Over 30 Years of Survival & Success
By AEF Founder/President Al Cecere
“Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
The primary reason that I have personally been able to have the vision, strength, and hope to pursue and/or play a part in any of the accomplishments that the American Foundation has achieved since 1985 is because of my faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and my Heavenly Father…to Whom I look to each and every day for direction, favor and provision.
I wish to thank and acknowledge the many individuals, companies and organizations for their current and past support, as each and every one of them have been important and welcomed blessings in my and the AEF’s pathway.
~ Al Cecere
There are truly far too many people and entities that have helped, assisted and/or supported our organization’s cause over the years, but, none-the-less, we’d like to recognize as many of them as possible, as follows.
The Dollywood Company
In 1990, the American Eagle Foundation entered into a multi-year corporate partnership with the Dollywood Company and cooperated with them to design and develop the United States Eagle Center at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
As AEF’s official sponsor, the Dollywood Company has been essential to the growth, development, and success of the Foundation and its mission to conduct public environmental education, care daily for non-releasable birds of prey, rehabilitate raptors, and execute a successful Bald Eagle breeding/release program.
We are grateful for Dolly Parton and Dollywood leadership for supporting us through the years and engraining the AEF’s mission into the culture and mission of the Dollywood theme park.
Special Thanks to: Ken Bell, Gene Scherrer, Judy Ward, Ted Millar, Barbara Joines, Pete Owens, Jason Boothe, Morgan Duckworth, Michelle Dillion.
Dr. Mike Jones & University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine
The American Eagle Foundation works closely with Dr. Mike Jones, DVM (who specializes in Raptor Biomedicine and Avian Emergency Medicine and Critical Care) and the UT College of Veterinary Medicine to ensure the health of the AEF’s resident raptors and also to successfully rehabilitate injured wild birds of prey.
AEF Staff : We greatly appreciate the hard work and many contributions of our current staff and team members:
Al Cecere, Joanne Cheponis, Karen Wilbur, Bethany Pack, Laura Sterbens, Julia Cecere, Mike Acuff, Michelle Bauer, Spencer Williams, Beth Parker, Christian Knatt, Madison Abell, Katelyn Dotson, Lindsay Bellaw, Kayla Jackson, Nancy Zagaya, Carolyn Stalcup, Craig Strong, Mary King, Crystal Slusher, Melissa Burge, Frank Hernandez, Danita McCloud, Gretchen Cecere, Jr.
AEF Board of Directors and Advisory Team: We give special thanks to our loyal board members: Al Cecere, Bobby Halliburton, Jim Marietta, Spencer Williams, Courtney Lewis, Laura Sterbens, and Jesse Lewis.
AEF Volunteers: The AEF couldn’t operate as efficiently without our dedicated and loyal volunteers who weekly donate their time- Barbara Rushing, Terry Sherred, John Douglas Prickett, Janine Orlando, Martha Madigan, Gerry Madigan, Lindsey Haley, Joe Chapman, Alan Duncan, Barry & Alicia Wylie, and Karen & Kevin Buynie.
Bald Eagle Grant Advisory Team (BEGAT): We appreciate the time and efforts of the AEF BEGAT- Jody Millar, John Antonio, Sr., Dr. Mitchell Byrd, Deb Hahn, Henry Messing, Tom Murphy, Paul Nickerson, Dr. Larry Niles, Peter Nye, Mark Shieldcastle, Alexander Smith and Karen Steenhof, Dr. Bryan Watts, Bob Hatcher (past), and Dr. Bob Anthony (past).
AEF Eagle Nest Camera Team ~ Moderators and Camera Operators: The success of the Dollywood and NEFL Eagle Nest Cameras can be contributed to our dedicated past and present Moderators, Zoomers, and the volunteers and crew who participated in the initial stage of building and set-up.
Mods/Zoomers: Elaine Black, Rick Black, Jerry Blankenberg, Paula Brophy, Peggy Bryan, Gretchen Butler, Carol Caesar, Patty Fernandez, Marsha Gagnon, Karen Kemp, MarthaAnn Madigan, Joleen Maiden, Laurie McCann, Cathy Poer, Crystal Slusher, Carolyn Stalcup, Lori Staudt, Cindy Trudeau, Parker Allen, Carolyn Foley, Mike Baker, Dave McGraw, Debi Chernisky, Diane McKinney and Marianne Wilson.
