Cox Conserves Heroes

2014 Cox Conserves Heroes (names contain links to videos)

Arizona: Greg Clark uses his engineering expertise to save the area’s burrowing owls that nest underground. The burrows are often crushed by heavy equipment, so he has led hundreds of volunteers in a movement to create artificial burrows. More than 500 displaced owls have successfully been relocated. Nonprofit of choice: Wild At Heart. 

Atlanta: Bob Scott puts his lawnmower to use to create and maintain a new trail leading people to Peachtree Creek. Scott is building an urban refuge in the heart of metro Atlanta and sharing trail maps with neighbors to encourage outdoor activity. He brought neighbors together through a Georgia Conservancy Greenspace Visioning program, and they now have a shared goal to connect the BeltLine and Emory through five miles of walking trails. Nonprofit of choice: South Fork Conservancy.

Louisiana: Matt Thomas helps preserve Baton Rouge’s lake system to provide a safe, healthy and beautiful setting for local citizens and visitors to enjoy. He organizes work days to remove invasive plants and debris that cause water quality problems. The area is frequently used by fans attending sporting events, so Thomas installed trash bins to prevent littering. Nonprofit of choice: The University Lakes Improvement and Preservation Association (TULIPA). 

Orange County: Frank Capolupo brings educational tours to life for children, inspiring them to learn more about the ocean and how it impacts our lives. He also speaks at local clubs and organizations about the importance of environmental education and ocean awareness. Nonprofit of choice: Ocean Institute 

Santa Barbara: Inspired by her two-year old daugher, Rebecca Claassen used her healthcare background to educate local citizens on the impact of toxins in the local water supply. She’s been the catalyst behind creating a group of informed and engaged volunteers who promote clean water. Nonprofit of choice: Environmental Defense Center.

San Diego:  Mel Lions cultivates, empowers and educates sustainable food communities within San Diego. He mentors students and other volunteers in farm tasks and interactive tours at Wild Willow Farm. By teaching sustainable food practices, he is affecting the way food is grown and reducing negative impacts to the local ecosystems. Nonprofit of choice: San Diego Roots Sustainable Food Project.

Virginia: Brian Batteiger builds new trails and prevents erosion on older trails. His work enables outdoor exercise and connects hikers and mountain bikers with areas such as Carvins Cove. His volunteer work with Pathfinders for Greenways extends beyond trail building to include website development, equipment maintenance and volunteer recruitment. Nonprofit of choice: Pathfinders for Greenways  

2013 Cox Conserves Heroes

Arizona: Brad Lancaster educates the community on the benefits of rainwater harvesting and planting native, food-bearing shade trees. He leads a team of volunteers to provide neighbors with fresh and nutritious local food products. His annual tree planting events have resulted in 1,500 new trees. Nonprofit of Choice: Desert Harvesters and Green Infrastructure Planning

Atlanta: John Gordon's volunteer work helps reduce crime, establish greenspace, clean up trash and empower residents for sustainable change. He leads the Teen Summer Clean Up Program where local teens help beautify the neighborhood. He also transformed a vacant lot into the English Avenue Community Urban Farm to provide greenspace and access to fresh produce. Nonprofit of choice: Friends of English Avenue 

Louisiana: Bart Everson's volunteer service has been critical in creating a rail-to-trail opportunity in the heart of New Orleans. The 3.1 mile trail links the French Quarter, Tremé, Mid City and Lakeview to create a safe non-motorized transportation route. An annual hike of the route has grown from 3 to 400 participants. Nonprofit of choice: Friends of Lafitte Corridor.

Orange County: Alice Apkarian has volunteered weekly for the past five years as a museum docent at the Environmental Nature Center, helping to increase the community’s knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the natural world. She volunteers mostly “behind the scenes,” supporting staff as they educate more than 18,000 students who visit the center each year. Nonprofit of choice: Environmental Nature Center

San Diego: As a member of the River Rescue team and San Diego River Park Foundation volunteer corps, Barbara Palan has worn a broad range of hats, from answering phones and serving as a native plant docent to leading hikes and planting trees. Nonprofit of choice: San Diego River Park Foundation

San Francisco Bay Area: Lynn Adams' strong leadership, tireless enthusiasm and hard work are major reasons why Pacifica’s beaches are clean. She is a powerful advocate for clean oceans to protect marine species, and her passion has inspired thousands to join her quest. She leads PBC’s Earth Day activities, which included more than 8,500 volunteers in 2013. Nonprofit of choice:Pacifica Beach Coalition

Santa Barbara: Susan Epstein is an advocate for conservation practices that have led to greener and healthier environments for thousands of children in the Goleta Valley. As a parent and Goleta School Board member, Epstein led efforts to eliminate pesticides in 120 acres of playing fields used by the district’s 4,000 students and community groups. The district’s use of alternative green practices has become a model for other county agencies and districts.  Nonprofit of choice: Center for Sustainability at Santa Barbara City College

