Finalists Named for Central Florida's Cox Conserves Heroes Program, Public Asked to Vote


Program to donate $20,000 to environmental nonprofits in Central Florida

ORLANDO, Fla., Aug. 19, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- WFTV 9 Family Connection and The Trust for Public Land are recognizing volunteers who are creating, preserving or enhancing shared outdoor spaces. Cathy Brown, Chuck O'Neal and Jim Thomas have been selected as finalists for Central Florida's inaugural Cox Conserves Heroes program, and the public is being asked to vote now through September 14. To vote, visit

A total of $20,000 will be donated to local environmental nonprofits on behalf of the three finalists. Each finalist has secured a $5,000 donation for his or her environmental nonprofit of choice. The finalists are now competing for an additional $5,000 – bringing the total award to $10,000 for the winner's nonprofit of choice. The winner will be chosen through an online public vote.

Central Florida's 2015 Cox Conserves Heroes Finalists

Cathy Brown is the co-founder of the Florida Scrub Jay Trail in Lake County. For nearly two decades, she has been committed to increasing awareness of the importance of protecting habitat for endangered scrub-jays, a bird species found only in Central Florida. Since 1990, Florida has lost half of the scrub-jay population due to displacement from real estate development and orange groves. Cathy organizes educational events for people of all ages and cleanup events to reinstate the unique habitat the birds need to thrive. By removing invasive plants and replanting native plant species to restore the ecosystem, other endangered species such as the gopher tortoise also benefit. Her nonprofit of choice is The Florida Scrub-Jay Consortium.

Chuck O'Neal has advocated for Florida's natural resources for more than 15 years. An entrepreneur and lifelong Florida resident, Chuck has volunteered hundreds of hours educating voters and lawmakers on the importance of conserving Florida's unique ecosystem. He organized "Speak up Wekiva," which engaged community leaders and the public at large in the need to protect the aquifer and created greater awareness about the ill effects of groundwater pollution on people and wildlife. Chuck also leads advocacy efforts for the protection of the Florida black bear and played a vital role in the passing of the Florida Land and Water Conservation Initiative in 2014. His nonprofit of choice is the League of Women Voters of Florida Education Fund.

Jim Thomas has volunteered for more than 60 years to preserve the Florida he knew as a child. In 1991, he formed Friends of Lake Apopka, whose mission focuses on the restoration of the lake after decades of drainage and farming runoff. Under his leadership, the Lake Apopka Restoration Act passed in 1996, allowing the muck farms to be purchased and halting ongoing water pollution. In 1999, he led the formation of the Oakland Nature Preserve, a 128-acre area adjacent to the lake which provides enhanced open space, wildlife viewing and recreational opportunities. Through education and volunteer engagement, he has helped protect and restore one of Florida's natural treasures. His nonprofit of choice is Oakland Nature Preserve.

Orlando's Cox Conserves Hero will be announced in late September.

The national Cox Conserves Heroes program was created in 2008 through a partnership between The Trust for Public Land and Cox Enterprises, the parent company of WFTV Channel 9. The partnership stems from Cox Enterprises' national Cox Conserves sustainability program that focuses on reducing waste and energy consumption, conserving water and inspiring eco-friendly behavior.

Through the national Cox Conserves Heroes program, more than $525,000 has been donated to environmental nonprofits and 150 volunteers have been honored. Cox Conserves Heroes also takes place in Arizona, California, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts and Virginia.

For more information, visit or Facebook.

Social Media: #CoxConservesHeroes and #CoxConservesHero

About WFTV Channel 9:
Part of Cox Media Group, WFTV Channel 9 is an ABC affiliate serving Central Florida. Cox Media Group is an integrated broadcasting, publishing, direct marketing and digital media company that includes the national advertising rep firms of CoxReps. Additionally, CMG owns Cox Target Media, which operates Valpak, one of North America's leading direct marketing companies, and, a leading online source for savings. The company's operations currently include 14 broadcast television stations and one local cable channel, 59 radio stations, seven daily newspapers and more than a dozen non-daily publications, and more than 100 digital services.  CMG currently operates in more than 20 media markets and reaches approximately 52 million Americans weekly, including more than 31 million TV viewers, more than 3.5 million print and online newspaper readers, and more than 14 million radio listeners. For more information about Cox Media Group, please check us out online at      

About The Trust for Public Land:
The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Nearly ten million people live within a ten-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. Learn more at

About Cox Conserves:
Launched in 2007 by Chairman Jim Kennedy, Cox Conserves is Cox Enterprises' national sustainability program. Cox Conserves focuses on reducing waste and energy consumption, as well as conserving water. The program engages each of the company's major subsidiaries (Cox Communications, Cox Automotive and Cox Media Group) and encourages Cox Enterprises' 50,000 employees and their families to engage in eco-friendly practices.

The company's sustainability goals are to send zero waste to landfill by 2024 and become carbon and water neutral by 2044. The company also presents the Cox Conserves Sustainability Survey, a nationwide survey that examines sustainability opportunities and challenges for small and medium-sized businesses.

SOURCE Cox Conserves

For further information: Michelle Stevens, WFTV, 407-822-5632,, Kristen Anderson, The Trust for Public Land, 415-800-5178,, Jami Buck-Vance, Cox Enterprises, 678-645-0074,


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