Rooted in Nature

Re-connect with nature & improve your health & wellness by attending one of the 2021 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.

Shinrin Yoku - Forest Bathing

May 15, 1:30-3:30pm at Yellow Banks Park

June 5, 10am-Noon at Mally's Park

June 24, 6-8pm at Jester Park

July 17, 10am-12pm at Jester Park, Shelter #2

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.


DEADLINE: Two days before the event

COST: $15

AGES: 12+

Nature Music Rhythms

May 15, 10am-Noon at Yellow Banks Park

Join us for a music therapy facilitated drumming class in the beautiful natural setting at Yellow Banks Park. This class allows participants to connect with the rhythms of nature via drums and other instruments. Being present and utilizing your senses allows for stress relief and mindfulness. Enjoy a unique way to connect with nature. The class will practice Covid protocol of small group size, social distancing and face masks. Drums and other instruments are provided. Crystal Berkenes, MT-BC, will lead this Rooted in Nature program.

REGISTRATION: Required, click here to register

DEADLINE: Register by May 13

COST: $15

AGES: 8+

Sunset Yoga

May 17, 7:30-9pm

June 21, 8-9:30pm

July 19, 8-9:30pm

August 24, 7-8:30pm

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. The focus is on creating a mind and body nature connection as the sunsets. This Rooted in Nature program is one of many being offered in sponsorship with Unity Point. In case of inclement weather, the class will be in the Nature Center. 

Items to bring: yoga mat and blocks, hiking shoes, comfortable clothing, water bottle. 


DEADLINE: Two days prior

COST: $15

AGES: 12+

Shinrin Yoku & Outdoor Adventure Kayak Retreat

Enjoy a day of Shinrin Yoku and outdoor adventure nature immersion with Dr. Suzanne Bartlett Hackenmiller, Integrative Medicine Physician and author of “The Outdoor Adventure’s Guide to Forest Bathing”.  We will go on a woodland hike and kayaking at Jester Park’s Discovery Pond all while integrating Forest Bathing/Shinrin Yoku practices. This class is for all levels of outdoor adventures with the focus being reconnecting to nature. 

REGISTRATION: Required, click here to register

DEADLINE:  Register by August 4

COST: $30

AGES: 16+

Shinrin Yoku - Japanese Forest Bathing -

May 15, June 5, June 24, July 17

Nature Music Rhythms - May 15

Sunset Yoga -

May 17, June 21, July 19, August 24

Shinrin Yoku & Outdoor Adventure Kayak Retreat - 

August 6