Volunteers: People Who Are Preserving Our Parks and Places
For twenty-five years, The Trust for Public Land has been working with government, foundations and nonprofit partners to preserve land along the Chattahoochee. To date, we have helped preserve 18,000 acres and 80 miles of riverfront.
None of this would have been possible if not for the work the Friends of the River.
Before there was a Chattahoochee National Recreation Area, before there was a Chattahoochee Riverkeeper or a Trust for Public Land Georgia Office, dozens of volunteers rallied to preserve land along the river, fight water pollution and advocate for the creation of a National Recreation Area along the Chattahoochee. That’s a pretty bold vision – and they pulled it off.
Everyone working on the Chattahoochee today owes a debt of gratitude to the Friends of the River. They are our heroes.
As The Trust for Public Land works to create parks and protect land for people, we have had the honor of working with heroes like the Friends of the River all across America. And since 2008, we have partnered with Cox Enterprises to recognize these heroes – environmental volunteers who are creating and preserving outdoor spaces. The Cox Conserves Heroes highlights how the efforts of one individual can make a powerful difference in the communities where we live, work and play.
Each year, Atlanta’s Cox Conserves Heroes program introduces us to outstanding individuals who advocate for advancement and work to conserve what already exists. The winning nominee – selected through an online public vote – is awarded a $10,000 donation to the nonprofit of their choosing and finalists each receive $5,000 for their nonprofit beneficiaries. Over the years, we’ve heard tremendous testimonies of the impact these awards have made on the passion projects of our Cox Conserves Heroes and finalists.
I am sure this will be no different for Atlanta’s 2017 finalists: Dale Higdon, Michelle Rice and Stephen Causby.
Dale Higdon retired from the Georgia Forestry Commission in 2008 and began devoting countless hours volunteering for environmental organizations. He is a hands-on volunteer of the Georgia Urban Forest Council, the Georgia Piedmont Land Trust and much more. His nonprofit of choice is Georgia Piedmont Land Trust.
Michelle Rice inspires the community to engage children in hands-on gardening and encourages people to have a love for the outdoors. For the past eight years, she has led the organic edible garden program at Atlanta Public School’s Burgess-Peterson Academy. Her nonprofit of choice is East Atlanta Community Association
Stephen Causby led the grassroots transformation of an overgrown lot in English Avenue into Mattie Freeland Park. The lot now boasts picnic areas, garden beds, a mural, a playground, newly sodded play fields and a brand-new community center. His nonprofit of choice is Park Pride.
Perhaps among this year’s nominees is the next Friends of the River. Much like those dedicated individuals who came together to make the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area a reality, these individuals are pursuing their passion to make our world a better place.
Visit www.wsbtv.com/coxconserveshereoes to view each finalists’ video and vote today for Atlanta’s 2017 Cox Conserves Hero.
Photo Above: President Carter signs legislation creating the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. Marcia Bansley (fifth from right) and fellow Friends of the River Patricia Barmeyer, Henry Howell and Judy Orthwein continue to advocate for the river as TPL GA Advisory Board Members.