Joplin and Kirksville have been recognized as Missouri Children in Nature communities for creating an environment that encourages children to get outdoors and enjoy nature. The cities were recognized in a ceremony July 23 in the Governor’s Office.

The Children in Nature Challenge was created by executive order to challenge Missouri communities to enhance children’s education about nature and to increase children’s opportunities to personally experience nature and the outdoors.

“Children appear to benefit physically, mentally and even spiritually by reconnecting with nature, and we need to provide them with the opportunities to do so,” said Georganne Nixon, First Lady of Missouri. “We are pleased to announce the cities of Joplin and Kirksville have successfully completed the challenge.”

To successfully complete the challenge, the communities must meet several criteria, including increasing awareness of opportunities to connect to nature; providing outdoor activities and events; enhancing and creating outdoor areas; encouraging the use of nature-based curriculum in schools; and partnering with local organizations and businesses to connect children with nature. Joplin and Kirksville join the cities of Des Peres and Jackson, who completed the challenge this spring, and Springfield, who completed the challenge in 2011.

For more information about the Children in Nature Challenge, visit

Image courtesy Missouri DNR

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