2020 Winner

Congratulations to Sherwood Bishop, the 2020 national Cox Conserves Hero. 

Honoring Volunteers

To date, the national Cox Conserves Heroes program has honored more than 200 volunteers.

Supporting Nonprofits

Since 2008, we have donated over $1.1 million to environmental nonprofits.

Inspiring Others

We hope to inspire more people to take an active role in community conservation.

Cox Conserves Heroes honors environmental volunteers who create, preserve or enhance the shared outdoor spaces in our communities.

Cox Conserves Heroes is an awards program created by Cox Enterprises and The Trust for Public Land (TPL). The program serves to honor environmental volunteers who create, preserve or enhance shared outdoor spaces in their local communities.

The goal is to inspire and encourage individuals who are making a positive impact on the planet through volunteerism and honor them with financial support to their nonprofit of choice. 

Individuals of all ages are eligible to participate in the Cox Conserves Heroes Program.

Meet Sherwood Bishop, the 2020 national Cox Conserves Hero.

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Nicole Chandler

Northeast

Nicole Chandler

Northeast

Since 2005, Nicole Chandler has worked to beautify the open lands area of Morris Park in West Philadelphia, which were once overgrown with invasive plants, littered with trash and marred by graffiti. Disturbed by its condition, Nicole committed to making a change. Her nonprofit, Keep Royal Gardens Beautiful, has held dozens of cleanups, removing and properly disposing of hundreds of tons of trash and invasive species.  

In addition, Nicole has mobilized thousands of volunteers to create garden areas, planting hundreds of flowers, vegetables and trees while generating significant in-kind donations and building an extensive network of volunteers and partnering organizations. She now hosts Tai Chi and Qigong classes. And art classes and volunteer lunches are held where illegal dumps and graffiti once plagued the park. 

Nicole also has adopted the perimeter of the Cobbscreek Golf Course and the Rose Recreation Center, helping to beautify the view to attractive landmarks in the Overbrook section of Philadelphia. 

WATCH Nicole’S VIDEO ON Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful

Aster Bekele

Midwest

Aster Bekele

Midwest

Aster Bekele has been shaping outdoor spaces in the Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood since 2004 when she created the Felege Hiywot Center. She emigrated to Indianapolis from Ethiopia and brought with her a sense of community and love of service. A retired chemist, Aster started the Youth Farm Initiative, established a food production space to give to the community, and continues to engage partners from across the city. Her focus is on youth farming, care of orphans and cultural expression.  

Through her partnership with Keep Indianapolis Beautiful (KIB), Aster developed the community garden at the center, developed Unity Park for community gathering and planting an orchard, supported the planting of hundreds of native trees throughout her neighborhood, and was among the first to adopt her block. 

Aster focuses on food as a way to connect people from different cultures. She connects immigrant children with other youth in the Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood to educate them about food production, giving back to their community and handling everyday responsibilities. As a KIB Adopt-A-Block captain since 2008, she has led cleanups to remove litter and illegal dumping across the neighborhood, improving quality of life and cleaning storm drains of litter that would otherwise pollute Indianapolis waterways. She has inspired generations of youth in the neighborhood to use their energies toward the community good. 

WATCH Aster’S VIDEO ON Keep Indianapolis Beautiful

Sherwood Bishop

South

Sherwood Bishop

South

Sherwood is a recently retired university professor who is passionately devoted to preserving greenways in and around the city of San Marcos, Texas. He is president of the San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance, a volunteer-led group whose mission is to create interconnected parks and greenbelts and to protect natural areas.  

Sherwood spends most of his weekends leading groups of volunteers in constructing, improving and maintaining trails. He’s spearheaded the protection and development of several miles of greenspace and trails. Current projects include a trail called the "Loop and Check" that encircles San Marcos, and the initial plans for the Emerald Crown Trail to connect San Marcos to its northern neighbor, Austin. 

Sherwood's work bridges the community and the environment. He has been pivotal in establishing pedestrian and bicycle connectivity through much of San Marcos. This provides alternative, environmentally friendly transportation routes for residents of the city. Most of these trails have been developed alongside environmentally sensitive water quality lands. The city of San Marcos and the surrounding land falls within the Edward's Aquifer recharge and contributing zones. This aquifer provides drinking water to more than two million and its protection is critical to the vitality of the region. 

WATCH Sherwood’S VIDEO ON San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance

Alberto Tlatoa

West

Alberto Tlatoa

West

Alberto Tlatoa is a food justice advocate, social entrepreneur, historian, artist, community organizer and co-founder of South Central Farm Restoration Committee in South Central Los Angeles.  

When Alberto was a child, his family had a farming plot in the largest urban farm in the nation in South Central Los Angeles. However, it was destroyed in 2006. Since that time, the community has risen up to challenge irresponsible development. And over the past decade, Alberto has led a grassroots food justice movement that seeks to transform vacant lots in the heavily industrialized region into community green spaces. He has dedicated his life to his community and public service, working as a volunteer in the nonprofit sector to increase access and opportunities for low-income communities of color. 

Alberto has served in multiracial community-based organizations. He has also spoken at several seminars and conferences, including being keynote speaker for the 2020 American Community Garden Association conference. Alberto is a current board member of the CANNDU Neighborhood Council, part of one of the largest civic engagement systems in the United States. He chairs the Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) committee. He brings to his organizing work a nurturing and compassionate quality that enables him to meet people where they are by building trust and identifying commonalities to inspire and mobilize collective action. 

WATCH Alberto’S VIDEO ON South Central Farm Restoration Committee

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More About Cox Conserves Heroes

Since 2008, we have honored more than 200 volunteers across the nation who have helped us make a significant impact on conservation and environmental protection in our communities. In partnership with The Trust for Public Land (TPL), we have donated over $1.1 million to environmental nonprofits through the James M. Cox Foundation.

Cox Conserves Heroes is part of Cox Enterprises' national Cox Conserves sustainability program.

Learn more about how it works

NOMINEES & THEIR PROJECTS MUST MEET THE FOLLOWING CRITERIA:

Outdoor Spaces

Outdoor Spaces

Creates, protects and/or beautifies an outdoor community space.

Volunteer Basis

Volunteer Basis

Works on a volunteer basis that is not part of their employment.

Inspire Others

Inspire Others

Inspires others to engage in community conservation.