Cox Conserves Heroes Awards $35,000 To San Diego-Area Environmental Nonprofits

More Than 3,600 Votes Cast for Local Environmental Heroes

Jun 30, 2010, 08:00 ET from Cox Communications

SAN DIEGO, June 30 /PRNewswire/ -- San Diegans cast 3,624 online votes to identify the first-, second- and third-place youth and adult winners of the Cox Conserves Heroes awards program. In partnership with The Trust for Public Land, Cox Communications in San Diego solicited input from the public to nominate their favorite volunteer environmental heroes who continue to make great strides in protecting our environment.

Sponsored by Think Blue San Diego and San Diego-based wireless phone manufacturer Kyocera Communications, Inc. with media partner KYXY 96.5 FM, the Cox Conserves Heroes program featured an online nomination and voting process for the public to identify and select San Diego's everyday conservation heroes.

A judging panel including the 2009 adult and youth Cox Conserves Heroes winners narrowed down the nominations and selected three youth and three adult finalists. To help the public learn more about the nominees before voting for the winners, the finalists were profiled on San Diego Insider Magazine on Channel 4 San Diego, and their stories were posted on

At a special ceremony hosted by Hotel Solamar, an eco-friendly Kimpton hotel located in downtown San Diego, the Cox Conserves Heroes winners in each category were presented with prize money to donate to their favorite environmental nonprofit organization. A total of $35,000 in prize money was awarded: First place winners in both categories received $10,000; second-place winners received $5,000; and third-place winners received $2,500 to be donated to the environmental nonprofit of their choice.  

All finalists were also awarded eco-friendly gifts, recognized on the field at the Padres game and treated to an evening of baseball with their friends and family.

The Cox Conserves Heroes winners are:

First Place - $10,000

Mark Jorgensen (adult) - A California State Parks retiree, Mark 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. Mark will donate his prize to The Anza Borrego Foundation.

Dakotah Flowers (youth) - By recycling in her home, Dakotah was able to fund her vision of using 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. Dakotah will donate her prize to the Chula Vista Nature Center

Second Place - $5,000

Jesus "Chuy" Armas (adult) - Retired from the military and San Ysidro Health Center, "Chuy," 85, has created and maintained a garden in Florida Canyon in Balboa Park for the past 18 years. By incorporating water already running through the area, Chuy built infrastructure, and planted vegetation in this tropical urban oasis. The Florida Canyon Community Garden has become a favorite of photographers for engagements and family photos, and has enhanced the city's walking/hiking paths with an array of flowers and plants for all to enjoy. Chuy will donate his prize to Friends of Balboa Park.

Jorge Rivera (youth) - Jorge has dedicated several years and more than 300 hours to engaging his neighbors in local land conservation by joining the Restoration, Education, and Action in City Heights (REACH) internship, facilitated by the Ocean Discovery Institute. Jorge works to motivate San Diego's Latino youth to get involved with conservation in their own neighborhoods and advocate for the protection of local habitats with government representatives. Jorge will donate his prize to Endangered Habitats Conservancy.

Third Place - $2,500

Marcela Escobar-Eck (adult) - Marcela is a tireless advocate for public transit, with a goal of bringing the topic into the spotlight as a regional priority. She builds support for the transit movement by engaging people to think about the environmental benefits of mass transit such as reduced greenhouse gases, improved air quality, conservation of natural resources such as fossil fuels, and improved water quality.  Marcela serves as chair of the board of directors for Move San Diego and spends her personal time educating policy makers, business leaders and friends about prioritizing sustainable forms of transportation in San Diego. Marcela will donate her prize to Move

San Diego.

Daisy Mercado (youth) - A student and president of the Eco Club at Hoover High School, Daisy uses her passion for ecology to restore local wetlands, conduct restoration research and inspire her peers to take action that will positively impact our world. Through the Tijuana Estuary Restoration Research Project (TERRP), Daisy has spent more than 200 hours working to protect and care for this wetland habitat so that San Diego residents can enjoy and learn from this outdoor space. Now in her second year with the project, Daisy has taken on a leadership role, instructing and inspiring other students and leading public volunteer efforts to restore the site. Daisy will donate her prize to Ocean Discovery Institute.

The Cox Conserves Heroes program was created through a partnership between The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens and natural areas, and Cox Enterprises, a leading communications, media and automotive services company.

The $35,000 award money was provided by the James M. Cox Foundation and the Cox Kids Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Cox Communications in San Diego. The foundation is funded by Cox employees, who donate a portion of their paychecks that is matched 100 percent by the company.

SOURCE Cox Communications