Virginia: Bill Gordge has helped maintain Roanoke’s section of the Appalachian Trail for three decades. He helped design, build and expand the local trail network, while also teaching crews and students about sustainable trail construction. His goal is to get people of all ages outdoors to appreciate the beauty of nature. Nonprofit of choice: Pathfinders for Greenways

2012 Cox Conserves Heroes

Arizona: Melinda Gulick was selected for her long-standing commitment to and passion for Arizona's open space. By cultivating donors and working through complex financing models for the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, she built important awareness among both corporations and citizens. She also volunteers for the Desert Foothills Land Trust, McDowell Sonoran Conservancy, the City of Scottsdale Preserve Commission and the Desert Discovery Center Task Force. Nonprofit of Choice: McDowell Sonoran Conservancy

Atlanta: Donna Shearer was selected for saving the Hemlock trees in North Georgia. She leads education and treatment programs to protect the trees against the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, an invasive insect. Nonprofit of Choice: Save Georgia’s Hemlocks 

Bay Area: Charlie Bowen was selected for a decade’s worth of volunteerism. She has been the engine behind restoring and growing Berkeley's historic network of public paths. Her volunteer group turns overgrown and fenced off paths into beautiful areas for runners, tourists and walking groups. Nonprofit of Choice: Berkeley Path Wanderers Association

Orange County: Michael Beanan was selected as Orange County's 2012 Cox Conserves Hero. He leads a movement to prevent urban runoff from Aliso Creek from entering the ocean. The goal of his project is to clean the urban runoff, combine it with recycled water, decrease reliance on potable water and ultimately reduce ocean pollution. Nonprofit of choice: Laguna Bluebelt Coalition

San Diego: Sally Nelson helped raise more than $20,000 for the San Diego River Field Station. She is a founding volunteer of the Park Patrol and the Gate Keeper programs that help keep the San Diego Riverbed, trail and community safe. Nonprofit of Choice: Lakeside’s River Park Conservancy

Santa Barbara: Martin Camp volunteers for a local, urban farm to educate people on the importance of sustainable food and conserving land. From fixing aging farm equipment to building an education center, he is a hands-on volunteer who also inspires others to volunteer. Nonprofit of Choice: Fairview Gardens

Virginia: Anne Little launched Tree Fredericksburg with the goal of planting and sustaining an urban forest in our city. She has not only been successful, but she now has legions of volunteers that are dedicated to the cause- including lots of kids. Clearly focused on the future, Anne leads the city's Clean and Green Commission and also supports the local Sierra Club. Nonprofit of choice: Tree Fredericksburg

Western Washington: Laura James is an eco-friendly scuba diver and commits her time to cleaning up Earth’s oceans. She has long recognized the danger of toxins in our waters and spends time removing batteries and other pollutants from Puget Sound. In addition, Laura volunteers for search and rescue missions. Nonprofit of choice: Sustainable West Seattle

2011 Cox Conserves Heroes

Atlanta: Na'Taki Osborne-Jelks is spearheading efforts to revitalize a 26-acre urban forest preserve and nature center in the middle of a low-to-moderate income community in Southwest Atlanta. She has raised money and engaged hundreds of volunteers to manage the Outdoor Activity Center (OAC). She also led a 9-month visioning process to develop a new Master Plan to improve, enhance and ensure that the OAC meets the needs of the community. Nonprofit of Choice: West Atlanta Watershed Alliance

San Diego (Adult): Denise Stillinger brings 25 years of volunteerism to wetlands conservation. She actively protects the San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve and its watershed by leading nature walks, picking up debris and serving on the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy’s board. Most importantly, she introduces children from inland communities to the reserve in hopes of inspiring future acts of conservation. Nonprofit of choice: San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy

San Diego (Youth): Isabel Herrera translates awareness of coastal issues into action. Over the last three years, she has inspired over 1,500 people to protect the ocean. She teaches families about endangered sea turtles and how they can take simple actions toward protection, such as using canvas bags instead of plastic, as well as water supply and how to limit water usage and improve its quality. Nonprofit of choice: Ocean Discovery Institute

San Francisco Bay Area: Naftali Moed had a vision for an organic vegetable garden to teach fellow high school students about the value of organic gardening and sustainable agriculture. Under his leadership, the vision has become a reality with 10 garden beds, a chicken house and an outdoor classroom space. The garden is a living lab for science classes and a source of food for the nutrition classes. Nonprofit of choice: Pie Ranch

Virginia: Chris Clifford created new fields and park amenities for Gloucester residents to enjoy. Chris helped construct fifteen athletic fields at local schools and parks, as well as a park entrance road and a wildlife habitat pond. After building the fields, he recruited volunteers to help seed, fertilize and cut the grass to maintain the areas. Nonprofit of choice: Park Partners, Inc.

