special eagle release to honor and thank 76-year-old Robert M. Hatcher for his dedication to helping bring our nation's living symbol, the Bald Eagle, back from the brink of extinction. He served as the Non-Game and Endangered Species Coordinator for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency from 1978 to 2001 and served TWRA for a total of 38 years.
The name Robert M. Hatcher is practically synonymous with the phrase "Bald Eagle recovery in Tennessee". In the 1960s and '70s, Bald Eagles were on the brink of extinction, with only about 400 nesting pairs in the lower 48 states and no known eagle nests in Tennessee. Since then, strict protection laws, the banning of DDT, and dedicated restoration and recovery efforts have helped restore this majestic species to America's skies. As of January 2014, there are about 143 successful Bald Eagle nests in Tennessee. From these nests, around 250 eaglets fledged in 2013. As of today, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, American Eagle Foundation and other partners have released 358 captive-hatched or translocated eaglets into the wilds of Tennessee.
TWRA Executive Director Ed Carter announced that the establishment of an annual scholarship fund named in honor of Robert M. Hatcher, to be awarded to a biology student with an concentration in Ornithology. The scholarship will be administered by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation.
Megan Hart, a graduate student at Austin Peay State University, was the first recipient of the Robert M. Hatcher Memorial Scholarship. The $1,000 scholarship was presented to Megan on August 15, 2016, on the campus at Austin Peay with members of the Hatcher family, members of her family, and officials from the TWRA, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation, and the Tennessee Ornithological Society.
The second recipient of the Robert M. Hatcher Memorial Scholarship was presented to Mackenzie Roeder, a graduate student at Austin Peay State University. Mackenzie was recognized and presented the award at the January meeting of the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission on January 25, 2018.
Mackenzie is a graduate biology student at Austin Peay. She will be graduating early to begin Ph.D. position with SHARP (the Salmarch Habitat and Avian Research Project) at the University of Maine. Her plans for the future after completing her doctorate are to use her skills in molecular biology and evolutionary ecology to help conserve threatened and endangered birds and their habitats.
Mackenzie is also the recipient of the Kautz-Thorwell Scholarship, the APSU graduate student research support grant, the Presidential Volunteer Service Lifetime Achievement Award (for dedicating more than 4,000 hours to volunteer conservation service), and the APSU Summa Cum Laude Academic Achievement award for maintaining a 4.0 GPA.
A native of a small town in the Catskill Mountains in New York, she inherited her love of birds from her great-grandmother. She has spent the past 10 years leading bird-watching hikes at wildlife refuges and caring for injured and orphaned birds at wildlife rehabilitation clinics. During her undergraduate years, she became interested in molecular biology and earned two bachelor’s degrees, one in forensic science and the other in biology. She assisted with the Missouri Ozark Forest Ecosystem Project’s and later joined AmeriCorps and worked at Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge in Illinois.
Click here to read more about the first recipient of the Robert M. Hatcher Scholarship Award.
If you would like to contribute to the Robert M. Hatcher Ornithological Scholarship Fund, your tax deductible donation can be sent to:
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation
5000 Linbar Drive, Suite 275
Nashville, TN 37211
or donate online below.