Cox Conserves Heroes Awards 17000 To San DiegoArea Environmental 2009: Judging Panel

Cox Conserves Heroes Awards 17000 to San DiegoArea Environmental

A judging panel including Brenda Schick and Courtney Ann Coyle, Esq.
from The Trust for Public Land, Dr. Emily Young from The San Diego Foundation and Jennifer Nichols Kearns from Think Blue San Diego then selected three youth and three adult finalists. To help the public learn more about the nominees, the finalists were profiled on San Diego Insider Magazine on Channel 4 San Diego, and their stories were posted on Through the online voting process via, San Diegans cast thousands of votes for their favorite finalists. $5,000 – (Youth) Sonya Vargas was one of two youth members who served on the steering committee for the Wetland Avengers/ Campeones de los Canones, a community-based habitat education and restoration event. Her strong leadership and communication skills mobilized and inspired an unengaged community to care for their canyon habitat. As a result, more than 950 volunteers participated in the event by planting 2,500 native plants, restoring two acres of canyon and wetland habitat, creating a school garden at the adjacent elementary school, and designing an outdoor classroom. Vargas will donate her prize to Aquatic Adventures Science Education Foundation. $5,000 – (Adult) John Willett was nominated for his efforts with Reclaiming the Otay River Valley in the Otay Valley Regional Park (OVRP), a 13-mile unique urban river parkway in the South Bay. Willett, a World War II veteran who will turn 88 years old in June, has been volunteering in the park for more than two decades, dedicating countless hours in the planning, clean up and restoration of the park. As a result, an estimated 700 tires, 1,400 tons of trash and 150 homeless encampments have been removed. Thanks to John Willett’s efforts, the Otay Valley, once treated as an unwanted wasteland, is now a valuable community resource for outdoor recreation and enjoyment of nature for all South Bay families. Willett will donate his prize money to Wildcoast. $2,500 – Jennifer Gold is the founder and president of Valhalla High School’s Recycling Club. Through Gold’s leadership the club placed recycling bins throughout the campus and now sorts and sends the recyclable materials to a recycling center, instead of sending these items to a public dump site. Valhalla’s Recycling Club donates half of its recycling proceeds to Outreach International, a charity that works in 12 underdeveloped countries throughout the world to help those that live there overcome the devastating effects of poverty and hunger. Gold will donate her prize to Surfrider Foundation of San Diego.
$1,000 – Jose Mendoza, is a student at Hoover High School and the president of the Hoover Eco Club. Through his involvement with the Hoover Eco Club and other environmental organizations, Mendoza became an organizer of the Friends of Swan Canyon. Volunteer efforts including the removal of trash and non-native plants have reduced gang activity and the homeless population in the canyon. As one of Hoover Eco Club’s most active members, he was recognized by the school for his participation in several school clean-ups. Mendoza will donate his prize to San Diego Canyonlands.

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