Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A Rainy Day of Bright Beginnings

Making the Ground Breaking Official! Making the Ground Breaking Official!
(Pictured from left to right: Polk County Supervisor Robert Brownell, Polk County Conservation Richard Leopold, Great Outdoors Foundation & Campaign Co-chair Patricia Boddy, Polk County Conservation Board Member Tom Levis, Honorary Co-chair Robert E. Jester, and Des Moines Superintendent of Schools Thomas Ahart.

Shine or rain (in this case), ground was officially broken for the Jester Park Nature Center on March 29, 2017. Polk County Conservation would like to thank everyone who attended and those who helped make the nature center possible. We are excited to begin this journey with you!

Despite the rain, a large crowd of people came!

Patricia Boddy, Campaign Co-chair & Great Outdoors Foundation Board Member, addressing the crowd.

Atlatl Throwing

Nature Center Campaign Leadership Team Group Photo.

Renderings of the Jester Park Nature Center

Jester Park Nature Center Updates

Major grading of the Jester Park Nature Center building site is currently underway, as well as installation of the water main.

Grading of the main road in Jester Park near the Nature Center has also taken place with the next phases in progress. The road is on schedule to be completed before Memorial Day weekend.

Grading Equipment by the Jester Park Nature Center Site

Water Main Installation Materials

Main Entrance View of the Jester Park Nature Center

Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram @PolkCountyConservation for updates on the construction progress in real-time, beautiful landscapes, nature, wildlife, environmental education, and more!

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Construction Journey Begins

Welcome back to Polk County Conservation’s blog! Throughout 2017 and 2018, this blog will chronicle the Jester Park Nature Center and Outdoor Recreation & Nature Center’s construction progress.

We would like to take this moment to invite you, your family, and friends to join us to break ground on the Jester Park Nature Center on Wednesday, March 29th, at 1:30 p.m. at the future site of the building. Brief remarks, followed by an informal celebration with refreshments and activities will be available to the public. If you are unable to attend, we will be LIVE streaming the event on Polk County Conservation's Facebook page beginning at 1:30 p.m. on March 29th.

Road Closing Connected with the Nature Center Construction:

On March 13th, an interior portion of park road in Jester Park was closed for construction work connected with the Jester Park Nature Center. This section of road will be closed through late May 2017. It is currently being cleared of overgrowth and will then be widened to accommodate larger vehicles and the expected increase of traffic when the Nature Center opens.

The section being closed spans between the Hickory Ridge trail head just past the Youth Campground to the south edge of Discovery Pond.

Park users that want to access the amenities shown on the photo to the left should enter the park through the back (north side) entrance. Coming in from the south on NW 121st St., turn left onto NW 118th Ave. and follow the curve as it turns into NW 128th St. At the end of this road you will find the back entrance to Jester Park. Covenant Construction Services will begin construction on March 30 and will be in full force through Spring of 2018. The Jester Park Nature Center is funded in part through the Polk County Water and Land Legacy Bond in addition to both private and public contributions. The Grand Opening is anticipated for early June of 2018. 

Road Construction behind the future Outdoor Recreation Center
Road Construction in front of the future Outdoor Recreation Center

We are looking forward to the opportunity of sharing the construction progress of both the Jester Park Nature Center and the Outdoor Recreation & Wellness Center with you! Tune in next month and be sure to follow us on Instagram @PolkCountyConservation for updates on beautiful landscapes, nature, wildlife, environmental education, events, and more! You’ll be itching to get outside on our trails and parks after following this account.

Future site of the Jester Park Nature Center

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!