2018 Annual Conference

"Rural Rally"

October 14 & 15, 2018


55th Annual Conference celebrates longest standing statewide
 community betterment/development organization in the nation

Columbia, Mo. (October 15, 2018) – Missouri Community Betterment (MCB) honored 19 communities, nine youth groups and 10 community leaders at their 55th Annual Conference held in Columbia, Mo. on Oct. 15, 2018. Nearly 200 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 2018 theme “Rural Rally,” 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 placemaking, marketing and rural broadband to avoiding volunteer burnout and leadership succession planning. Featured speakers and organizations included the Missouri Department of Economic Development; University of Missouri Extension; keynote speaker Deb Brown with Saveyour.town; Andrew McCrea, nationally syndicated radio broadcaster of “American Countryside”; Dr. Arthur Mehrhoff, Missouri Humanities Council; Dr. Sean Siebert, innovation consultant from Cuba, Mo.; MIZZOU Alternative Breaks; and, Mark Kempker, “Bringing the HEET” a multi-pronged approach to addressing heroine usage.

The community of Buffalo, Mo. won the Gene Speichinger Community of the Year Award. This award recognizes the outstanding community amongst the 19 entered in the 2018 awards program. MCB volunteer judges and board members were impressed with the strong base of passionate volunteers representing all aspects of the community including youth representative and governing officials. Buffalo community members understand the value of creating a venue for entertainment and a unique experience for visitors while maintaining a community that consists of caring, service-minded volunteers who protect and continue to improve upon the quality of life for all residents.

“The Missouri Community Betterment Board congratulates all the volunteers from our communities throughout the state,” MCB President Louis Riggs 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 evening 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 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: Caledonia
Second Place: Annapolis
Third Place: Allendale

Category II
First Place: Mansfield
Second Place: Osceola
Third Place: Steelville
Fourth Place: Lowry City

Category III

First Place: Houston
Second Place: Albany
Third Place: Ava
Fourth Place: Fayette
Fifth Place: Lathrop

Category IV
First Place: Buffalo
Second Place: Lamar
Third Place: Salem
Fourth Place: St. James

Category V
First Place: Perryville
Second Place: Cameron

Category I
First Place: Caledonia

Category II

First Place: Steelville

Category III
First Place: Houston
Second Place: Fayette

Category IV
First Place: Lamar
Second Place: Mt. Vernon
Certificate of Merit: St. James
Certificate of Merit: Salem

Category V
First Place: Perryville

Ambassador Award
John Gulick - Jefferson City

Leadership Awards

Adult Leadership Award

Albany: Derek Brown
Caledonia: Debra Bay
Cameron: Mike O’Donnell
Fayette: James Steele
Houston: Jim McNiell
Lamar: Jack Purinton
Louisiana: Linda Shade

Youth Leadership Award

Houston: Jaden Beasley
Lamar: Matthew Morgan
Louisiana: Abigail Moore

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. From 2008-2018 MCB communities poured more than $435,001,329 back into their local economies through their community development projects entered in the MCB annual awards program.

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. 

 2018 MCB Fall Conference Evaluation

Conference Evaluation

Governor Parson will Present the Community & Youth Awards October 15th beginning at 5 pm.

Speaker List
Dr. Amy Patillo Christel Gollnick Brenda Conway 
John Gulick Deb Brown  Tim Arbeiter
Andrew McCrea Dr. Sean Siebert  Janie Dunning
Dr. Arthur Mehrhoff Steve Henness  Mark Kempker
Click on speaker name for Bio


2018 Conference Schedule


For hotel reservations, please contact:
Stoney Creek Hotel & Conference Center
2601 S. Providence Road
573-442-6400 or 800-659-2220

Missouri Community Betterment is a Network of Progressive Communities

The Missouri Community Betterment (MCB) Program, established in 1963, is designed to facilitate, promote and showcase meaningful community efforts and serve as a conduit to technical assistance.  MCB helps Missouri communities enhance their life through overall community development, planning and implementation. The MCB Program accomplishes this mission primarily by connecting community needs with available resources; by officially recognizing the participating communities and neighborhoods; and by awarding those that excel in the program.

From 2008 to 2017 MCB Communities poured more than $431,897,542.01 back into their local economies through their community development efforts.   An annual breakdown is provided below.  MCB has provided service to more than 420 communities throughout their history covering all parts of the state.


 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 $435,001,329.011



“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

Missouri Community Betterment Educational Fund Inc.,
P.O. Box 105997, Jefferson City, MO 65110
Phone:660.383.1034 Fax:660.383.1202