2019 Chatter Reunion & American Eagle Day Summertime Fun!


The Chatter Wave at Dollywood. Click image for high-res version.


This year, Chatter Reunion was held on June 20-22, 2019 at Pigeon Forge, TN—and hats are off to everyone at AEF who worked so hard to make sure everyone had a great time.


AMERICAN EAGLE DAY – June 20, 2019

D Smith (foodog) was responsible for securing the North Carolina Proclamation!

Thanks to ALL OF YOU who lobbied their home state Governors for Proclamations to be issued in support of American Eagle Day. The Bald Eagle was selected as the U.S.A.’s National Emblem by our country’s Founding Fathers on June 20, 1782 by the Second Continental Congress. In 1995, at the request of the American Eagle Foundation, President Bill Clinton and Tennessee Governor Don Sundquist each recognized the first American Eagle Day. Since then, Governors from a combined total of 49 states have signed Proclamations or Letters of Recognition giving our National Bird, the Bald Eagle, its own “official day” in their state! If we can get both Houses of Congress to pass a Joint Resolution together, it will permanently establish American Eagle Day in the United States, requiring the President to issue an American Eagle Day proclamation every year. This year, a total of 46 state Governors issued AED Proclamations. In addition, both the Senate and the House recognized American Eagle Day. The Senate passed a Resolution  and Tennessee Congressman Phil Roe commemorated American Eagle Day on the House floor.


85 people from 6 different organizations participated in the Little Pigeon River cleanup. Click image for hi-res version.

Beginning with the 2018 Chatter Reunion, a conservation initiative to help protect eagles and other wildlife has been part of the scheduled activities in which Chatters can participate. This year, AEF partnered with Keep Sevier Beautiful and Keep Tennessee River Beautiful (affiliates of Keep America Beautiful) to host a river cleanup along the banks of the Little Pigeon River in Sevierville.

  • Over 85 people from 6 different organizations participated in the cleanup
  • 980 pounds of trash was removed from the river
  • Press coverage included TV, Radio, Newspaper coverage, and a live-stream on TWITCH!

Thanks to these organizations that helped with the river cleanup!


Dinner & Raffle ~ The Barn at Chestnut Springs

After a very busy day on the river, a beautiful countryside location in Sevierville was chosen for this year’s dinner & raffle. A gray weathered wood barn – beautifully renovated – was the scene of a delicious dinner and a fun-filled raffle. Items featured in the raffle included

  • Pulling the rope for Parker’s Hope hack tower release ~ won by Doreen Taylor
  • Food Fairy experience – won by Sally Herndon & Gail Weglowski
  • Dinner with Challenger – won by D Smith and Ron & Suzanne Cone
  • Blankets specially made for each nest
  • Dollywood fun package
  • Pigeon Forge fun package
  • Ken Jenkins package
  • Challenger’s 30th Birthday basket

Lots of other terrific items were also part of the raffle. Challenger made an appearance, and a good time was had by all.

Release of Eaglet “Parker’s Hope” at Hack Tower – June 21

Chatters gathered at sunrise at Douglas Lake and were transported in vans to the AEF Hack Tower where they experienced a memory to last a lifetime as they watched a young eaglet fly free. AEF Educational Nest Cam Coordinator Crystal Slusher explained to the chatters that the eaglet had been given the name “Parker’s Hope” in memory of two volunteers, Parker Allen (aka paegghead) and Hope Reed (aka birdbrain56). AEF staff thanked all volunteers for their support and Spencer Williams offered a prayer for the safety of the young eaglet. When the bar was raised on his compartment in the Hack Tower, Parker’s Hope flew after about 30 seconds, and made a strong first flight, landing safely in the trees. He wears patagial wing tag H19.

AEF Facility Tour

Click photo for high-res version

After watching “Parker’s Hope” fly free, Chatters toured the barn to see birds of prey that have found a home at the American Eagle Foundation, visited the flight areas and weathering yards, learned about the responsibilities of Avian Care Specialists, and checked out the AEF merchandise for sale. The afternoon activities were non-stop!

James Rogers Concert

You would have to look long and hard to find a more ardent supporter of the American Eagle Foundation than James Rogers! A man of amazing talent, James wrote those very famous eagle songs (When Challenger Flies, Save the Eagle, Fly Eagle Fly) that celebrated our nation’s living symbol. He also facilitated the introductions that enabled the AEF to begin a partnership with Dollywood, and now he is a member of AEF’s Board of Directors. In the past, James has provided a wonderful show for the Chatters who come from far and near, and this year they were again treated to entertainment that only James can provide.

Dollywood Finale

Dollywood is home to the American Eagle Foundation’s Wings of America birds of prey show, located in a spacious open-air theater. There, our non-releasable trained eagles, hawks, falcons, owls, and vultures perform dramatic free flights and entertain the audience with their skills and unique personalities, while Tuck is there to take your money at the end of the show!  Skilled AEF staff—Beth Parker, Brad Skinner, Carly Hamilton and others—are there to guide the birds through their performances, share the bird’s individual story with the audience, and give professional insights into the different species starring in the show. James Rogers once again was a featured performer on the Wings of America stage, and delighted the audience with his energy and talent…. reminding everyone why the James Rogers & Company show at Dollywood earned the title of “the number one most attended show in the Smokies.”

What’s Ahead for 2020?

On June 20, 2019, Laura Sterbens and Challenger appeared on Fox and Friends in New York to talk about American Eagle Day and to announce a national habitat cleanup to take place June 20, 2020. This will be an opportunity for groups and organizations all across our nation to commit to a specific conservation effort on American Eagle Day. To help facilitate this initiative, AEF has decided to forego our annual Chatter Reunion in 2020 so that our Chatters can focus on being personally involved in a cleanup project in their area. If your group or organization would like to sponsor a cleanup, please check out our Call To Action page. Our goal is to have a participating youth organization or club in every state commit to cleaning up our nation’s waterways. It could be a park, a neighborhood, a river, lake or stream – you choose! We encourage you to make it fun and make it yours…just get out and clean up for American Eagle Day 2020!