Rooted in Nature

Connect with Nature by hiking a trail, exploring a park, kayaking or canoeing, picnicking in the park, birding at a PCC natural area, registering for a Rooted in Nature program. Take time out and enjoy nature at one of 23 Polk County Conservation parks and natural areas.  

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.

Watch these videos to learn more about Shinrin Yoku and Sunset Yoga

Shinrin Yoku (Forest Bathing)

August 19, 9-11am at Fort Des Moines Park, Shelter #3

September 30, 1-3pm at Jester Park, Shelter #5

October 15, 1-3 pm at Brown's Woods

Explore the natural 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. This Rooted in Nature program is one of many being offered in sponsorship with Unity Point.


DEADLINE: Two days prior

COST: $15

AGES: 12+

Hike for Health

August 21, 9:30-10:30am at Brown's Woods

September 18, 9:30-10:30am at Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt

October 16, 9:30-10:30am at Yellow Banks 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.


DEADLINE: The day before

COST: Free

AGES: 10+

Sunset Yoga

August 21, 7-8:30pm at Jester Park Nature Center

September 26, 6:30-8pm at Jester Park Nature Center

Take time to unwind as the sun sets on the outdoor plaza or the Great Hall 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. The focus is on creating a mind and body nature connection as the sunsets. This Rooted in Nature program is offered in sponsorship with Unity Point. Items to bring: yoga mat and blocks, hiking shoes, comfortable clothing, water bottle


DEADLINE: Two days ahead

COST: $15

AGES: 12+

Journey with the Raven: A Guided Meditation

November 6, 6-7:30pm at the Jester Park Nature Center

Journey with the Raven on this guided meditation to a path of self-discovery.  The meditation will be led by Kara Simons, founder of Joyful Resonance. Explore the rich symbolism of animal characteristics and attributes. Nature invites us to get comfortable with the unknowns and be present to receive gifts of insight. Join us for a unique evening.


DEADLINE:  November 5

FEE: $15

AGES: 14+

Shinrin Yoku

August 19, September 30, October 15

Hike for Health

August 21, September 18, October 16

Sunset Yoga

August 21, September 26

Journey with the Raven

November 6