Get an Upgrade for Your Athletic Fields

America's parks and recreational green spaces need a pick-me-up, and Project EverGreen has its sights set on providing just that with its "Healthy Turf. Healthy Kids." initiative.

Studies have shown that time spent outdoors playing has significant value for kids, and with childhood obesity doubling in the past 30 years, there is a greater need than ever for safe and modern recreational green spaces. Parks and sports fields promote a healthier lifestyle, while contributing to economic growth and community development, as well as benefiting the environment.

The "Our Winning Green Space" contest, sponsored by Project EverGreen, in partnership with Exmark Manufacturing, the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) and The Foundation for Safer Athletic Fields for Everyone (SAFE), gives parks and recreation and public works departments that chance to win a top-of-the-line Exmark Lazer Z X-Series mower package—valued at $15,000—and a "Healthy Turf. Healthy Kids" renovation project for their city.

Municipalities can submit an essay and photos online declaring why their city deserves the new equipment and renovated playing field, and how it will assist them in maintaining a healthier, safer area for kids to play. Submissions can be made at until Nov. 1, 2016. The winner will be announced in early December.

"Project EverGreen is thrilled to partner with Exmark and STMA on this opportunity to raise awareness of our 'Healthy Turf. Healthy Kids.' Program and the importance of safe, grass play fields for kids," said Cindy Code, Project EverGreen executive director. "It's also a fun opportunity for cities to share their story and compete for a field makeover."

Since the program's inception in 2015, more than 607,000 square feet of athletic and recreational green spaces have been renovated in Atlanta, Cleveland, Milwaukee, North Chicago, Ill., Belle Plaine, Minn., Greensboro and Durham, N.C., and San Antonio, Ft. Worth and Round Rock, Texas. Additional projects are planned this year for Red Bank, N.J., Detroit, and Portland, Ore.

For example, in Belle Plaine, Minn., the initiative converted 150,000 square feet of green space in Court Square Park into a disc golf course. Working in partnership with the Belle Plaine Park Board and City Council, Belle Plaine Chamber of Commerce, Belle Plaine High School FFA, Project EverGreen and industry volunteers proviced materials and labor to repurpose and renovate the existing grounds in Belle Plaine's Court Square Park into a usable, safe six-hole disc golf course. The renovations, valued at more than $4,000, will provie a new, more inclusive outdoor recreation option and foster a greater sense of community for Belle Plaine's more than 6,000 residents. The initiative included weed control and fertilization, aeration of the playing surface, installation of new plant material and general cleanup of spaces.

Jenny Simpson, Certified Sports Field Manager and STMA board member views HTHK as a way to educate the public on the importance of safe athletic fields.

"Our partnership with HTHK helps parents, field users and fans to understand that a well-maintained field helps to protect athletes from injury," she said. "Exmark's generous mower package will greatly assist with essential ongoing maintenance to keep the field safe."

For more information and contest rules, visit