NRPA Gold Medal Award
The American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA), in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) named Des Moines Parks and Recreation a finalist for the National Gold Medal Awards for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management in 2015, 2020, 2021 and 2022.  Our city is in the Class II category, which includes cities with a population of 150,001 to 400,000. 


Trust for Public Lands ParkScore

The Trust for Public Lands ParkScore Index evaluates how Des Moines Parks and Recreation ranks against 99 of the largest cities in the US in acreage, investment, amenities, access and equity.  The City of Des Moines improved in multiple categories including the equity category. Des Moines Parks and Recreation, and the city as a whole, continue to push forward on equity-focused park system development and programming, as guided by the department’s comprehensive plan, LiveDSM. Des Moines is the smallest city by population in the program and surpassed other cities such as Atlanta, San Diego, Tampa and Omaha.

2022 ParkScore - Rank #25 
2021 ParkScore - Rank #35 
2020 ParkScore - Rank #34 
2019 ParkScore - Rank #39


In the Public Interest Award
In February 2021,  along with Mayor Frank Cownie and City Manager Scott Sanders, Des Moines Parks and Recreation was presented with the In the Public Interest Award by the Taxpayers Association of Central Iowa. Each year this group awards an "individual, a local government or an intergovernmental project that best demonstrates the aggressive pursuit of efficiency over the past year."


Trees Forever Outstanding Group Award
Our UPCYCLE program was honored by Trees Forever in 2019 to honor organizations that exemplify the Trees Forever mission and make a difference in the community. 

UPCYCLE volunteers, in partnership with the City of Des Moines, Blank Park Zoo, Trees Forever, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, and Confluence Brewing help us improve our water quality, diversify our woodlands, and UPCYCLE our invasives into food and fun for Blank Park Zoo’s birds, reptiles, primates, and mammals. Volunteers will be provided gloves and tools to cut, remove, and treat invasive plants crowding out our woodlands and natives.