Buffalo Tops 2019

Community Betterment Awards

56th Annual Conference celebrates longest standing statewide

community betterment/development organization in the nation


Mexico, Mo. (October 14, 2019) – Missouri Community Betterment (MCB) honored 13 communities, five youth groups and 9 community leaders at their 56th Annual Conference held in Mexico, Mo. on Oct. 14, 2019. Nearly 130 volunteers, community leaders and youth from across the state were in attendance to celebrate community and economic development efforts, network with each other and connect with resource providers. 

Within the 2019 theme “MCB - Your MAP to Progress,” attendees discussed how to think differently about their communities as they work to make them places where youth and adults alike want to build their lives. The event covered topics from down-town revitalization, successful shop local campaigns, managing the media mania, Missouri 2021 and more. The event kicked off on Sunday evening at 6:00 pm with a "Town Square Fair". This event allowed individuals from around the state to showcase their communities and network with resource partners in an effort to connect, learn and uplift each other. 
The community of Buffalo, MO won the Gene Speichinger Community of the Year Award. This award recognizes the outstanding community among the 13 entered in the 2019 awards program. MCB volunteer judges and board members were impressed with the collaboration among the various organizations within Buffalo that work cohesively to improve their quality of life. The judges were impacted by the community’s support of the local school district and the desire to see the schools be the best that they can be. All projects seemed to be connected to a central plan and moving forward together with excellent integration of a marketing plan that reaches far beyond the community of Buffalo. 
Lamar youth won the J.C. Smith Youth Group of the Year Award. This award recognizes the amazing community betterment accomplishments that are initiated, planned, implemented and carried out to completion and success by our youth. MCB volunteer judges stated "These youth are so internally driven, polished and strategic. Their projects were primarily to benefit pre-school and elementary children. It’s very impressive to see young teens so enthused about providing learning tools and fun experiences for the younger children. They were completely engaged in their projects and presented all the nuts and bolts of bringing their dreams to fruition." 
“The Missouri Community Betterment Board congratulates all the volunteers from our communities throughout the state,” MCB President Kat Morgan said. “These dedicated individuals and their collaborative community and economic development efforts continue to make Missouri’s rural communities a place people want to call home.”
The Monday Awards Banquet is an integral part of the MCB program. Most individuals within MCB participating communities are volunteers who have gathered a group of people who recognize the need for improvements and take it upon themselves to plan and facilitate group efforts to move their community forward. Many primary contacts are local business owners, elected officials and board members of various civic and nonprofit organizations. Local youth who are interested in leadership and civic engagement are also involved. MCB encourages communities to include and foster seniors, adults and youth in every aspect of their community betterment efforts. They are also invited to submit their projects each year in the awards program for recognition and celebration.
Following is a list of the 2019 community and individual award winners:
Gene Speichinger
Community of the Year Award: Buffalo

J.C. Smith
Youth Group of the Year Award: 

Community Awards Youth Groups
Category I
First Place: Annapolis
Second Place: Allendale
Third Place: Chamois
Fourth Place: Caledonia

Category II
First Place: Buffalo
Second Place: Houston
Third Place: Albany
Fourth Place: Steelville 
Fifth Place: Versailles    

Category III

First Place: Perryville
Second Place: Lamar
Third Place: Salem
Fourth Place: Cameron

Category I
First Place: Caledonia

Category II

First Place: Steelville
Second Place: Houston

Category III
First Place: Lamar
Second Place: Cameron


Ambassador Award
Greg Batson - Columbia

Leadership Awards

Adult Leadership Award

Cameron: Stephanie Williams
Lamar: Lee Howard
Louisiana: Sara Drummond
Perryville: Donald Fulford
Steelville: Jennifer Whitson

Youth Leadership Award

Caledonia: Heath Rhyneer
Lamar: Kyler Cox
Louisiana: Michelle Watts
Steelville: Emily Smith


The most active community participants tend to be those in rural regions with populations less than 5,000 residents and are not necessarily defined by traditional Geo-political boundaries as collaboration balanced with individual community pride is encouraged. 

MCB is managed by the Missouri Community Betterment Educational Fund full-time Executive Director and volunteer Board of Directors. MCBEF is a nonprofit organization established in 1963 that exists to benefit any community within the state and is funded by a combination of private businesses, individuals and foundations, public utilities, and federal and state agencies. The organization is the longest standing statewide community betterment organization in the nation focused on celebrating and connecting communities to each other and a network of resource providers to empower them to improve their quality of life.

To learn more about MCB, our programs and initiatives as well as information on the upcoming Fall Conference & Award Ceremony, October 13 & 14, 2019, click the link below.

