“NAF is proud to work with The National Eagle Center as it celebrates and honors America’s eagles.”

Phil Hatlie, Senior Loan Officer, Nonprofits Assistance Fund

Established in 1989 as EagleWatch Inc., the organization initially focused on environmental stewardship through conservation, research, and education in the Upper Mississippi River region, which is home to hundreds of bald eagles. It worked to advance the bald eagle as a symbol of cultural heritage and to celebrate the eagle as a symbol of the success of federal and state endangered species recovery efforts.

EagleWatch has evolved to become The National Eagle Center, a public/private partnership between EagleWatch, the City of Wabasha and the Wabasha Port Authority. These partners constructed a 15,000-square-foot interpretive center overlooking the Mississippi River, located on 1000 feet of Mississippi River shoreline in Wabasha. The facility provides eagle, wildlife, and conservation exhibits, and several eagle observation decks complete with spotting scopes to view eagles over the adjoining Mississippi River and backwaters, as well as river traffic and other species of wildlife. In 2015 the Center had over 80,000 visitors, with about 5,000 being school field trips. 

The National Eagle Center needs to expand its services and programs. Because of a loan of 20,000 museum-quality items from Preston Cook (called the Preston Cook Collection) representing the eagle in American culture, the Center has purchased four adjacent buildings on Main Street to house a museum.  In addition to the museum, the Center wants to expand the number of its “eagle ambassadors” from the current five eagles to 10, and to expand its education space to accommodate larger crowds.

NAF is honored to work with the Center with a working capital loan to fund an expansion in staffing, particularly development staff, to renovate the existing buildings for the museum and for the education space expansion.

You also can follow the DNR’s EagleCam Live Stream and watch this year’s eaglets here. The nest is almost ready for the egg laying!