Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Giving Thanks for the Great Outdoors

As 2016 comes to a close, we would like to take time to show our gratitude to each and every individual, family, corporation and partner who has contributed to the success of the future Jester Park Nature Center. This project would not be possible without the unwavering support from each citizen who has contributed their time and resources.  From our family here at Polk County Conservation to yours - a big thank you to the following major donors who helped make this project a reality:

Corporations and Foundations 
Blank Children's Hospital - Discovery Kids Zone
Casey's General Stores - Outdoor Adventure Gateway
Chungath Family Foundation - Entryway Information Center
Dahl's Foundation - Interpretive Exhibits
EMC Insurance - Inspirational Viewing Area
Fred & Charlotte Hubbell Foundation
Gabus Family Foundation - Outdoor Streamscape
Great Outdoors Foundation 
Greater Des Moines Community Foundation - Observation Terrace
Growing Green Communities
Hubbell Realty & Jim and Ellen Hubbell Foundation - Prairie Reconstruction Outpost
Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation - Fire Pit Gathering Area
John Ruan Foundation Trust - Flagpole
Josephs Jewelry - Entrance Art Piece
Kemin Industries - STEM Classroom
MidAmerican Energy - Education Classroom
Phoenix Recycling
Prairie Meadows - Entrance Welcome Sign
Principal Financial Group - Building Sponsor
RDG Planning & Design
Scheels - Live Animal Display
Snyder & Associates 
The Graham Group
Wellmark Foudnation - Recreation/Wellness Center
Wells Fargo - Exploration Hall
West Bancorporation Foundation

Individuals & Families
Eric and Jennifer Barp
The Boddy-Davis Family
Richard and Joyce Chapman
Joseph and Sheryl Corfits, Jr.
Dr. Richard L. Deming
Dr. and Mrs. Ronald Eckoff
Allison and Jim Fleming
Cara and Kurt Heiden
Robert E. Jester
Tom and Wendy Levis
Jay and Tara Ramsey, M.D.
Mark and Janet Rosenbury
Fred and Emily Weitz
The LaMair Family
Jim and Patty Cownie

Federal, State, County and City
Land and Water Conservation Fund
Vision Iowa
Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP)
Polk County 
Cities of Ankeny, Des Moines, Granger, Grimes, Johnston, Polk City and West Des Moines

And thank you to the many contributors who have generously provided a donation of any size which brings us ever closer to bringing central Iowa's most exciting project to life. We are on the cusp of reaching our final funding goal. Help open this vital gateway to the outdoors and provide countless opportunities for citizens and visitors of central Iowa for generations to come with your gift today. Visit and help us break ground in 2017!

Our blog will take take a short hiatus in the coming months. We are working with a contractor to determine an official groundbreaking date. Once construction has begun, we will be back to keep our readers updated with the most recent timeline, details and photos throughout the entire construction process. In the interim, staff will continue to work internally on future exhibits, programming and the day-to-day operations of the Jester Park Nature Center in an effort to bring you a top of the line facility and destination location right here in Polk County. Check back in April as we bring the Jester Park Nature Center to life!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Don't Pass The Buck - Make A Gift Today!

2016 has been dedicated to introducing you to the Jester Park Nature Center, one of the most exciting upcoming projects to hit central Iowa.

We have explored how we can achieve our nation’s great need for future experts in science, technology, engineering and mathematics by simply placing a frog in a child’s hands to help him learn about ecology, anatomy, climate and the interdependence of living things.

We have learned how the Nature Center will cultivate stewardship of this land we call home by educating the public on issues facing our natural resources, and show them how to become active in protecting local habitats.

We have been enticed by the promise for enhanced health and well-being of our community by equipping a family with fishing poles in the summer and snowshoes in the winter. 

We have been shown that creating a place that attracts tourists and adds vibrancy and value to our quality of life will energize our local economy while simultaneously celebrating our region’s beauty, art and nature.

Now is the time for you to make these and many other activities available to yourself, your loved ones and literally thousands of others by making a gift to help build the Jester Park Nature Center today.

You understand how important it is for citizens of all backgrounds to have access to healthful outdoor activities. Yet many do not; we are the only metropolitan area in the state that does not have a nature center. The Jester Park Nature Center will provide a critically needed place for our increasingly urban community learn about, understand, embrace and value our natural landscape and resources. We anticipate the center will double Jester Park's annual attendance to one million eager visitors from across the the county, state and even the nation. 

Activities that nourish mind, body and soul and enhance our environment will occur for more people, more often, when the doors of the Jester Park Nature Center open. This “Gateway to the Outdoors” will benefit people of all ages and backgrounds through education, recreation, community engagement and conservation.  

The Jester Park Nature Center is so much more than a building. It will be a true gateway to positive transformations in our environment, our community and our lives for years to come. We’re close to our goal of raising $10.3 million to construct this 17,000-square-foot facility. Now you have the power to help open its doors as well as countless opportunities for all. Make a gift today. 

Please make your generous donation of $100 or more to celebrate both the future of the great outdoors and the people of Iowa.

 Visit to make your contribution today.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Coming in 2018 - The Jester Park Outdoor Recreation and Wellness Center

Outdoor opportunities abound in central Iowa. From the mile after mile of trails, waterways and natural areas, Polk County offers a wide variety of things to do to keep Iowans healthy and happy in the outdoors. But one thing the area is lacking is a centralized location to house the equipment, availability and know-how to get people out and enjoying the abundance of activities offered just right outside their front doors. The Jester Park Nature Center Outdoor Recreation and Wellness Center will fill this empty niche by providing residents and visitors of Polk County with the skills and equipment needed to enjoy a life outdoors.

 As part of the Jester Park Nature Center campus, this facility will provide park visitors a place to get active, get fit and get into nature. It will offer a wide variety of recreational activities and rental equipment giving everyone access to outdoor adventure and fun.

Try your skills at archery on an indoor archery course open year-round. Rent a kayak or canoe. Hone your paddling skills on Discovery pond or check out a fishing pole and try your hand at angling. And the fun doesn't end when the snow flies! The Outdoor Recreation and Wellness Center will offer affordable cross country ski and snowshoe rental to keep you outdoors and moving during those long winter months. Classes will also be offered to learn cross country skiing basics. Then hit the groomed trails at Jester Park to try out your newly acquired skill!

Other instructional classes at the Outdoor Recreation and Wellness Center will range from Kayaking 101 to bluebird boxes to connecting with nature by attending classes on mindfulness and health and wellness from a self care perspective. We look forward to developing meaningful community programming partnerships so we can offer the best programming possible.

Nothing like this exists in the Des Moines metro area. This will be a facility that promotes health and wellness by being active in the great outdoors. Affordable equipment rental will give visitors the opportunity to experience a wide variety of outdoor recreation activities without having to make a personal investment before trying it first. In addition, experienced and trained naturalists will be on site to help answer questions, fit you into the right gear and teach you the basics to help get you started.

The Outdoor Recreation and Wellness Center will be located right next to the new Jester Park Nature Center and will be an essential component of the future Jester Park Campus. Look for this facility to open alongside the Nature Center in 2018!