Watch Now 


“The Missouri Partnership frequently works with companies looking in Missouri for potential locations to set up new operations.  We firmly believe that communities that invest in continuous improvement and ‘quality of place’ enjoy a competitive advantage in their efforts to attract new jobs and investment.  Companies searching for a new home will always favor a community that takes pride in itself and strives to better itself every day, and the Missouri Community Betterment program helps communities across the state to do just that.” Christopher Chung, CEO, Missouri Partnership

“Missouri Community Betterment is a tremendous association that recognizes the efforts and achievements of our state’s rural communities. As a former youth member, community member and State Board Member I am a product of the leadership development promoted by the association.” - US Congressman Jason Smith

“The MFA Oil Foundation’s mission is to support and invest in communities where we do business, to assure their continued prosperity. MCB’s mission is to provide assistance to many of those same communities to help them with improvement projects. With similar missions it seems only fitting that our Foundation should support MCB with the work that they do. As a MCB board member I have been very impressed with the dedication of many of the local community leaders as they attempt to make their town the best it can be”.  - Ken Caspall, MFA Foundation

The MCB conference provides networking for youth groups to learn what other communities have done and an opportunity to develop new plans for projects in their own home towns.  Developing leadership capacity and confidence in their abilities to work with adults gives the MCB youth participants great preparation for college and beyond. - Dave Garnett, Hawthorn Bancshares

MCB has helped me develop skills to be a leader in my school and community. Through my involvement in the youth program I have gained confidence and communication skills. The three MCB conferences I attended were fun and motivating. Having the opportunity to hear what others were doing to help their community has helped me bring new ideas to my town. Community Betterment has motivated my entire youth team to improve our community throughout the year. - Kenna Roland, Senior 2014, Lamar 2013 MCB Youth Leadership Award Winner

“As a MCB board member I have had a chance to observe first hand, how enthusiastically some of the MCB participating community’s youth become engaged in the projects they initiate in their communities.  These youth are the leaders of tomorrow and the leadership skills demonstrated in the local projects they under take can be exemplary.   Youth leadership recognition and civic engagement  is just another reason why the MFA Oil Foundation is a willing MCB Sponsor”. - Ken Caspall, MFA Oil Foundation

"Missouri Community Betterment and the Missouri Community Betterment Conferences have been a blessing to the youth in Steelville. The sessions and guidance given during the MCB conferences has allowed us to improve our community in many various ways." - Libby Wynn, Steelville Youth Group

"The Missouri Community Betterment Program is one of the best values a rural community can invest in to access professional assistance in community planning, development and technical expertise." - Kelly Smith, Missouri Farm Bureau

"MCB has provided our rural community with resources and opportunities to implement projects and help grow community support.  MCB allows our youth an avenue to be involved on a much larger scale in the growth and development of our community.  I have been involved with MCB for 25 years and the experiences I have been able to share with the youth of our community have truly been priceless.  Being involved with MCB, has opened many doors for our community, but the greatest reward for me has been the positive impact on our youth and the leadership opportunities provided to them." - Jodie Cottrell, youth group leader , Steelville

We invest in Missouri Community Betterment because we see firsthand the success the program is having in rural communities throughout the state. While across the Midwest we are seeing Main Streets close up shop, MCB communities continue to grow and provide a better quality of life for Missourians.” - Mark Woodson, Associated Electric Cooperative, Inc.

Founded by the Missouri Department of Economic Development, Missouri Community Betterment has provided outstanding technical assistance to Missouri’s rural communities for more than 50 years.  The support, energy, and success of the MCB program has continued to give participating communities the opportunity to thrive in today’s economy and make Missouri feel like home to growing businesses.” - Mike Downing, Director of Missouri Department of Economic Development

"Our Youth are just in awe of everything they did at conference and are ready to undertake all sorts of new challenges.  I was so proud or Kirk, who spoke at at a grant acceptance ceremony on Wednesday (week after the 2015 conference).  He spoke to 30 adults and stayed calm as a cucumber  and was the hit of the show.  Without the leadership skills he learned at the conference, I don’t know if he would have been so sure of himself.  Thanks is not enough, but the only word in English we have available." - Connie Johnson, Galena

In my opinion MCB has helped communities in our region by giving them a sense or organization/structure to go about improving their community on their own.  They have access to resources and a network to assist them in achieving their goals and it keeps community development in front of them all the time by having this nucleus active in the community.
Jackie Soptic, Assistant Director, Green Hills Regional Planning Commission

Due to their involvement with MCB and our local LCB organization, Louisiana now has a new basketball court in one of our city parks that is a large benefit to many of our residents. Encouraging our youth to be involved in their community now will help to ensure that there are those willing to step up to carry on in a volunteer position as they move into adulthood. It also helps the youth take a fresh look at where they live and take ‘ownership’ of their surroundings.” Diana Huckstep, Louisiana.