Cam Installation and on-site technical and ground support: Al Cecere, Laura Sterbens, Julia Cecere, Craig Strong, Kevin Tierney, James Sessions, Doug Lafortune, Brian Gould, Richard Cervi, Chris Cuyler, Gretchen Butler, John Butler, Amy Winter, Lori Staudt, Ginny Cataldo, Diane McKinney, Bret McKinney, Glenn Gouldey, Tom Cusa, Joe & Judie Dziak, Barry Kloptosky, City Firefighters, Bright House Networks technicians, Adam Phillips (contractor for Jaguar Technologies), Chris Brey (Ustream), Dan Dumais (Axis), Julio Ramos (Axis), Tom Cusa (Axis), Stephen Girard (Axis) , Nick Biagioni (Axis), Arlen Panchoo (Chatroll), Jason Click and Doug Petruska (101 Security in Jacksonville), Paul Marecek (Angel-Cam), Jaguar Technologies and contractor Adam Phillips.
AEF Past Staff, Board Members, Interns, and Volunteers:
Bob Hatcher, Brittney Barajas, Sarah Patterson-Pope, Rob West, , Danielle Steckley, Christine Blackwell, Kevin Buchanan, Danielle Dickerson, Kelli Morrison, John Paul Cortes, Cindy Maynard, Kay Mauer, Morgan Reale, Richie Burdeaux, Gretchen Kiersz, Rebecca Krebs, David Hawkins, Drew Schaeffer, Peter McManus, Dan Stockdale, Brent McCarty, Shellene McCarter, John Stokes, Adam Keniger, Dale Kernahan Stokes, Katie Duhe, Jenna Conforti, Courtney Luttrell, Dale Rice, Jim Heptinstall, Tim Douglas, Chris Douglas, Dale Liner, Misty LaPrees, Brad Russell, Della Kurtz, Patricia Lynn, Jordan Jones, Stacy, Amy Clark, Stephanie Charles, Patricia Lynn, Sharon Dale, Kelli Edson, and Stacy Dean.
Board of Directors, Honorary Board, and Honorary Chairpersons
Bill Czinke, Joe Spivey, Steve Compton, Jeff McGee, Tom Cecere, James Rogers, Ralph McDonald, Ricky Skaggs, Jack Hanna, Gene Autry, Kyle Petty
Hannah Hughes, Jenna Penland, Rachel Womack, Sondra Bergman, Hannah Start, Dillon Frazier, Megan Richardson
Dolores Jones, Henry Slusher, Tabitha Slusher, Katie Allis-Paredes, John Wilbur, Jim & Maureen Brown, Elijah Gray, Tanner Rowell, Cindy Atkins, John Buchanan, Crystal Mackin, Coral Mackin, Bill Mackin, Karen Scott, Patrick McManus, Mason Dickerson, Steve Estebo, Bob Lucas, Robbie Palmer, LeAnn Jennings, Karen Hall, Grace Stottlemyer, Cheryl Wilkins, Michelle Cheponis, Mike Ozman, Dylan Morrison, Martin Gary, John Veloski, Pam Carey, Alan McCarter, Kendall McCarter, Darryl & Lila Stewart, Stephen Stack, John Shields, Dan Wilder, Akiima Price, Joel Newman, Theresa Orr, Ken Driesenga, Tracy Harmon, Frank Palacios, Eleri Thomas, Libby Lydy, Josh DeWitt, Jason Christensen, Tabetha Morris, Kelsey Miller, Mindi Winnie, Michelle Cooper, Marcee Lettinga, Tara Leach, Tanya Rentz, Charlie Robinson, Aaron Anderson, Lisa Williams, Dawn Elberson, Barbara Swimm, Jonathan Gilbert, Gary Luciano, Joe Whisman, Clint Ball, Alisa Esposito, James Boutette, Dr. David Ratliff, Mike Ewell, Angie Morales, Kelli Edson, Stacy Dean, Lauren Hall, Tom & Sally Dykes, Norm & Bobbie Kallemeyer, Jayne Rahe, and all our American Eagle Festival volunteers.
