The Eagles of Hays: A Celebration of Little Victories

Open Access
Thorpe, Mckenzie Rose
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Fine Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Christine M Thompson, Thesis Supervisor
  • Simone Osthoff, Honors Advisor
  • environment
  • art
  • illustration
In 2013, history was made in Pittsburgh when a pair of bald eagles—nicknamed the Hays eagles after the neighborhood where they nested—raised a single chick in the southeast corner of the city. Despite the Pittsburgh region being traditional territory for bald eagles, none had nested successfully within city limits for over two centuries due to environmental degradation. Pittsburgh’s industrial past caused heavy pollution and near annihilation of the local environment, driving out many native species. After decades of environmental healing, the Hays eagles are a good omen for the city and the species overall, as well as a bright spot in the otherwise grim future of our planet. I wrote and illustrated a children’s book based on the story of the Hays eagles, titled The Place for Me. Younger generations are critical to the future of environmental conservation, and I hope the book will inspire readers to not only care about the environment, but to believe that humanity can learn from our mistakes and begin mending the damage we’ve done. While conversation about the environment’s future is rightfully pessimistic, if we don’t recognize the potential for improvement, then there’s little motivation to even try.