An event celebrating the finalists and announcing the winner was held at Fairview Gardens, a previous grant recipient of the Cox Conserves Heroes program.
Cox Conserves Heroes honors volunteers who are creating, preserving or enhancing outdoor spaces. The finalists were chosen by a judging panel of local environmental leaders, and the winner was selected through online public voting.
» First-Place Winner: As Epstein's nonprofit of choice, the Center for Sustainability at Santa Barbara City College will receive $5,000, promotion through on-air public service announcements and 20 volunteer hours donated by Cox employees. 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.
» Second-Place Winner: Vera Bensen's nonprofit of choice, Carpinteria Valley Association, will receive $2,500. Bensen was one of the major players in the preservation and purchase of the Carpinteria Bluffs. The property was slated for development until the community organized to purchase the property and keep it as open space. The 52 acres of prime oceanfront property has served the community for more than a decade. It has been a haven for walking and biking, as well as organized sports such as soccer and softball.
» Third-Place Winner: Dale Swanson's nonprofit of choice, PARC (Parks and Recreation Community Foundation), will receive $1,000. In 2005, Swanson called the city of Santa Barbara looking for ways for his church to give back to the community, which led to the Annual City Clean-Up. Swanson has been a driving force behind this event, which now draws more than 500 volunteers who plant trees, remove graffiti and pick up litter.
Santa Barbara's 2012 Cox Conserves Hero was Martin Camp, whose nonprofit of choice was Fairview Gardens.
The Cox Conserves Heroes program was created in 2008 through a partnership between the Trust for Public Land and Cox Enterprises, the parent company of Cox Communications, to honor everyday volunteers. The program also runs in Arizona, Atlanta, Louisiana, Orange County, San Diego, San Francisco and Virginia. More than $300,000 has been donated to local nonprofits and more than 100 volunteers have been honored through the Cox Conserves Heroes program.
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— Jon Zuber represents Cox Communications.