Graduate student in English works with raptors, designs game day lures

Photo of Robyn Miller with design

Doctoral student Robyn Miller wears many hats -- by day she is a doctoral student earning her degree in English and teaching classes at Auburn University. Part-time, she volunteers at the Southeastern Raptor Center (SRC) where she works with the eagles and other raptors. At other times, she is an artist who is sharing her love for the raptors and designing the game day lures and jesses used during the pre-game eagle flight in Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Miller is one of several volunteers helping the SRC design the eagle lures and jesses that will once again be auctioned to Auburn football fans this season. Each lure and jess is handmade of leather and is unique to the specific game.

“The auction is a way that Auburn fans can obtain a one-of-a-kind piece of Auburn football history, while at the same time, support the eagles and programs at the raptor center,” Andrew Hopkins, a raptor specialist at the SRC and one of the trainers for the Auburn eagles, said. “The leather is either painted, burned or stamped with the design. Typically the lures feature each team and are dated.”
Like the other SRC volunteers, Miller says she got involved simply out of a great interest in education, the outdoors, conservation and an interest in the eagles.

A Kennesaw, Ga., native Miller has volunteered at the SRC for five years. “Every year, I help to design the eagle lures and I see my work as a way to give back to Auburn by doing something that I really enjoy."

“I have always been interested in education and conservation, and in the rehabilitation of raptors,” Miller adds.

Jesses are cuffs worn around the eagle’s ankles with straps to assist the handler in securely holding the eagle. The lure is used by the handler to entice the eagle to land midfield and often has talon marks from being used. The items are handmade and uniquely decorated by volunteers or staff of the

Southeastern Raptor Center and are used one time – during the Auburn eagle’s pre-game flight.

“We have to get approval from both Auburn and its opponent school for each lure,” Hopkins said. “Once we have approval for the designs, the lures are produced and readied for the auction and use on that specific home game day.”

The online lure and jesses auction is on the SRC website. Fans can check out photographs of the lures and jesses, and place bids on the center’s website. Each auction will open at the same time – 2:30 p.m. on Thursdays prior to the home game and close on Monday after the game at 2:30 p.m. Money raised from the auctions support the center’s mission of rehabilitation, education and conservation.

“These items are truly a rare piece of Auburn memorabilia and something every Auburn fan will want to own,” said Dr. Jamie Bellah, director of the Southeastern Raptor Center and head of the Department of Clinical Sciences at the College of Veterinary Medicine. “We are proud to offer these items to Auburn fans in support of the educational mission of the raptor center.”

Lure Auction Schedule:
•    Sept. 16, Mercer. The Auction will open Sept. 14 and close Sept. 18
•    Sept. 30, Mississippi State. The Auction will open Sept. 28 and close Oct. 2
•    Oct. 7, Ole Miss. The Auction will open Oct. 5 and close Oct. 9
•    Nov. 11, Georgia. The Auction will open Nov. 9 and close Nov. 13
•    Nov. 18, Louisiana-Monroe. The Auction will open Nov. 16 and close Nov. 20
•    Nov. 25, Alabama. The Auction will open Nov. 23 and close Nov. 27

The College of Veterinary Medicine is the South’s oldest and nation’s seventh oldest veterinary medical program, celebrating 125 years. We prepare individuals for careers of excellence in veterinary medicine, including private and public practice, industrial medicine, academics, and research. The college provides programs of instruction, research, outreach, and service that are in the best interests of the citizens of the state of Alabama, the region, the nation, and the world.


This article was written by Mitch Emmons (, from the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine. 


Last Updated: April 04, 2018