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Rooted in Nature

Re-connect with nature & improve your health & wellness by attending one of the 2020 Rooted in Nature series programs. Enjoy the calming, restorative power of nature via the 25+ health & wellness programs offered at various Polk County Conservation parks.

Wellness Programs

Research has proven time in nature lowers blood pressure, improves depression, anxiety and decreases cortisol levels. Trees and plants in nature give off chemicals called Phytoncides. These forest chemicals boost the immune system, improve mental health, and self-esteem. Many doctors are now prescribing nature to improve the patients overall health and wellness.

Dr. Suzanne Bartlett Hackenmiller, Integrative Physician and one of the first certified forest therapy guides in Iowa says, “There’s just been an explosion of interest in this in the last coop couple of years, and an increasing understanding that this is real medicine, both by people who practice it and in health care.”

One example of the Rooted in Nature programs is Shinrin-Yoku. Shinrin-Yoku, a Japanese term meaning, “forest bathing”, is a guided mindful nature practice where participants are invited to explore their natural surroundings via various sensory experiences. Research finds that time spent in nature, in this way, offers health benefits ranging from improved mental well-being and memory to reducing cortisol levels, fighting cancer, and improving heart health.

Join us for one of our many wellness programs here.

Hike for Health - 9:30am

  • May 18 - Yellow Banks Park
  • June 15 - Jester Park Nature Center
  • July 20 - Fort Des Moines Park
  • August 17 - Thomas Mitchell Park

Why walk the mall when you can be enjoying the great outdoors? Hike along with this friendly group of nature lovers who walk the trails each month for exercise and fun. Ages 5+. No registration required. FREE.

Shinrin Yoku on June 6 at 10:00am - Fort Des Moines Park 

Explore the unique healing path of Shinrin Yoku or Japanese Forest bathing with Brandy Case-Haub, a certified forest guide. This mindful walk will invite you to use your senses to enhance your well-being. Ages 12+. Preregistration deadline is June 4. Cost: $15. Click here to register.

Mindful Walking on June 9 at 6:30pm - Jester Park Nature Center

Enjoy time walking mindfully on this silent, meditative walk with Andrew from Walking Space. This walk serves as an introduction to walking as a mindful practice. It helps us slow down, observe, and connect to the things we often miss in our daily lives, shifting our attention and being present in the moment. Ages 21+. Preregistration deadline is June 7. Cost: $10. Click here to register.

Sunset Yoga

  • June 9 at 8:00pm - Jester Park Nature Center, (registration deadline June 7)
  • July 13 at 8:00pm - Jester Park Nature Center, (registration deadline is July 11)
  • August 19 at 7:00pm - Jester Park Nature Center, (registration deadline is August 17

Take time to unwind as the sun sets on the outdoor plaza of the Jester Park Nature Center. The class will begin with a short nature hike to give participants a chance distress and enjoy the beauty of nature. The yoga class is perfect for beginners. Items to bring: yoga mat and blocks, hiking shoes, comfortable clothing, water bottle. In case of inclement weather, the class will be inside the Nature Center. Ages 12+. Preregistration required. Cost: $15. 

Metaphors of Nature: A Journaling Workshop on June 11 at 6:00pm - Brown's Woods

Come learn how mindful observation of nature’s order can deepen our understanding of the self. We will learn to utilize nature journaling to connect with ourselves to build awareness of our life story through natural metaphors in the wild. Ages 12+. Preregistration deadline is June 9. Cost: $15. Click here to register.

Shinrin Yoku on June 25 at 6:00pm - Jester Park, Shelter #5

Explore the ancient healing path of Shinrin Yoku or Japanese Forest bathing with Dr. Suzanne Bartlett Hackenmiller, Integrative Medicine physician. This mindful walk will invite you to use your senses to enhance your well-being. Ages: 12+. Preregistration deadline is June 23. Cost: $15. Click here to register.

Shinrin Yoku on August 4 at 6:00pm - Jester Park Nature Center

Explore the natural healing path of Shinrin Yoku or Japanese Forest bathing with Crystal Berkens, a certified forest guide. This mindful walk will invite you to use your senses to enhance your well-being. Ages 12+. Preregistration deadline is August 2. Cost: $15. Click here to register. 


View Wellness Programs

Shinrin Yoku - June 6, June 25, August 4

Hike for Health - May 18, June 15, July 20, August 17

Sunset Yoga - June 9, July 13, August 19

Mindful Walking - June 9

Metaphors of Nature: A Journaling Workshop - June 11


Parks, trails, and campgrounds are open! More information... COVID-19 Operations Update