Finalists Named for San Diego's Cox Conserves Heroes Program

July 30, 2013
San Diego

The Trust for Public Land and Cox Communications announced that Javier Hernandez, Arne Johanson and Barbara Palan have been selected as the finalists for San Diego's Cox Conserves Heroes program.

The winner will be chosen through an online vote, which is open to the public July 29-August 16 at The winner will be announced in September.

Sponsored by the University of San Diego, Cox Conserves Heroes honors volunteers who are creating, preserving or enhancing outdoor spaces.

For the past five years, Javier Hernandez has organized cleanups in Logan Heights, a community often associated with gangs and violence. Hernandez himself was in a gang once and cites that as one of the reasons he works hard to restore his community. Originally focused on cleaning up one empty lot used for illegal dumping, Hernandez's efforts to ensure that trash is removed immediately have inspired the neighborhood to clean additional sites in the area. His nonprofit of choice is I Love A Clean San Diego.

Arne Johanson is restoring the abandoned Bernardo Lakes area, bringing back wildlife and creating an outdoor space where kids are safe to play. He leads a team of volunteers to restore more than 2,000 acres by reducing infestation, removing weeds to make room for native vegetation, and cleaning slopes and trails. His nonprofit of choice is the San Diego Chapter of the California Native Plant Society.

As a member of the River Rescue team and San Diego River Park Foundation volunteer corps, Barbara Palan has worn a broad range of hats, from answering phones and serving as a native plant docent to leading hikes and planting trees. Palan received a Volunteer of the Year honor in 2009 from the Foundation, is a lifetime member, and its newest member of the Board of Directors. Her nonprofit of choice is the San Diego River Park Foundation.


  • Cox Conserves Hero: The winner's nonprofit of choice will receive $5,000, promotion through on-air public service announcements and 20 volunteer hours donated by Cox employees.
  • Second Place: The finalist's nonprofit of choice will receive $2,500.
  • Third Place: The finalist's nonprofit of choice will receive $1,000.

Past Cox Conserves Heroes in San Diego and their nonprofits of choice include: Sonya Vargas - Aquatics Adventures Science Education Foundation; John Willet - Wildcoast; Mark Jorgensen - Anza Borrego Foundation; Dakota Flowers - Living Coast Discovery Center (formerly Chula Vista Nature Center); Denise Stillinger - San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy; Isabel Herrera - Ocean Discovery Institute; and Sally Nelson -Lakeside's River Park Conservancy.

For more information, visit or find them on Facebook.

About Cox Conserves Heroes
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 (Calif.), San Francisco, Santa Barbara and Virginia. Nearly $300,000 has been donated to local nonprofits and more than 100 volunteers have been honored through the Cox Conserves Heroes program.