Major League Sports Teams, Collegiate Sports Teams, Companies, and Individuals who have donated to the AEF and allowed Challenger the Eagle to educate the masses at their respective venues and events:
Tennessee Titans, Philadelphia Eagles, Houston Texans, San Diego Chargers, Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs, NFL Pro Bowl, University of Michigan, University of Tennessee, Georgia Southern University, High Point University, Louisiana State University, Kansas State University, University of Kansas, Florida State University, Oklahoma State University, Boston College, University of Connecticut,, AFC Championship, BCS National Championships, Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, Insight Bowl, Cotton Bowl, NCAA National Championship, MLB World Series, New York Yankees, Texas Rangers, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Kansas City Royals, Atlanta Braves, San Francisco Giants, Florida Marlins, Anaheim Angels, Houston Astros, Durham Bulls, Fox Sports/ Daytona Motor Speedway, AAA California/ Texas Motor Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Field & Stream Stores, Verizon Wireless, Starkey Hearing Foundation, Huizenga Foundation, Aksarben Foundation, Southern Wine and Spirits, Horatio Alger Society, Celebrity Fight Night, Life Changing Lives Foundation, Crown Council, Equipovision, Choice Hotels, Nationwide Insurance, Blackberry Farms, Snap-On-Tools, Whitney and Pratt, Mutual of Omaha, Disney World, NRA, National Wild Turkey Federation, Ceo Space, Go Daddy
Companies, Organizations, and Individuals
- Delta Airlines and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Since 1995, Challenger the Bald Eagle has traveled coast to coast, performing free flight demonstrations at Major League and college sporting events and conventions. Delta Airlines and TSA has taken extraordinary interest in Challenger and the AEF on the corporate level and have granted special permissions and handling protocols (to be followed at every airport in the US) to ensure the safety of this iconic bird. At each airport that Challenger travels through, he and the AEF team are provided with special security screenings, permission to load and unload Challenger planeside from the pressurized cargo bins, and dedicated Delta and TSA staff members to accompany the AEF team throughout the travel process. The AEF is eternally grateful for the kindness and enthusiasm shown by airport representatives from across the country.Special thanks to the following Delta and TSA employees who’ve gone above and beyond to assist us in our travels – Delta: Greg Ferrell (aka Country), Johnny Wilson Jr. Julie White.
TSA: Richard Quichocho, Administrator Pistole and all TSA employees who have assisted us at airports nationwide.
- Silver Dollar City Corporation
- Baker Donelson Law Firm (Washington, D.C) – Joe Whitley and Holly Hampton
- Collen IP, Intellectual Property Law (New York) – Jess Collen
- CNB Bank
- Tennessee State Bank
- Citizen’s National Bank
- Smart Bank
- The Trust Company of Knoxville
- Lee, Danner Bass
- Fields and Allen Wealth Management Group
- Edward Jones – David Rowland
- Hickman and Weir-Leann Bowden
- Lowe’s Home Improvement
- 711 Live Printing
- Food City Stores
- Kroger Stores
- Knoxville Coca Cola Bottling
- Cinergy/Duke Energy
- William B. Stokley Foundation
- Nudo Products
- Sevier County Veterinary Clinic
- New Hope Church
- Chick-Fil-a Sevierville, Terry Rowell
- Southern Wine and Spirits- Larry & Camille Ruvo, Michael Severino, Marilyn Strong, Maria Hinkley
- Bass Pro Shops
- Charles River Laboratories
- Millacs Band of the Ojibwe
- Oneida Nation
- Miller Brewing Company
- J. Reynolds
- Anheuser Busch
- Eagle Snacks
- Tri-State Jeep Eagle
- American Airlines
- Southwest airlines
- Good Morning America
- Fox & Friends
- WBIR Channel 10
- WATE Channel 6
- WVLT Channel 8
- Knoxville News Sentinel
- Tennessee Star Journal
- Best Read Guide to Smokies
- Tennessee’s Mix (105.5)
- Nashville Tennessean
- WIVK Radio
- WSEV/Mix Radio
- The Mountain Press
- WJBZ/Praise Radio
- The Eagle 100.3
- WLYV/Love Radio, WRJZ/Joy Radio
- Laprees Advertising & Design-Gary Laprees
- Smoky Mountain Memories
- Smoky Mt. Tour Connection
- Smoky Mountain Opry
- County Tonight Theater
- Steve Ellis Tours
- Sevier County School System
State and National Government Agencies and Associations:
- Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency – Walter Cook, Scott Somershoe
- S. Fish & Wildlife Service – Carmen Simonton and Resee Collins
- United States Mint
- United States Senate
- United States House of Representatives
