Habitat Hero Awards

The Tennessee Valley Chapter of Wild Ones Habitat Hero Award recognizes individuals or organizations whose exemplary use of native plants demonstrate the mission of Wild Ones: To promote environmentally sound landscaping practices which preserve biodiversity through the preservation, restoration and establishment of native plant communities. We are pleased to announce the winners of the 2018 Habitat Hero Awards.


Matt Whitaker (L) and Dr. Anna George, Tennessee Aquarium Vice President of Conservation Science and Education (R) receive Habitat Hero Award from Mary Beth Sutton (C).

On September 7, 2018, the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute and W.M. Whitaker & Associates received the award jointly for their development of the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute at 175 Baylor School Rd.   They used historically correct native plants to restore impaired wetlands and riparian forest strips, established bioretention rain gardens and designed green infrastructure to improve water quality.  The Conservation Institute’s landscape serves as a living classroom, where visitors learn about the importance of habitat protection and cleansing rainwater.

Avi Askey, owner of Overhill Gardens and Nursery, and his sons accept Habitat Hero Award from Mary Beth Sutton.

Overhill Gardens, in Vonore, TN, received the award for providing, for 20 years, a year-round retail source for a full range of grasses, forbs, shrubs, and trees of local provenance.  By providing a reliable source of both common and endangered plants, Overhill Gardens has supported homeowners and businesses who are converting their landscapes from Asian and European plants to native species which support our native fauna.


Habitat Hero Awards have been given to:

• Wm. Whitaker & Associates (Matt Whitaker) and the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute
• Avi Askey for 20 years of propagation and sale of native plants at Overhill Gardens & Nursery

• Kelly Brooks & Dan Jacobson for the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee Headquarters landscape
• Jim Mahurin & Paula Snider for the First Presbyterian Church of Franklin TN grassland prairie
• Mary Beth Sutton for the Tennessee Student Environmental Alliance (TenneSEA)

• Paola Zannini & Anita Greenwell for the Reflection Riding Greenhouse

• Lisa Lemza & Tom Carroll for the Grace Episcopal Church Butterfly and Community Garden