Plans include gathering in keeping with recently released Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance about gatherings for people who have been fully vaccinated. The vaccination status of other people or whether they are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 is unknown, therefore, our activities will follow guidance to protect all of our Challengers and others, including wearing a well-fitted mask, when indoors or in an outdoor setting or venue where masks are required. We will be outside for almost all of this session, so the Challengers have been informed to wear comfortable shoes, to dress in layers, and to prepare for an unforgettable experience learning more about Missouri’s rural development, the evolution of agriculture, and come to understand the land, water, and energy needs of ethanol production, and how they may be addressed in a rural environment. We will also be taking a timely look at access to other infrastructure assets that might hinder or assist development of the region such as broadband access, transportation funding, public and private land restoration, conservation, and learn how local, state, and national regulatory policies might impact growth and opportunity.
The Board of Directors made the prudent decision to mix up the schedule for our 2021 sessions. Going second will be the popular north Missouri session because most of those events can be held outdoors while maintaining safe distance protocols. The third session will be held in Kansas City September 15-17 when hopefully even more are vaccinated. The final session is being planned for November 3-5 in St. Louis where we are hopeful to host an alumnae reunion on Thursday, November 4th at the host hotel at Union Station. Be watching as plans unfold.
But in the meantime, we look forward to this introduction to the issues facing smaller Missouri communities and how they are similar to or different from our more metropolitan areas.
Plans include farm tours and discussions about women in agriculture to include Pat and Ashley McCarty’s Farm west of Kirksville and Joshlin and Addie Yoder’s farm south and east of Kirksville in Shelby County. Addie is a GMLC Class of 2019 graduate and she and Joshlin are the recipients of the Missouri Leopold Conservation Award.
Ashley McCarty is the State Director of Missouri Farmer’s Care and she and Addie have been generous to join the planning team for this historic session that combines the Classes of 2020 and 2021. Debi Boughton, Kirksville Tourism Director and our regional coordinator, has worked with GMLF Board Chairman Carolyn Chrisman to arrange all of the special events to take place. Carolyn will be wearing her professional hat as the Executive Director of Kirksville REDI while she hosts all of our visitors to the region she is proud to call home. Other stops will include a look at the new Sue Ross Center in downtown Kirksville, a walking tour of Truman State University, and visit to a state of the art production and logistics fish farm where tilapia, bluegill, and bass are among the 20 different species of fish raised.
There are other special events planned to include an in-person keynote featuring Chris Chinn, the Director for the Missouri Department of Agriculture and a past Woman of the Year honoree who remains a steadfast supporter of Greater Missouri. We will tour the Poet Biorefining Ethanol plant and enjoy other hospitality in Macon. Our final day will be tempting to enjoy the cool waters of Forest Lake that provide the centerpiece for Thousand Hills State Park, whose woody shores and broad savannas recall a time when northern Missouri was far less developed. The lake offers fishing, swimming and boating. The park offers hiking, mountain biking and abundant opportunities to see wildlife. An interpretive shelter helps visitors understand the petroglyphs left behind by the area’s inhabitants more than 1,500 years ago. The park also offers campsites and cabins for overnight stays and we will enjoy the amphitheater when a Department of Conservation naturalist joins us to share best practices.
Our host hotel will be the Hampton Inn. If you are in the area, come and join in the fun during our hospitality time. For any questions or to learn more, contact Katie.