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Third Robert M. Hatcher Scholarship Winner Awarded to UTC Graduate Student Eliot Berz

Tuesday, March 05, 2019 | 03:28pm

NASHVILLE --- Eliot Berz, a graduate student at the University of Tennessee, Chattooga, is the third recipient of the Robert M. Hatcher Memorial Scholarship. He was recognized at the February 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.

          Eliot was selected for the scholarship based on his academic excellence and extracurricular activities in avian conservation. Eliot developed a deep interest in biology at a young age growing up in Chattanooga. After high school, Eliot attended and graduated from the University of the South (Sewanee) with a bachelor’s of science in environmental science and a minor in economics. He was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa National Honor Society.

            Eliot is now working with the Tennessee River Gorge Trust and, at the same time, pursuing a Master’s of Environmental Science degree at UTC. The focus of his work is to evaluate the migration paths, movements and timing of the Louisiana waterthrush and worm-eating warbler located around the Chattanooga area. Eliot is inspired to continue working in the conservation field to help protect avian habitat, educate the public, and ensure we are making informed conservation decisions.

Mr. Hatcher initiated the state bald eagle recovery efforts in the early 1980s. There are now more than 200 nesting pairs in the state. 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.