By Julie Lawrence Special to Published Apr 29, 2009 at 5:26 AM

This month's rain certainly has made lawns look lush after a long, cold winter, but one non-profit organization is taking action to ensure that Milwaukee maintains true green spaces no matter what the season.

Project EverGreen, based in New Prague, Minn., works nationally to represent green industry service providers, associations, suppliers / distributors, media companies and other organizations.

Its mission is to inspire citizens, businesses and developers to preserve and enhance green space in communities across the country for today and future generations, and beginning in May, it's focusing on ours. The City of Milwaukee has declared May "Project EverGreen month."

An official kick-off with EverGreen's President Chris Kujawa, gardening expert Melinda Myers and Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker is scheduled for Thursday, May 7 from 6 p.m. at The Domes.

Project EverGreen volunteers will the community better understand just how much trees, shrubs and grass impact our lives-economically, environmentally and socially.

The benefits of green urban spaces come by the proverbial boatload, from reducing energy consumption by countering the warming effects of paved surfaces to recharging groundwater supplies and protecting lakes and streams from polluted runoff.

Just trees alone can reduce on-site heat buildup in parking lots, improve air quality by removing smoke dust and other pollutants and lower attic temperatures as much as 40 degrees when shading homes.

Project EverGreen is also teaming up with the Milwaukee Public Schools for the first annual Art of Green Spaces Competition. The goal is to encourage young people to create visual art, vocal and instrumental music and dance and drama exhibits demonstrating why they believe green spaces are important to Milwaukee.

Winners of the competition will have their work recognized at an awards ceremony and displayed in prominent public locations. The contest is underway and the deadline for entries is May 28.

And on May 9 EverGreen launches its "Buck It Up for Military Families," which runs through May 16. "Buck It Up" was created as a fundraising program to support the nationally recognized GreenCare for Troops program, which provides free lawn and landscape services to families whose major breadwinner is currently serving in active duty.

A single dollar (or $5 or $10) donation creates scholarships for military family members seeking a career in the horticulture industry, increases the infrastructure to better handle the 7,800 military families and 2,100 volunteers currently participating in the program as well as enhances the free lawn and landscape services currently provided.

Julie Lawrence Special to staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.

As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”