Good Neighbor Iowa announces new grant program: Parks for a Sustainable Future

posted by Guest Blogger on Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Good Neighbors Vision for the Future Digging in the Dirt with ShovelsImagine you are walking to a park with your child. It’s a hot summer day. When you get there, there is a sign saying, “Sprayed 24 hours ago.” Would you continue forward to let your child play? Now imagine if it was an option to go to a park where there was no concern about the pesticides and other chemicals having been sprayed. Which would you choose?

As a graduate student at University of Northern Iowa majoring in Community Health and Recreation, and a Student Fellow for Good Neighbor Iowa (GNI), I am working towards that. GNI aims to reduce unnecessary urban pesticide use and to transform lawn culture to encourage appreciation of diverse lawns as a way to protect child health, pets, water quality, pollinators, and biodiversity.

This initiative promotes alternative, low-maintenance, and safe ways to manage beautiful, biodiverse lawns that support ecological health and reduce the amount of toxic chemicals our families and pets are exposed to. My work at Good Neighbor Iowa is focused on outreach within the communities all around Iowa, specifically stakeholders within parks and land where community members spend their time. 

Cleveland Park SignsAt the beginning of 2022, Good Neighbor was contacted by Beyond Pesticides to help out with outreach of their recently launched program called Parks for a Sustainable Future, to help communities transition to natural, organic land management!

In this program, the premier natural land management company Osborne Organics will work directly with local community land managers to transition two public green spaces (chosen by the community managers) to organic lawn care practices. Education and training is provided to community land managers to be able to transition further sites in the future, should they choose to do so. In total the value of the program is $9,500, but thanks to funding from Natural Grocers, it is completely FREE for communities in Iowa that wish to participate! 

This program not only helps to transition green spaces into a more sustainable and organic space, but also will reduce the harmful effects of pesticides for children, pets, and communities as a whole. We are excited to help bring awareness to ways to be more environmentally sustainable in your lawn care, but also bring light to a partner who is helping communities start their journey to organic lawn care practice. 

Little Girl at the Park

Reducing cosmetic pesticides helps reduce exposure to toxic materials in public spaces for children, pets and community members. Reducing pesticides will also prevent algae bloom in community watersheds from cosmetic fertilizer pollution. Going organic will protect pollinators, birds, and other wildlife. A major benefit of reducing pesticides will set a positive example for the community and encourage educational opportunities.

Through my work in outreach I have been able to speak to many stakeholders within communities all around Iowa, and spread awareness of ways to better the environment that their community members live in. We’ve been hard at work spreading awareness and outreach throughout 2022 and are excited to see who will partner with us. We have had a lot of traction within the communities of Davenport and Dubuque. Partnering with Beyond Pesticide has given us such hope because we now have a solution that we can present to communities during outreach. This fills the gap to connect communities within Iowa with a realistic solution. We hope that through our outreach more communities will hear about us and connect.

If you know any parks officials, conservation boards or community officials, please get in touch and spread the word of conservation. For more information go to Good Neighbor Iowa Website or email

About the Author

Madeline FritzMadeline Fritz is a Master’s student at the University of Northern Iowa, studying Community Health and Recreation. Madeline provides program support for Good Neighbor Iowa operations and specializes in outreach.

  1. land stewardship
  2. public health

About The Author

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