History of Kaw Valley Eagles Day
The first Eagles Day was held on Saturday, January 11, 1997 at the Lawrence Riverfront Factory Outlets Mall. The Kaw Valley Heritage Alliance (KVHA) provided the funding for this first Eagles Day with coordination from 30 various agencies and organizations. A similar event was organized in cooperation primarily with the Northern Flint Hills Audubon Society to be held at Manhattan’s Town Center on February 1, 1997. Field trips to see eagles in the wild were led by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers staff members at Perry, Clinton and Tuttle Creek lakes.
KVHA had received a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to hire a coordinator to work with various local agencies to plan the two events, which featured live bald and golden eagles, a multimedia presentation, “Eagles on the Wind,” a Native American dancer, and a panel discussion titled “Keeping Eagles Healthy,” which addressed the water quality of the Kansas River.
By 1998 the JAS and the COE had taken on the entire role of planning and publicizing Eagles Day, with some financial assistance provided through the EPA grant to KVHA. The program presentations were very similar to the first year, although JAS was able to arrange for two very talented Pottawatomie youths to demonstrate their dancing skills. One of the drummers who accompanied the dancers explained the importance of eagles to Native Americans by saying: “It flies the highest. It gets closest to God.”
The Lawrence Eagles Day continued to be held at the Riverfront Mall until the mall was closed in 2000, after which the event was scheduled on Sundays and moved to Building 21 at the Douglas County Fairgrounds. Though funding from EPA ended about the same time, JAS was able to utilize the intra-district mail system for Lawrence Public Schools to help publicize the event to elementary students. Now Eagles Day has a new home, thanks to the generosity of the Lawrence Public Schools: Free State High School at 4700 Overland Drive.
Over the years the Eagle Day planners have received significant financial and in-kind contributions from the Jayhawk Audubon Society, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks’ Chickadee Checkoff program, Western Resources (now known as Westar Energy), City of Lawrence Recycling Department, and Astaris (now known as ICL Performance Products).
In subsequent years, the format of the Eagles Day events has remained consistent, with a heavy emphasis on presenters, who educate their audiences while generously sprinkling their programs with entertainment and humor. In addition to the formal presentations, exhibits by nearly 30 community, nonprofit groups and city, state and federal agencies provide continuous opportunities for public education with their informative displays, live animals, and activities for children.
Because of the generosity of Eagles Day underwriters, the event continues to be free to the public – and popular, with attendance running nearly 1,000 each year.
The Eagle Day Committee planners welcome your attendance at its 15th Annual Eagles Day on January 22, 2011 at Lawrence Free State High School from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
First Jayhawk Audubon Society Board, 1971-72
Ruth D. Fauhl
Ruth Ann Paddock
Cynthia (Clinton) Shaw