Des Moines Fire and Police Launch Summer Academy For Young Women

Press Release

Des Moines, Iowa — Thursday, March 31, 2022 — Women are a critical part of the future for the Des Moines Police and Fire Departments and the Iowa National Guard. That’s the idea that’s fueling the Iowa Hero Academy, a summer camp launching this year to help young women explore careers in firefighting, law enforcement and military.

Local high school aged girls (15-18) will be given an opportunity to learn from local first responders with hands-on activities at the overnight camp that will take place at Camp Dodge from July 17-22.

The application deadline for the Iowa Hero Academy is April 29, 2022.

"We are thrilled to introduce dozens of young women to our careers and show them how they can make a difference,” Des Moines Fire Department Fire Medic Hali Van Velzen said. “This is our passion and an opportunity for us to show these students that women can achieve anything as a first responder."

The Iowa Hero Academy will feature hands on activities that may include firearm simulations, defensive tactics, hydrant and hose practice and search and rescue drills.

“The women in our force are great firefighters and passionate about what they do,”

 Des Moines Fire Department Chief John TeKippe said. “This academy is designed to show young women what is possible and give them the connections and skills to help them find their passions.”

In addition to physical training exercises, drills and ride alongs with the Des Moines Police, the Iowa Hero Academy will feature career panels and guest speakers including local heroes, emergency management leaders and elected officials.

“We see how important it is to have women in law enforcement every single day,” Des Moines Police Chief Dana Wingert said. “The women leading this camp are the perfect role models to teach these students decision making and leadership skills that will last them a lifetime, no matter what career path they choose.”

Learn more about the Iowa Hero Academy and apply by April 29 at

Al Setka
Chief Communications Officer, City Manager’s Office
(515) 283-4057

Paul Parizek
Public Information Officer, Des Moines Police Department 
(515) 720-4043

About the City of Des Moines
The City of Des Moines: Iowa’s capital city and local government servicing more than 217,000 residents, 51+ neighborhoods, over 4,000 acres of parkland and 81 miles of trails. The City of Des Moines stands to be a financially strong city with exceptional city services, fostering an involved community in a customer friendly atmosphere. Visit, Facebook and Twitter for more information.