- National Fish & Wildlife Foundation
- Fraternal Order of Eagles
- National Park Service
- National Parks Foundation
- Animal Charities of America,
- Combined Federal Campaign
And lastly, but certainly not least, we would like to give recognition and thanks to the following individuals:
Jason Adair, Jay Adams, Carol Agee, Bruce Anderson, Dave Anderson, John Anderson, Marge Anderson, Billy Baker, Sen. Bill Frist, Don Brown, Tony Burchard, Bobby Campbell, Burma Campbell, Billy Carroll, Aaron Cecere, Louis Cecere, Sr., Mikaela Cecere, Jamie Clark, Wendi Coatney, Don Collier, D. Brian Conner, Alan Cox, Margaret Cox, Sean Currie, Congressman David Davis, Eleanor Davies, Woodrow Dawson, Dr. Denny Ryan, Bernie Dohrmann, Bob & Karen Easton, Naomi Edelsen, Steve Estebo, Jan & Keith Exum, David Fee, Sherry Flow, Ron Fox, Debbie Franklin, Mary Glannan Cecere, Lorrie Goble, Jeff Gordon, Kenny Graves, Raymond Green, Lee Greenwood, Tom Grelen, Tom Griscom, Vernell Hackett Charles Haddad, Sam Hamilton, Jack Hanna, Alan Hawkins, Jim Hedrick, Jack Herschend, Annamarie Hill-Kleinhans, Valerie Hinkell, Paul Hoffman, Sen. Howard Baker, Bill & Heidi Hummes, Ron Huntsman, Scott Hurley, Wayne & Marti Huizenga, Anthony Hutcherson, Mike Hutcherson, Lori Hylan-Cho, Greg Hylton, Julie Ingram, Tom Ingram, Congressman Jenkins, Ken Jenkins, Barbara Joines, Dick Jordan, Gretchen Keirsz, Bill Ketron, Richard Kirk, Denise Kirkwood, Kathy Kline, Mike Klug, Gil Kneir, Denise Kozul, Mary L. Wellons, Sen. Lamar Alexander, William Lee Golden, Pam Lewis, Bob Lullo, Richard Lullo, Doris Mager, Joel Manby, Louise Mandrell, Fred Marcum, Julia McCammon, Brad McClanahan, Mike McCroskey, Michael McDermott R.J. McDonald, Trish McGee, Doug Messer, Kirby Metoxin, Mike Metoxin, Dan Mitchell, Sally Moorer, Brian Montana, Tony Morante, David Morgenstern, Gary Myers, Sandy Neese, Judith Newby, Jim Niemeyer, Bob & Sarah Nixon Tim Nudo, Sean O’Connor, Ralph Ockenfels, Bob Oermann, Brenda Otterson, Gov. Pat Quinn, Bill Peterson, Fred Potter, David Provost, Sherle Raitt, Walt Richter, James Rogers, Polly Rooker, Jeanette Rudy, Judith Seiler, Nancy Sellers, Gene Shambaugh, Jim Sharp, Patricia Shield Ayers, Geri Simms, Ricky Skaggs, Donastine Smith, Earva Smith, Mike Smith, Dennis Snider, Michael Stalcup, Cal Steckley, George Steinbrenner, Stephen Steinhauser, Glenn & Mindy Stearns, John Stokes, Vicki Stokes, Art Swann, Jeff Taylor, Eric Thibault, Brad Thomas, Kevin Tierney, Steve Tillisch, Mike Turner, Debbie Tymon, Jimmy Walker, Lynn & Morris Walker, Linda Walker, Greg Wathen, Carol White, Robert Wilson, Pete Wyatt, Bill Yambert, Jim Young, Rob Younger, Brett Zion
Robert M. (Bob) Hatcher
March 22, 1938 – July 22, 2014
Bob Hatcher, Nongame & Endangered Wildlife Coordinator for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency from 1978 – 2001.
His achievements include:
Tennessee Wildlife Professional of the Year, The Wildlife Society
National Bald Eagle Person of the year, Eagle Nature Foundation
Jane Whitson Conservation Award (Tennessee), The Nature Conservancy
Distinguished Service Award, Tennessee Ornithological Society
Lifetime Achievement Award, Tennessee Chapter, The Wildlife Society.
Bob led the Tennessee Eagle Program from 1980 – 2000 and served on the Southeastern Bald Eagle Recovery Team from 1997-2001. He has written many authoritative publications on eagles.
After retiring from the TWRA in 2001, Bob served as an eagle consultant with the American Eagle Federation, responding to email questions from viewers. He was also the leader of a Bald Eagle Grant Advisory Team, advising AEF concerning its administration of an endowment fund from the Bald Eagle Commemorative Act of 2004.
Peter Nye, retired from New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation, is one of the top eagle biologists in the nation. He was a pioneer in re-establishing eagles after their population declined dramatically, due to DDT.
He is credited for bringing back the Bald Eagle to New York state.
In 1976, Peter developed a way of raising young eagles known as “hacking.” Nye and his colleagues went to Alaska, where eagles were still abundant, and gathered young. Like foster parents, they raised the young eagles back in New York in “hacking towers” until the eagles were old enough to fly. Slowly but surely, year after year, the population has continued to build. In fact, there were 70 nesting pairs that fledged 94 young Bald Eagles in New York in the summer of 2002!
Nye is also a pioneer in the high-tech migration-tracking method called “satellite telemetry.”