American Eagle Foundation’s Challenger Awards were established in 2023 to honor those individuals who embody our mission pillars of Conservation, Education, and Protection.

Nominees are selected by our Executive Director and Board of Directors based on their merits and impact in safeguarding our nation’s biodiversity, particularly with respect to the bald eagle and all birds of prey.

the 2023 honorees

Challenger’s Legacy

The Challenger Awards are named after Challenger the bald eagle, a nationally recognized ambassador for his species. Over the course of his 30+ years in flight, Challenger was a symbol of educational outreach for his species.  He flew over countless major sporting events, met U.S. Presidents, government officials, and celebrities and even assisted in lobbying for important protective legislation. His outreach inspired millions to support declining bald eagle populations. When the bald eagle was delisted as an Endangered Species, Challenger was there at the White House representing our nation’s symbol. Though Challenger has since retired from free-flighted programs, he continues to teach others about the bald eagle’s triumphant return to our skies.

To honor this remarkable eagle’s continuing legacy, the Challenger Awards recognize those individuals who have left a comparable mark in the areas of conservation, education, and protection.

Click here to read more about Challenger’s important role in bald eagle conservation.

Read more about AEF’s expansion and how it will allow us to serve our mission pillars of conservation, education, and protection as never before.

For questions about the Challenger Awards Gala, please call us at 865-429-0157 or email


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