Coming Soon...Jester Park Nature Center!

Polk County is the only metropolitan area in the state that does not have a nature center. There are 53 nature centers around the state of Iowa, none of which are located in Iowa's most populous county. It is difficult to capture in words what the Des Moines area is missing that others areas have, and certain questions arise...

Why does Polk County need a nature center?
What’s in it for me and my community?  

The Jester Park Nature Center will serve as one of Iowa's leading nature centers as well as a gateway to experience our state's natural environment. It will serve as a focal point within our community where recreation, education, tourism and conservation efforts all intersect into one goal - to protect, preserve and promote the landscape in which we live, work and play. There is considerable animosity in today’s world surrounding some natural resource and environmental topics, such as water quality and climate change. We need a neutral, science-based understanding to form the foundation of our opinions, plans and actions.

What will this nature center will help accomplish? 

Especially here in central Iowa, in the most urbanized area of our state, we need the understanding of natural systems, and human interactions, both in the rural and urban sectors. Now, more than ever before, we face many challenges and opportunities. Understanding basic scientific principles to face these challenges and possible solutions is needed to prepare our future citizens and leaders. The nature center will provide a place for minds to become more familiar and educated on nature; our bodies a number of activities to enjoy and grow healthier in the outdoors; and our soul a respite and re-centering in this fast-paced world in which we reside where we sometimes forget our roots. At Jester Park alone, our naturalists are reaching out to more than 7,000 people through approximately 450 public programs. Once built, these numbers are anticipated to double! Park attendance will also double and bring in more than one million people to the park each year.

To better appreciate our roles and responsibilities in this land and to strengthen our bond and ensure we leave a legacy for generations to come, a gathering place where all these goals come together to provide a platform for discovery must be present:

for Education increasing year-round environmental education opportunities with interpretive exhibits on the importance of biodiversity, water quality and conservation of natural resources as well providing inspiration through STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programming 

for Recreation offering an activity hub where families will have a starting point to their outdoor adventures with rental equipment such as cross country skis, snowshoes, insect nets and fishing poles available to all

 for Economic Development creating a destination site for tourists to engage in outdoor discovery

for Environment doing everything within our power to conserve and protect our environment and natural heritage - this nature center will bring to life this need to conserve 
(photo courtesy of Carl Kurtz)

for Community promoting health through increased outdoor skills programming and increased time in nature to improve health, wellness and quality of life for every park visitor

The Jester Park Nature Center will serve as a beacon for all, providing a gathering place for both resident and visitors of our community alike to immerse themselves in the richness of Iowa's natural history and the promising future ahead.  


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