Trees Forever works with volunteers in local communities to care for trees, native plants, and prairies. Together, they have organized more than 4,000 projects to plant more than 2.8 million trees and shrubs across Iowa and Illinois. The tree plantings, which take place in both rural and urban areas, help improve water and air quality, increase energy conservation, and help restore and beautify the natural environment. The organization’s urban farms, trail enhancement, and disaster-recovery efforts also connect locals to nature and serve as a resource for food and recreation. Another focus of Trees Forever is engaging the public in environmental stewardship. It produces educational materials for this purpose, such as the Spirit of the Trees documentary series, which examines Native Americans’ relationship with trees and forests.
Founded in 1933, the Cedar Rapids chapter of the Iowa Junior Chamber of Commerce—or Jaycees—hones the leadership skills of its members through projects and programs that benefit the community. Once-a-month Sunday breakfasts bring locals together in the common pursuit of pancakes, and Uptown Friday Nights in Green Square Park are filled with music, food, and drinks. The Jaycees also fling wide the doors of its newly opened Jaycee Center to renters for conferences, parties, wedding receptions, and driving-school-class reunions.
The men’s league at Belle Plaine Country Club is no joke: its member roster boasts 112 players. As course manager Mike Coffman points out, “It’s an impressive number for a small town"—and a testament to the course’s charms. Its bluegrass fairways have become a lively gathering place for the community. The pines, elms, and oaks dotting the fairways have flourished for more than 80 years, during which time they've been nourished by a steady diet of misaimed balls and frustrated golfers’ tears. Two-time PGA champion Lonnie Nielsen, who grew up playing on the course, can still occasionally be seen teeing off here.
The course challenges players with tricky water hazards, and balls have to strap on their crampons and take out their rock picks to ascend the eighth hole’s elevated green. After a day spent on the fairways or at the driving range and practice putting green, players can unwind with a slice of pizza or a hamburger at the snack bar.
Course at a Glance: * Nine-hole, par 36 course * Length of 3,008 yards * Course rating of 67.6 * Slope rating of 111
Three animal-welfare advocates started the Iowa Humane Alliance in 2008 to reduce companion-animal homelessness and shelter overpopulation by spaying or neutering local animals. It assists local shelters, pet owners, and feral-cat caretakers with a sterilization program and a hotline that provides information about spaying or neutering. Additionally, Iowa Humane Alliance is in the process of expanding to include a high-volume clinic that will provide up to 8,000 spay or neuter surgeries every year.
After adopting The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation as its national philanthropy project in 1992, Zeta Tau Alpha women's fraternity has worked to raise funds and awareness for the disease at college campuses across the country. The University of Iowa chapter's annual 5K corrals runners, walkers, and pogo stickers in the heart of Iowa City's Lower City Park to kick off the 3.1-mile race, which runs a circular route through campus. After participants cross the finish line, a post-race celebration awards prizes to top finishers and restocks energy reserves for all with food and drinks served by event sponsors. Runners can also opt for a complimentary massage to soothe tired muscles or whimpering tennis shoes, and participants take home an event T-shirt (while supplies last) to commemorate the trek.
Founded in 1921, Dane County Humane Society (DCHS) is an open-admission shelter that cares for approximately 7,000 animals every year—including companion animals, exotic species, farm animals, and injured or orphaned wildlife. It accepts all animals regardless of age or health condition. In 2003, DCHS partnered with the University of Wisconsin's School of Veterinary Medicine to become the first organization to treat ringworm, an infectious disease once thought untreatable in animals, and has since saved the lives of more than 650 cats.
Every animal that enters DCHS’s facility receives necessary medical treatments. After being microchipped and evaluated for behavioral issues, companion animals are placed with permanent families. The organization also helps rehabilitate ill, injured, or orphaned wildlife through its Four Lakes Wildlife Center program. When not working directly with animals, DCHS advocates for humane animal laws and provides outreach programs to teach people about animal welfare.