Bob Byrnes

CALIFORNIA: Leads the California Native Plant Society’s restoration efforts

Stephen Causby

GEORGIA: Transformed an overgrown lot into usable community space

Robert Cuddi

MASSACHUSETTS: Connects people with their natural surroundings as they work to improve the local environment

Barbara Duerk

VIRGINIA: Helps preserve the Appalachian Trail and Blue Ridge Parkway in the Roanoke Valley

Eric Sophiea

ARIZONA: Supports the local environment through the Climbers Association of Southern Arizona

Audrey Swindal

FLORIDA: Developed Wekiva Youth Camp to educate children about the environment

John Walther

LOUISIANA: Guided over 20 artificial reef deployments through the Coastal Conservation Association of Louisiana

Mark Boyar

WASHINGTON: Spent over 20 years improving the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Valley

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.

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Eric Sophiea

Arizona

Eric Sophiea

Arizona

Eric Sophiea founded Climbers Association of Southern Arizona in 2015 to build an empowered group of rock climbers who give back to the community. As president, Sophiea dedicates thousands of personal volunteer hours, managing all levels of the registered 501(c)(3) organization. He has forged collaborations with nonprofits and conservation agencies, including the Arizona Wilderness Coalition, Arizona Conservation Corps and the U.S. Forest Service. His nonprofit of choice is the Climbing Association of Southern Arizona.

WATCH Eric’S VIDEO ON Climbing Association of Southern Arizona

Bob Byrnes

California

Bob Byrnes

California

Robert (Bob) Byrnes leads the restoration efforts for the San Diego Chapter of the California Native Plant Society. Not only does he invest his personal time to the organization's efforts, but also sets aside time to encourage and train other volunteers on best practices. Bynes and his team of dedicated volunteers spend countless hours removing invasive plants that could potentially harm wildlife. His nonprofit of choice is California Native Plant Society.

WATCH Bob’S VIDEO ON California Native Plant Society

Audrey Swindal

Florida

Audrey Swindal

Florida

Swindal is known locally as “Mother Nature” to generations of campers, counselors and volunteers at the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs — Wekiva Youth Camp. Swindal was dubbed “Mother Nature” because of her extensive knowledge of flora, as well as her vivid storytelling ability. She has served the camp for more than 40 years and played an instrumental role in the development of the environmental camp located in the Wekiva Springs State Park. Not only does she lead by example in environmental stewardship, but she also takes time share knowledge and legislative updates within the conservation community. Her nonprofit of choice is Wekiva Youth Camp.

WATCH Audrey’S VIDEO ON Wekiva Youth Camp

Stephen Causby

Georgia

Stephen Causby

Georgia

Causby led the grassroots transformation of an overgrown lot in Atlanta. The lot is now boasting picnic areas, garden beds, a mural, a playground, newly sodded play fields and a brand-new community center. He led every phase of the development, managing cleanups, executing programming, grant writing and soliciting community support. By engaging residents to participate in the park’s improvement, he developed a team of neighborhood leaders who help with maintenance and programming. His nonprofit of choice is Park Pride.

WATCH Stephen’S VIDEO ON Park Pride

John Walther

Louisiana

John Walther

Louisiana

Walther is a long-time volunteer of Coastal Conservation Association of Louisiana (CCA Louisiana) and has been the guiding force behind over 20 unique artificial reef deployments across Louisiana’s coast. He pioneered the use of recycled concrete materials in artificial reef projects and leads the annual Derelict Crab Trap Removal Program. His nonprofit of choice is Coastal Conservation Association of Louisiana.

WATCH John’S VIDEO ON Coastal Conservation Association of Louisiana

Mark Boyar

Washington

Mark Boyar

Washington

Mark Boyar is passionate about the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Valley. For the past 20 years, Boyar worked tirelessly to improve the valley. His efforts have brought other volunteers forward to help develop an accessible and ecologically healthy recreational area that the public can enjoy.  In the early '90s, Boyar and a group of other volunteers joined forces to build the arching bridge over the river at the Middle Fork Trailhead. He has displayed vision, volunteerism and tenacity as he facilitates support for the Middle Fork by working with public agencies, elected officials, nonprofits and local citizens. His nonprofit of choice is Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust.

WATCH Mark’S VIDEO ON Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust

Robert Cuddi

Massachusetts

Robert Cuddi

Massachusetts

Robert Cuddi joined the New England Aquarium’s field-based volunteer program — the Live Blue Service Corps — in 2015 and has since been among the organization’s most active stewardship volunteers. Cuddi has dedicated hundreds of hours toward conservation efforts in and around Boston. He’s a longtime volunteer; he educates visitors at the aquarium, has assisted cold-stunned sea turtles as the aquarium’s Rescue and Rehab Center, led volunteer cleanups at Revere Beach, worked with the Boston Water and Sewer Commission to label storm drains to protect from dumping and much more. Cuddi’s projects improve the local environment and build connections between people and their natural surroundings. His nonprofit of choice is the New England Aquarium.

WATCH Robert’S VIDEO ON New England Aquarium

Barbara Duerk

Virginia

Barbara Duerk

Virginia

Barbara Duerk has long been a visionary force in the Roanoke Valley, known for her tireless pursuit of building a better community and equal opportunities for all residents. Her efforts include preparing and serving food for the homeless, advocating for cycling as a form of transportation and recreation, helping young girls gain confidence and leadership skills through outdoor activities, and supporting the preservation of the Appalachian Trial Club and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Her nonprofit of choice is the Roanoke Valley Chapter of FRIENDS of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

WATCH Barbara’S VIDEO ON FRIENDS of the Blue Ridge Parkway

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More About Cox Conserves Heroes

Since 2008, we have honored nearly 200 volunteers across the nation who have helped us make a significant impact on conservation and environmental protection in our communities. In partnership with TPL, an organization that protects and creates parks, we have donated $860,000 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.