Josie and Geoff Fox

FoxesWinners of the Robert H. and Esther L. Cooper Conservation Award: the chapter's highest honor, for overall contributions to, conservation of, and appreciation for the natural environment

The Robert H. and Esther L. (Munro) Cooper Conservation Award was given to Josie and Geoff Fox, described by their nominator as “humble, community-minded, and nature-loving people who have made positive impacts to benefit conservation in Indiana" through years of generous support.

Dutro-Ernst Woods signageThe former Muncie residents have lived in California since the 1970s but have maintained close ties to East Central Indiana, including the Robert Cooper Audubon Society. Their generous donations to the chapter’s conservation efforts, for example, resulted in the Fox Student Research Grant, which supports undergraduate or graduate students conducting bird-centered research.

Josie and Geoff’s greatest commitment, however, is to protecting natural habitats through land acquisition and stewardship. They have supported five different Indiana land trusts in various regions of Indiana since 2005, including Red-tail Land Conservancy. In 2010, for example, they made it possible for Red-tail to purchase the 40-acre wooded parcel Trail at Dutro Woodsthat became Munsee Woods.

More recently, the Foxes funded the creation of Dutro-Ernst Woods, a 33-acre urban nature preserve in Muncie that was opened to the public in mid-November. On the site of the former Ernst Nursery, the preserve is named, in part, in honor of Josie’s former biology teacher at Burris High School, Ruth Dutro.

Now the largest nature preserve in Muncie, Dutro-Ernst Woods will become a living laboratory for school groups and a place for all visitors to enjoy nature.

See the Muncie Star Press for more information about the Dutro-Ernst Woods’ inception and photos of the property's opening.