“Being able to go into a community and restore a park, to not only have the benefits of all the green spaces, but bring a community together, means a lot. We have volunteers with GreenCare for Troops who raised their hand and say, ‘I want to be a good neighbor in my community and help out folks that are that are in need.’ It’s the green space that’s part of it, but it’s also the connectivity to people that really drew me into Project EverGreen.”
Project EverGreen Board President
SiteOne Landscape Supply
This year marks Project EverGreen’s 20th anniversary, and the nonprofit has made a significant impact in communities across the country.
“The goal was to encourage lawn and landscape clients, as well as our colleagues at all levels in the green industry to recognize and promote the economic, environmental and lifestyle benefits of green spaces,” says Joe Shooner, a past president of Project EverGreen and president of Focal Point Communications. “We knew that this industry was offering more than just aesthetics, but contractors weren’t promoting those benefits, and as a result, the consumers weren’t aware that they were buying more than a nice-looking landscape.”
Project EverGreen in Action
Project EverGreen’s vision is a greener, cooler Earth with happier, healthier people.
“As a national nonprofit, Project EverGreen represents all that is good about the green industry,” says Cindy Code, executive director of Project EverGreen. “A nonprofit can promote the benefits of green spaces in an objective manner that is not self-promotional or self-serving. It’s rewarding to see all the participants work in a non-competitive manner in support of community green spaces. Lawn and landscape professionals have always been generous in donating their time and talents in support of Project EverGreen initiatives. The camaraderie, knowledge sharing with cities and consumers and ability to transform a community park in 1-2 days is rewarding.”
The organization’s two key platforms GreenCare for Troops and GreenCare for Communities bring professional volunteers together with individuals and communities to create and maintain healthy lawns, landscapes and public green spaces.
Kevin Laycock, current president of Project EverGreen and director of category management for SiteOne, says they’ve registered more than 10,000 volunteers over the years and renovated around 100 community green spaces.
“Being able to go into a community and restore a park, to not only have the benefits of all the green spaces, but bring a community together, means a lot,” Laycock says. “We have volunteers with GreenCare for Troops who raised their hand and say, ‘I want to be a good neighbor in my community and help out folks that are that are in need.’ It’s the green space that’s part of it, but it’s also the connectivity to people that really drew me into Project EverGreen.”
Code says they have been able to revitalize the grounds of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty following Hurricane Sandy. Project EverGreen also planted trees on Liberty Island to create an area of serenity following 9/11.
“We are fortunate to have the backing of an industry that is generous with their time and skills, and we are thankful to have partners like NALP and numerous corporate supporters in the communities where we work,” Shooner says. “It’s gratifying to visit our projects in the months and years after we wrap up our work. We often see that the local community is utilizing a park that had been neglected and unused in the past, and as a result of the increased usage, the local parks department will be much more active in maintaining the space for the residents. It feels like our work is really just a catalyst for building a community around a revitalized green space.”
GreenCare for Troops has registered 12,000 military families since 2006 and an estimated $15 million in in-kind services have been provided since the inception of the program.
“Our military is a key driver to the United States and our ability to assist the families of deployed soldiers is a very strongly held mission for us and we want to continue to develop that and make sure that if a soldier is deployed, we have a volunteer in their area,” says Fred Haskett, current treasurer of Project EverGreen and founder of TrueWinds Consulting.
Clean Air Calculator
Project EverGreen’s latest initiative they have been working on for the past few years is the Clean Air Calculator, which is a digital tool that will allow anyone to measure their property, outline different types of landscape elements, and calculate the amount of oxygen their property generates.
“Through the calculator, individuals and companies can measure lawns, trees and shrubs, learn how much carbon is sequestered and how much clean air is produced,” Code says. “PE is the sole licensee of the Clean Air Calculator in the U.S. Ultimately, the results will be part of a global effort to show the amount of carbon that is sequestered by healthy, living green spaces. This is a big win for the green industry.”
Project EverGreen anticipates a demo of the Clean Air Calculator will be available at ELEVATE in Dallas. Laycock says with the calculator, they will be able to quantify what their volunteer efforts achieve and expand their reach.
“What we’re focused on is building out not only Project EverGreen for a bigger impact tied to the Clean Air Calculator but really getting the Clean Air Calculator out and functional to a lot of green industry supporters,” Laycock says.
Goals for the Future
Code says their goals for the future include increasing their bandwidth to transform more community green spaces, positively impacting more individuals and communities, and educating consumers about the environmental impact of managed green spaces through the Clean Air Calculator.
Project EverGreen has completed projects in more than 50 cities across the country. They’ve also completed multiple revitalization projects in Detroit and New York, and they hope to do the same in other communities across the country.
“We would like to see GreenCare for Communities be coast to coast, having an impact virtually in every state, especially the most populous states where the largest cities are,” Haskett says. “The more crowded it is, the more it’s asphalt and steel and glass. The green spaces in there are a critical item that has really not been well maintained.”
Haskett notes that as a nonprofit, Project EverGreen is powered by volunteers.
“Most of us on the board, especially the officers on the executive committee, donate a lot of time and personal expense,” Haskett says. “We do it because of what it represents to us. We do it because we love it. We do it because it means something to us. We can make a difference. We can improve that and connect people to green spaces.”
This article appeared in the The Edge, a publication of the National Association of Landscape Professionals.