Chuck O’Neal Named as Central Florida’s Cox Conserves Hero

WFTV Channel 9 Family Connection and The Trust for Public Land today named Chuck O'Neal as Central Florida's 2015 Cox Conserves Hero. O'Neal's nonprofit of choice, League of Women Voters of Florida Education Fund, will receive $10,000 on his behalf. The three finalists were chosen by a judging panel and then competed in an online public vote to be named Central Florida's Cox Conserves Hero.

Chuck O'Neal has advocated for Florida's natural resources for more than 15 years. An entrepreneur and lifelong Florida resident, Chuck has volunteered hundreds of hours educating voters and lawmakers on the importance of conserving Florida's unique ecosystem. He organized "Speak up Wekiva," which engaged community leaders and the public at large in the need to protect the aquifer and created greater awareness about the ill effects of groundwater pollution on people and wildlife. Chuck also leads advocacy efforts for the protection of the Florida black bear and played a vital role in the passing of the Florida Land and Water Conservation Initiative in 2014.

The two runners-up each receive $5,000 for their nonprofits of choice. Cathy Brown selected The Florida Scrub-Jay Consortium and Jim Thomas chose Oakland Nature Preserve.

The national Cox Conserves Heroes program was created in 2008 through a partnership between The Trust for Public Land and Cox Enterprises, the parent company of WFTV Channel 9. The partnership stems from Cox Enterprises' national Cox Conserves sustainability program that focuses on reducing waste and energy consumption, conserving water and inspiring eco-friendly behavior.

Through the national Cox Conserves Heroes program, nearly $550,000 has been donated to environmental nonprofits and more than 150 volunteers have been honored. Cox Conserves Heroes also takes place in Arizona, California, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts and Virginia.