“MCB has had a great impact on the South Iron Community Betterment Association. They motivate us to ‘keep on keeping on!’ We are thankful for all that MCB offers and for the inspiration it gives us from year to year.”  Geri Simpson, South Iron/Annapolis

“MCB provides a partnership between so many communities big and small. The sharing of ideas thoughts and resources is endless. Lamar has received 382 MCB awards in the past 50 years. That is outstanding, but the best reward we can get is when another community has implemented a project in their community because of the partnership created through MCB.”  Elaine Davis, Lamar

“Community Betterment is made up of volunteers in collaboration with the local area youth. These individuals put in countless hours to make their communities a better place to live and raise a family. Community Betterment is the heart and soul of our rural communities, and provides many opportunities for its residents.” 
Representative Paul Fitzwater, District 144

“Ten youth and six adults attended enlightening sessions on entrepreneurship, positive ways to improve our town and networking. An idea for helping our town with house numbers originated from another community.” Elaine Campbell, Houston

“In my opinion MCB has helped communities in our region by giving them a sense or organization/structure to go about improving their community on their own. They have access to resources and a network to assist them in achieving their goals and it keeps community development in front of them all the time by having this nucleus active in the community.” Jackie Soptic, Assistant Director, Green Hills Regional Planning Commission

“I moved away from Albany for 26 years but kept up with my hometown through my friends, parents, and the local newspaper.  I read and heard about “Community Betterment” all those years believing it was a wonderful idea and a real benefit to the town.  In 2000, when I learned Albany was the Grand Champion for the whole state of Missouri, I was elated and boasted endlessly to my St. Louis friends…much to their chagrin!  When I moved back “home” to Albany in 2004, the first organization I wanted to join was Albany Community Betterment.  I was welcomed with open arms and have proudly remained active with our group since that time.  It has been so rewarding to see what we have accomplished for our community, to see our youth become involved, to hear folks from other towns ask “how does Albany do that?”  For 53 years, Albany has benefited from Community Betterment, and Community Betterment, I truly believe, has benefited from Albany’s participation!” Connie Worden

“Thank you for all the mentoring, encouragement, and recognition you have given us over the past year.  I wanted to make sure you knew what an impact the Missouri Community Betterment (MCB) involvement has had on our community.
When we won the Community of the Year Award (Gene Speichinger Award), it turned out to be so much more than just the fun of recognition and winning – it changed us.
Calling it “What Is” has great power.  It gave our community self-esteem and transformed our culture in ways that can’t be measured.  Most importantly, it set us on a totally different trajectory, and sparked a momentum that we will work hard to increase.
Thank you again for your patience and encouragement as we celebrate big and small victories.  
We can’t wait to see what happens next!”  Sue Dyle, Buffalo Community Betterment

New Venue

Heritage Fields

8287 Highway 15

Mexico, MO 65265

Register & Pay Online

Conference Registration Form

Conference Agenda

New this year - "Town Square Fair"

Showcase your community!

This is a "like-you've-never-seen-at-MCB" opportunity for every community to network, share, and learn from each other through visuals (Photos, videos, PowerPoint presentations, etc.) and dynamic conversations.


Think FUN town festival booth meets MEMORABLE science fair.

There's no need to spend a lot. Just bring what you can to show off what makes your community special! The Town Square Fair is for you to ask questions, share promising practices, and invite each other to "visit" your town!   Each community will be provided a table and 2 chairs.


If you wish to participate in this NEW portion of the

56th Annual MCB Fall Conference, complete the


Town Square Fair Registration Form


and e-mail to Teresa Snyder at Teresa@MOCommunityBetterment.com

or fax 660-383-1202 by August 30, 2019


Lodging Guide

Best Western, Holiday Inn Express and Days Inn


Dollars poured back into Missouri's Economy:            
 2008-2011 $324,916,122.00 
 2012 $11,440,256.00
2013 $37,027,425.00
2014 $10,803,079.09
2015 $36,673,625.13
 2016 $4,894,564.79 
 2017 $6,143,273.00 
 2018  $3,103,787.00 
 Total 2008-2018 $435,001,329.01


Missouri Community Betterment
P.O. Box 94, Fayette, MO 65248
Phone:660.888.7022 Fax:660.383.1202