2010 Cox Conserves Heroes

Atlanta: Angel Poventud is an avid volunteer who utilizes his grassroots network to advocate environmental movements and inspire others to become involved. His weekends are spent working on BeltLine clean-up projects and helping the group convert abandoned rail corridors into parks. When not volunteering for the BeltLine, he can be found planting and mulching with Trees Atlanta. Nonprofit of choice: Trees Atlanta

New Orleans: Jenga Mwendo returned to the city following Hurricane Katrina and immediately began working to revitalize gardens. She has converted the Laurentine Ernst Garden into a vibrant space and secured the donation of a storm-damaged cottage next door for garden use as a storage shed and library. Through creative thinking and diverse donations of time, materials and talent, she is also transforming the Guerilla Garden from an overgrown lot used as a dumping ground into a beautiful centerpiece for the community. Nonprofit of choice: New Orleans Food and Farm Network 

San Diego (Adult): Mark Jorgensen has devoted hundreds of volunteer hours to help preserve land and habitat in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Mark was instrumental in creating Camp Borrego, where each year, more than 300 underserved fifth graders participate in the free three-day camp to learn about geology, paleontology, archaeology, astronomy, endangered species and global sustainability. Mark also led the charge in an annual field count of the endangered Peninsular Bighorn Sheep. Nonprofit of choice: The Anza Borrego Foundation 

San Diego (Youth): Dakotah Flowers used recyclable materials to create dolls that hold messages from children affected by AIDS living in HOKISA (Home for Kids in South Africa). These “Messenger Dolls” have been auctioned and sold at fundraising events. Proceeds directly benefit the orphaned children of HOKISA.  Dakotah has recruited friends to help create the dolls and is expanding her collection of bottles, cans and other revenue-producing recyclables so she can use her creativity to create new items to sell to benefit local causes. Nonprofit of choice: Chula Vista Nature Center

San Francisco Bay Area: Bruce Beyaert founded the Trails for Richmond Action Committee (TRAC) with its mission of completing the San Francisco Bay Trail in Richmond. Due largely to Bruce’s ongoing efforts, Richmond will have over 28 miles of Bay Trail built by the end of 2010. Bruce created strong alliances for completing the Bay Trail in Richmond and built a support group of more than a 1,000 members. Nonprofit of choice: San Francisco Bay Trail Project

Western Washington: Jan Holmes volunteer work with Beach Watchers inspired her to earn a master’s degree in Marine Biology, which led to the health of the area’s marine environment. Her leadership created extensive research and data collection on more than 30 beaches, and her thirst for knowledge is contagious. She frequently spoke with students and at public education events to motivate others to get involved. Nonprofit of choice: WSU Island County Beach Watchers 


2009 Cox Conserves Heroes

Atlanta: Don Wells is an avid advocate for conserving - and enjoying - the open spaces of the North Georgia Mountains. He designed and managed the creation of new recreation facilities at no cost to the state and involved counties. He also contributed to the creation of the Amicalola Falls handicap access trail, 18 miles of scenic trails and an interactive trail designed for a therapeutic riding program. Don makes it possible for people of all ages to enjoy the North Georgia Mountains. Nonprofit of choice: Mountain Stewards

San Diego (Adult): John Willett, a World War II veteran, has been volunteering for the Otay Valley Regional Park for more than two decades. All told, this 88 year old’s cleanup and restoration efforts have removed 700 tires, 1,400 tons of trash and 150 homeless encampments from the park. As chairman of the Citizen’s Advisory Committee, John helps address and solve park issues such as vandalism, trash and homeless encampment. Nonprofit of choice: Wildcoast

San Diego (Youth): Sonya Vargas volunteered countless hours – more than 200 to be sure – as a Steering Committee Member for the Wetland Avengers’ Campeones de los Canones - a community-based habitat education and restoration event. Sonya’s passion and commitment to her community resulted in the recruitment of more than 950 volunteers who planted 2,500 native plants, restored two acres of canyon, created a school garden, and designed an outdoor classroom. Nonprofit of choice: Aquatic Adventures

San Francisco Bay Area: Lennie Roberts has volunteered thousands of hours toward natural resource preservation over a span of 40 years. She worked to protect the natural beauty of and public access to Edgewood Park, the Peninsula Watershed and San Bruno Mountains by successfully lobbying for power lines to be routed underground rather than criss-crossing the land. Lennie gives unwavering support to land conservation through her grassroots efforts and keen knowledge of environmental laws. Nonprofit of choice: Committee for Green Foothills

Western Washington: Gary Colley helped create permanent protection of a 38-acre farm. Gary’s donated legal work has been a key element in protecting more than 1,500 acres of land since he and other local citizens established North Olympic Land Trust in 1990. The land in Clallam County protects salmon and other wildlife habitat, sustainable commercial timberland, clean water and air, scenic vistas, open space and cultural heritage areas in addition to farmland. Nonprofit of choice: North Olympic Land Trust

2008 Cox Conserves Hero

Western Washington: Mike Town was the program's first Cox Conserves Hero. Mike helped turn the Wild Sky Wilderness Act into law. He founded a local grassroots group, spent hundreds of hours documenting every component of Wild Sky - 106,000 acres near Skykomish - and consulted members of Congress and the press on boundary issues. As a result, a new wilderness was created this past April within an hour’s drive of nearly one million people. Nonprofit of choice: Washington Wilderness Coalition