Nashville, TN – Mackenzie Roeder, a graduate student at Austin Peay State University, is the second recipient of the Robert M. Hatcher Memorial Scholarship. She was recognized and presented the award at the January meeting of the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission.
The $1,000 scholarship is named in honor of Bob Hatcher, who served the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency for 38 years, which included the Non-Game and Endangered Species Coordinator from 1987 until 2001. Members of the Hatcher family attended the presentation at the TFWC meeting held at the agency’s Region II Ray Bell Building.
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.
Mr. Hatcher initiated the state bald eagle recovery efforts in the early 1980s resulting in the release of 284 eagles over 22 years. He also was responsible for reintroducing osprey, river otters, endangered mussels and other species throughout Tennessee.
The establishment of the scholarship was announced in 2014 at the release of a 13-week old bald eaglet named “Hatcher’s Legacy” in his honor at a ceremony at Bells Bend Park near the Cumberland River, just outside of Nashville. The announcement came shortly before Mr. Hatcher’s death after a battle with cancer.
Mackenzie becomes the second Austin Peay graduate student in as many years to receive the scholarship award. Megan Hart was the inaugural winner in 2016.