CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Three North Carolina nonprofit organizations committed to supporting the state’s conservation efforts have received $10,000 each as part of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) Foundation Community TIEs Awards Program. This year’s recipients include the Triangle Land Conservancy in Raleigh, the Western North Carolina Alliance in Asheville and the Pamlico-Tar River Foundation in Washington. 
This year’s awards were presented in partnership with the North Carolina Conservation Network. Community TIEs awards are given annually to nonprofit organizations that are excelling in their service to the community and recognize excellence in the use of Technology, Innovation and Evaluation.
“The work of these organizations to protect our state’s environment is critical to ensuring that future generations can enjoy a vibrant and healthy North Carolina,” said Kathy Higgins, president of the BCBSNC Foundation. “We commend these groups for their ability to leverage technology, innovation and evaluation to change policies, conserve resources and shape communities.”
"We are excited to have the opportunity to honor three innovative organizations with awards that will help them to continue their work of protecting North Carolina's environment,” said Brian Buzby, executive director of the North Carolina Conservation Network.  “Pamlico-Tar River Foundation, Western NC Alliance, and Triangle Land Conservancy epitomize excellence in nonprofit management and program administration."
Receiving the technology award, the Triangle Land Conservancy has created a comprehensive and user-friendly mapping system for Chatham County that allows individuals to learn more about the area’s natural resources and the environmental changes affecting them.  The tool is available on the county’s mapping Web site ( Maps can be used to evaluate the environmental impacts of potential new developments or to find general information regarding the county’s resources.
Western North Carolina Alliance (WNCA) has instituted a unique and successful exotic invasive plant control project, which involves cataloguing and removing pest plants in the mountains of North Carolina. The project received the Innovation Award. WNCA inventories exotic invasive species using handheld GPS units and maps the data, which helps determine where to focus efforts and the appropriate control methods. To date, the project has trained 200 volunteers who have worked on 25 miles of trails and roads.
Pamlico-Tar River Foundation (PTRF) was recognized for evaluation with a diversity-focused component of their Inclusive Watershed Protection initiative. This project sought to assess the conservation and environmental values, needs and perceptions of diverse populations living in rural areas. Overall, PTRF surveyed 117 people from five counties in the Pamlico-Tar watershed. The results are helping to identify critical next steps and were instrumental in PTRF launching a minority membership drive, as well as developing culturally sensitive materials and programs.
Since 2004, BCBSNC Foundation has annually partnered with a North Carolina member-based organization to present the Community TIEs Awards. Previous awards have honored affiliates of the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence (2004), North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault (2005), Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina (2006), Student Action with Farmworkers (2007) and the North Carolina Housing Coalition (2008).
Specifically, award categories include:
  • Technology – given to an organization that has shown exemplary performance and results in using technology to improve effectiveness in protecting the environment.
  • Innovation – recognizes an organization that uses innovative programming to further their mission around sustainability.
  • Evaluation – recognizes an organization that has demonstrated success in reporting on outcomes of programs or initiatives. Must have been able to measure, record and analyze the impact of specific programs on its target population.
About the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation:
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation is a separate, independent, nonprofit Foundation dedicated to improving the health and well-being of North Carolinians. The Foundation's focus  includes improving health outcomes of populations served by safety-net organizations; increasing physical activity and encouraging healthy eating habits; and increasing the effectiveness of nonprofit organizations. Since its inception, BCBSNC Foundation has invested into the community more than $46 million through 294 grants to organizations throughout the state. More information is available at
About the North Carolina Conservation Network:
The North Carolina Conservation Network is a statewide network of over 120 environmental, community and environmental justice organizations focused on protecting North Carolina’s environment and public health. The NC Conservation Network supports, trains and coordinates diverse groups and directly advocates to achieve equitable and sustainable solutions for our environment.