Finalists named for Louisiana’s 2017 Cox Conserves Heroes program, public asked to vote

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

Cox Communications and The Trust for Public Land are recognizing volunteers who are creating, preserving or enhancing shared outdoor spaces. Finalists for Louisiana’s Cox Conserves Heroes program were announced today, and the public is being asked to vote for the winner now through Sept. 14. To vote, visit and select the Louisiana area. A total of $20,000 will be donated to local environmental nonprofits on behalf of the three finalists.

Finalists have already secured a $5,000 donation for their environmental nonprofits of choice and are now competing for an additional $5,000 – bringing the total award to $10,000 for the winner’s nonprofit of choice.

Louisiana’s 2017 Cox Conserves Heroes Finalists

John Walther is a long-time volunteer of Coastal Conservation Association of Louisiana (CCA Louisiana) and has been the guiding force behind 20 unique artificial reef deployments across Louisiana’s coast. He pioneered the use of recycled concrete materials in artificial reef projects in Louisiana and has also been the driving force behind the annual Derelict Crap Trap Removal Program. Once of his most significant accomplishments is the installation of 20 reefs – with an additional two coming down the pipeline. He has the vision and determination to enhance the fishing experience in Louisiana. His nonprofit of choice is CCA Louisiana.

Kristy Hitchcock is an avid gardener who has selflessly loaned her green thumb and knowledge of plants and gardening for the benefit of others. Hitchcock serves the Urban Conservancy’s paving removal incentive program – the Front Yard Initiative. She developed an extensive spreadsheet, highlighting native plants and detailing their flowering season and benefits to pollinators. Using her list as guidance, she volunteers on the committee to develop a Recommended Native Plant List for homeowners. With the Front Yard Initiative as a template, Kristy also helped the organization put together a Homeowner’s Toolkit for yard design. Her nonprofit of choice is Urban Conservancy.

Scott Howard has worked tirelessly since Hurricane Katrina to improve the quality of New Orleans’ parks, trails and gardens. He serves on the board of the New Orleans Recreation Department Foundation. Recently, he founded NOLA Parks for All, a group committed to advocating for the creation, maintenance, beautification, use and funding of public parks, playgrounds and green spaces as an essential public service in New Orleans. His nonprofit of choice is NOLA Parks for All.

Patrick Armstrong, Matt Thomas, Bart Everson, Jenga Mwendo and Rory McCracken are Louisiana’s previous Cox Conserves Heroes.

As either a finalist or winner’s nonprofit of choice, the following Louisiana organizations have received financial support from the Cox Conserves Heroes program: Friends of Lafitte Corridor; Jefferson Beautification, Inc.; Lafayette Square Conservancy; Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN); New Orleans Food and Farm Network (NOFFN); Operation Sudden Impact; Parkway Partners; Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) – Louisiana State Chapter; ReCover Acadiana; The Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, The University Lakes Improvement and Preservation Association (TULIPA) and Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF).

Cox Conserves Heroes was created through a partnership between The Trust for Public Land and Cox Enterprises, the parent company of Cox Communications, to honor local conservation volunteers. 

The national Cox Conserves Heroes program has donated nearly $800,000 to environmental nonprofits, and nearly 200 volunteers have been honored. Cox Conserves Heroes also takes place in Arizona, California, Georgia, Florida, Massachusetts, Virginia and Washington and is part of the company’s national Cox Conserves sustainability program that is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

For more information, visit or Facebook. Social Media hashtags are #CoxConservesHeroes and #CoxConservesHero.

Contributed Report