Monday, March 24, 2014

April Showers

Okay, admittedly, this month’s entry is at first very cliché. April has been known as a rainy month…well, for as long as we can remember.

Rain is a funny thing. We (and every other living thing on Earth) need water to exist, but gosh – doesn’t it make for a dreary day? Most of us do enjoy listening to the rain as we lie in our beds, or sat with a book [and caffeinated cup of something] as droplets splash upon our windowpanes. And it is absolutely thrilling to see thunderclouds gather as a long-awaited storm builds – particularly after a period of drought. Even the smell is something we’ve come to appreciate.

Then, it rains. And rains.

Water pours off rooftops, out of our eaves, down paved driveways, and towards overwhelmed storm drains. Our manicured lawns become quickly saturated, and there the water sits. It’s easy to see why flooding has been so common in recent years. Fortunately, clever folks have looked into ways to slow the flow and capture the excess: rain gardens, rain barrels, permeable pavers, and soil quality restoration (among other things). As with all things clever people do, the rest of us wonder why we didn’t think of it ourselves.

Beautiful rain garden at Polk County headquarters in River Place, Des Moines.

At least those clever people are happy to advise and assist! On the afternoon of May 18, 2014,  the Easter Lake Watershed Project team and Polk County Conservation staff will be hosting a big event at Easter Lake Park to do just that. From 12:00 to 3:00 p.m. activities for children and information booths for their grown ups will be set up. Visitors can learn about upcoming lake and watershed renovations at our vendor booths or on a complimentary pontoon boat ride, take part in family activities, and sample free food. 

Each of us can make an effort to infiltrate stormwater, stop pollutants, and improve water quality in Easter Lake and other area waterways. Whether you're looking to set a new standard in your neighborhood or simply keep up with the Jones' - come along to see where to begin. 

Rainscaping Iowa is a brilliant resource if you're looking to implement a few of these ideas independently. For a few other resources, please visit our website

Oh, here’s a few other outdoor Rainy Day ideas for the fun-loving young (and old) in your family: puddle jumping, rain painting, catching raindrops on your tongue, monitoring the rain gauge (in order to collect data for ever-important precipitation-based discussions with friends and colleagues), mud painting, and backyard camping (still outdoors, but dry inside your lovely tent!).

And, finally for your viewing pleasure, a relevant Disney classic:

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Volunteer Heroes

We love our volunteers.

Polk County Conservation has accomplished so much in the last year alone – and this would not have been possible without those generously donating their time and skills to our mission.

Loads of you participated in co-sponsored events, privately organized cleanups, through your employer, or simply when you had a moment free. Altogether, over 13,000 hours were given by more than 2,000 volunteers in 2013. We're blown away!

As a thank you, volunteers are invited to join us at the Jester Park Lodge on Sunday, March 16 at 5:00 p.m. where we will highlight some of our volunteer projects and events from 2013. This year, Dan Kaercher, retired founding editor-in-chief of Midwest Living magazine and Iowa Public Television host, will be the special guest at our annual banquet. Dan spent years traveling in almost every one of Iowa’s 99 counties in search of close-to-home attractions and getaways to share with his loyal readers and viewers. In addition to his program, enjoy a catered dinner and awards.

If you have volunteered 10 hours or more in the last year with Polk County Conservation, RSVP for this event by Tuesday, March 11. Contact the Volunteer Coordinator on (515) 323-5280. If you’re unsure of the amount of hours worked, feel free to call to find out first.

Interested in joining our community of volunteers? Find more details and a list of regularly updated volunteer opportunities here or check in with our Volunteer Coordinator.

Here's an example of what our volunteers are getting up to in March:
A crew of DMACC Environmental Science students and staff have committed to volunteering one Sunday every month at Carney Marsh. Be a part of this restoration effort by coming along Sunday, March 2, 2014 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. No experience is necessary, and equipment is provided. You should, however, dress for the weather, bring appropriate shoes or boots, and bring along a refillable water bottle.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Winter Reading List

The new Polk County Conservation Book Worms book club kicked into gear at the start of 2014. This month, the group will be reading and discussing Red-tails in Love: A Wildlife Drama in Central Park by Marie Winn. We’ll continue to focus on books about human observations and interactions with our natural world in the coming months.

This month's book club will be taking place at Cafe Diem in Ankeny on Thursday, February 27 at 7:00-8:00 p.m. March's book club will take place on Thursday, March 28 at the same time. Pre-registration is required; deadlines are February 24 and March 24 for each respective month.

Thanks to a donation from the Great Outdoors Foundation, the first five people to sign up will receive a FREE book. Fee: $5. To register, click here.

Unable to attend our book club? Read along anyway! These three books are perfect for an evening in with a warm cup of tea and cozy blanket. Got a recommendation of your own? Leave a comment below or tweet us @polkccb #bookclub. 

Kids feeling left out? Here are a few recommendations for your young readers!

Preschool to 3rd Grade:

3rd Grade to 5th Grade: