They took a hike. One of them won a car.

But winners of ''Natural Treasures of Ohio'' sweepstakes say biggest rewards came from visiting Ohio's natural areas

​The Nature Conservancy issued a challenge this summer: get out and see some of the most beautiful natural places Ohio has to offer. We think you’ll be impressed. You did. You were. And the Conservancy has more than 3,000 photos to prove it. More than 800 Ohioans submitted more than 3,000 photo entries in the Conservancy’s “Natural Treasures of Ohio” sweepstakes, which ran from May 22 through Aug. 8. Many, like Bill Wilson of Troy, actually visited all 30 of the specially selected sites and uploaded photo self-portraits from each site’s designated landmark. One of those photos – of Bill standing before the Manor House at the Wildwood Metropark near Toledo – was randomly selected to win the sweepstakes’ grand prize: a 2012 Honda Insight hybrid donated by the sweepstakes’ sponsor, Honda of America Mfg., Inc. “What really interested us more than anything else was the challenge,” says Bill, who visited the 30 locations with his wife, Suzy. “It sounded like a lot of fun – let’s see if we can get to all 30 places.” Bill and Suzy accepted the new car today (Wednesday, Sept. 12) from Rick Schostek, senior vice president of Honda of America Mfg., Inc. “I am very happy to present the grand prize for this sweepstakes, a very fuel-efficient and enjoyable Honda Insight hybrid vehicle, to Bill and Suzy,” Schostek said. “I am especially impressed with your challenging spirit to visit all 30 of the natural sites. It is very commendable of you to set such a great example of others, and to do it in the spirit of fun and family.” After accepting the car, Bill and Suzy drove it to Toledo, where they re-visited the site of their winning photo. There they shared stories of their adventure with Stephen Madewell, executive director of the Toledo Metroparks. Madewell said this summer’s “Natural Treasures” sweepstakes enhanced the public’s interest in the already popular park. “In our business of conservation, partnerships are imperative. Wildwood Preserve was the result of the community coming together to promote and pass a tax levy, with the assistance of The Nature Conservancy, which gave Metroparks a short-term loan years ago to make the purchase possible. Today, about a million people a year visit Wildwood. They don’t all win a car for visiting, but all of us who enjoy the outdoors are winners because of partnerships that preserve Ohio’s treasures.” The Nature Conservancy and Honda developed the Natural Treasures of Ohio challenge as a way to help showcase some of Ohio’s beloved natural areas, and encourage learning about different natural features of the state. In addition to the grand prize, five second place winners will receive $500 REI gift cards: Holly Beach (Columbus), Elizabeth Hang (Parma Heights), Patrick Lipinski (Springboro), Lauren Wertz (Columbus) and Tamara Dieringer (Toledo). From Lake Erie’s Kelleys Island to Buzzardroost Rock in Adams County, the Wilsons and many others explored places they had never seen before in Ohio. Josh Knights, executive director of The Nature Conservancy in Ohio, said the public’s response to the sweepstakes was extraordinary. “We knew they would be excited about having a chance to win a car,” Knights said. “But we were unprepared for the outpouring of enthusiasm from participants.” “Our hope is that their enthusiasm translates into more support for these natural areas that enhance our quality of life,” Knights added. “Once Ohioans discover and come to love these areas, they’ll be inspired to help protect them.”
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