Derecho: a line of intense, widespread, and fast-moving windstorms and sometimes thunderstorms that moves across a great distance and is characterized by damaging winds.

On August 10th, Des Moines and many other parts of Iowa experienced the strength of this natural phenomenon first hand. While it was happening, though we knew it was bad, many of us did not know the extent of the damage that was being done. After emerging from houses and places of work it soon was obvious to many of us how bad things had actually gotten. Huge trees down in the middle of the road, power lines strung across rooftops, entire fields of corn completely flattened. This was a devastating event. Many times in life you find out how strong a community is when things seem to be their worst - this was exactly one of those times. Our team was tasked with asking for the community to volunteer to help with cleanup in our parks, we knew we would have a good response but we were blown away by what we received. Even more impressive than the 103 volunteer shift positions filled were their attitudes and determination to not let something like this keep Des Moines down. Day after day for almost a week and a half, volunteers helped our team get our parks back to as close to normal as they could. We as a Department cannot give enough thanks to every single one of the volunteers who gave some of their time to help our City recover from this disaster - thank you, thank you, thank you.
Weeks Middle School Playground Build

On August 20th, Des Moines Parks and Recreation teamed up with the Police Department and Des Moines Public Schools to build a playground at Weeks Middle School on the south side. This partnership allowed the school to gain a playground while satisfying one of the zones in that part of town that our Department classified as a red-zone (neighborhood without a playground within 10 minutes walking distance for most residents). We can't thank the Police Department enough for volunteering their time to come out and help our team build this playground for the school.
Preserving the past at Des Moines' historic Woodland Cemetery! 

In 1848, five local farmers donated 5.5 acres of land to create Woodland Cemetery. Originally known as Fort Des Moines Cemetery, the first burial in this historical cemetery happened in 1850 and the City of Des Moines took ownership in 1857. In 1864, the City added 36.5 acres and was expanded to 69 acres later. Designated in 1986 as a local historic landmark, efforts are underway to protect and preserve the memories and stories of the 50,000 buried within this unique location.  

Over the years, dirt, lichens, mold and mildew have taken a toll on the stones and some that are porous (sandstone and limestone) have broken them down. Maintenance of stones typically is the responsibility of the owner but in this cemetery, many of the families have moved away or are long since passed. A generous gift from the community is allowing staff, contractors and volunteers to help restore the stones and protect the memories and history within this cemetery. The first phase of the project is lifting, straightening and securing stones that have shifted over time. Following this, volunteers and staff will work together in small groups to clean the stones.  

Due to COVID -19, we have made a few adjustments to this program this year. Groups will be limited to 10 per shift. We will have volunteers work independently and separate of each other, unless they are from the same family. We ask that everyone respect each other’s space and stay 6 feet away at all times, especially while the instructions for the project are being given. We have attached the waiver you will need to complete as well. Our preference is to have everyone fill it out and return it before the event to avoid a line to sign up onsite. You can send the form back to 

Call 248-6399 or text DSMVOLUNTEERS to 84483 to sign-up for weather-related updates.

If you are interested in signing up, press the button below.
National Public Lands Day

What: National Public Lands Day is the largest single-day volunteer effort for America’s public lands. Each year, hundreds of thousands of volunteers come together on the fourth Saturday in September nationwide to assist with various projects designed to restore and enhance public parks, forests, waterways, and more. National Public Lands Day Des Moines is hosted by the City of Des Moines Parks and Recreation Department, Polk County Conservation, and Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. We invite the public to join us along Fourmile Creek, Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt, or Snyder Farm to celebrate National Public Lands Day. Together, we will celebrate by improving our trails and waterways, assisting with land restoration, and building community by removing litter from our green spaces or collecting prairie seed by hand. Come celebrate National Public Lands Day with us!

Although this event will be slightly different this year, we know many volunteers are eager to get outside and give back to their community. America’s public lands aren’t the only ones that benefit from National Public Lands Day. Nature offers one of the most reliable boosts to mental and physical well-being. Spending time in the outdoors has been found to improve short-term memory, concentration, and creativity—while reducing the effects of stress and anxiety. Volunteering on NPLD is a great opportunity to spend time with family and friends (from a safe distance, if not in the same household) and enjoy the many benefits that come from connecting with nature.

If you are interested in signing up, click the below.

Our second day of UPCYCLE was a success! This time around we had 10 volunteers, 5 of which had never participated in the event before. They managed to donate over a truckload of shrubs to Blank Park Zoo to take to their animals for browse. Much more shrubbery was cut out but Blank Park Zoo already had enough browse due to the excess knocked down by the derecho. September 17th will be the last date of the season, all spots are filled right now but you can sign up for the wait list in case anyone is unable to attend.

If you are interested volunteering click the button below.
George Davis Softball Complex

George Davis has been a part of the Des Moines Parks and Recreation team for over 40 years, in 2019 he was awarded the Volunteer Lifetime Achievement Award for all he has done for the Department. George is also very well known for his involvement in softball, from coaching teams, umpiring, and running leagues for our Department, the name Davis has been synonymous with the sport for many years. Earlier this year, City Council honored George by naming the Greater Des Moines Softball Complex, after him. This complex will now be known as the George Davis Softball Complex. We want to help honor and thank George for all he has done over these years.
FORE! Our Parks!

On September 18th at Waveland Golf Course (4908 University Ave) our partner Friends of Des Moines Parks, will be hosting their 7th annual FORE! Our Parks! Golf Tournament and Bike Ride. Our Friends strive to preserve, protect, improve and promote the use of Des Moines Parks. Proceeds support Des Moines Parks and Recreation projects ranging from special events and swim lessons to helping update park amenities, such as the Union Park rocket slide and E911 markers. Our Friends also volunteer at many of our events and have sponsored volunteer events, such as Earth Day Trash Bash for years!

If you are interested in donating or learning more about how you can support of Friends, please visit their webpage at

To learn more about the the FORE event, click the button below.