MISSOURI EXPLORERS PROGRAM

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The Missouri Explorers Program encourages people to travel across the state and participate in challenges to receive Missouri Explorers merit badge buttons. We are working to create fun and educational challenges that span our great state of Missouri.

The program ended Nov. 30, 2021. We have extended the deadline to upload photos to Dec. 6, 2021, 8 a.m. Please use the Submit Your Photos button, below, to upload your photos. 

Thank you to all of our Missouri Explorers who participated this year! We hope you had fun and will continue your travel adventures in Missouri!

THE EXPLORERS PLEDGE

I pledge to encounter the geographic and cultural diversity of Missouri with an open and curious mind.

I pledge to be responsible for my own learning – taking time to read the markers, ask good questions, and open up new avenues to explore.

I pledge to respect the land and respect the people I encounter.

I pledge to be responsible for my own safety and the safety of those around me.

I pledge to have fun and enjoy exploring the Great State of Missouri.

THE CHALLENGES

Below you will find an ever growing set of challenges that will take you throughout Missouri to explore and learn. A guide is provided for each challenge. Once you have completed a challenge, submit your photographs to receive your merit badge button.

Share your photographs on social media using the hashtag #MOExplorers!

AFRICAN AMERICAN HERITAGE CHALLENGE

One cannot understand Missouri history, life, and culture without looking to the state’s African American history. York, enslaved to William Clark, helped chart the course through Missouri for the Corps of Discovery. Debates about the institution of slavery and the future of enslaved and free Blacks shaped the Missouri statehood process, the resulting Missouri Compromise, and the landmark freedom suit of Dred and Harriet Scott set national policy. Missouri’s rich African American heritage is shaped by educators and entrepreneurs, artists and scientists, laborers and business leaders, athletes and musicians who lived, worked or grew up in Missouri’s borders. The African American Heritage Challenge is sponsored by The State Historical Society of Missouri.

BOONE'S LICK ROAD CHALLENGE

The Boone’s Lick Road was Missouri’s first main road to the west. From St. Charles, Bryan and Morrison’s Trading Post sold the precious commodity mined at the salt lick, which gave the Boone’s Lick community its name. Thousands of travelers used the road to reach the Santa Fe Trail, as it passed through St. Charles, Warren, Montgomery, Callaway, Boone, and Howard counties. The Boone's Lick Road Challenge is sponsored by the Boone's Lick Road Association.

BRANSON: WE BELIEVE IN ENCORES CHALLENGE

Tourists have made their way to Branson, Missouri, for over a century. As part of the Ozarks region, Branson offers captivating scenic beauty, southern hospitality, and wholesome entertainment for all ages. Whether you want to enjoy the booming live show scene, explore the Ozark Mountains and lakes, or be thrilled by all the attractions in town, there is something for everyone in Branson. The Branson: We Believe in Encores Challenge is sponsored by the Branson /Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau.

BUTTERFIELD TRAIL CHALLENGE

In 1857, the United States Congress authorized the Postmaster to contract for the conveyance of mail from the Mississippi River to San Francisco. John Butterfield won the bid to provide twice weekly mail service from St. Louis to San Francisco in 25 days or less. By 1859, there were almost 200 stations along the route. The overland mail stages were discontinued after the completion of the Union Pacific railroad in 1869. The Butterfield Trail Challenge is sponsored by Commerce Bank.

CAPITAL CITY CHALLENGE

Upon arriving in Jefferson City, visitors are captivated by the majestic Missouri River and tree-lined bluffs. Missouri’s capital, Jefferson City’s beauty shines not only through its natural landscape but also through its many historic buildings and special landmarks. The Capital City Challenge is sponsored by the Jefferson City Convention and Visitors Bureau.

CELEBRATE AMERICA IN THE OZARKS CHALLENGE

The Celebrate America in the Ozarks Challenge invites you to experience a love of country, respect for our state’s heritage, and a renewed sense of patriotism. Visitors to College of the Ozarks are welcome to experience the student industries – Edwards Mill and General Store, Stained Glass and Candle Shop, and The Keeter Center, a world-class dining and lodging facility. Whether it’s the roasted nuts at Edwards Mill, the peanut butter and jelly cookies at the Fruitcake and Jelly Kitchen, or the swans floating gracefully across Lake Honor, you will be captivated by the experiences at College of the Ozarks. The Celebrate America in the Ozarks Challenge is sponsored by College of the Ozarks.

DIG INTO JOPLIN CHALLENGE

From shootouts to Shoal Creek, Joplin’s varied history and landscape tell the story of a rough and tumble mining town that grew into a Route 66 icon and today serves as a testament to resiliency and the power of community. As Joplin nears its 150th birthday, this challenge celebrates what makes “The Town that Jack Built” a unique crossroads of the Midwest. The Dig into Joplin Challenge is sponsored by Visit Joplin MO.

DISCOVER MISSOURI COURTS CHALLENGE

In 2020, the Missouri court system celebrated its 200th anniversary. Missouri’s first constitution was adopted in July 1820. At that time, four judicial circuits and a state supreme court, known as the Supreme Court of Missouri, were created. That Court consisted of three judges, who traveled to four judicial districts. Today, there are 46 judicial circuits, an intermediate court divided into three districts (Eastern, Western, and Southern) known as the Court of Appeals, and seven judges who sit on the Supreme Court of Missouri. Find out more about the third branch of government through the Discover Missouri Courts Challenge, sponsored by the Supreme Court of Missouri.

FAMILY FUN: A KID'S ST. LOUIS CHALLENGE

St. Louis offers winning and illuminating escapades for all – from swaying toddlers to hard-to-impress teens. The diversity of memory-creating experiences makes St. Louis an unrivaled choice for vacations for all kinds of families. Factor in that so many of the area’s attractions are free, and a visit to St. Louis is especially appealing! Family Fun: A Kid's St. Louis Challenge is sponsored by The Magic House.

FIND YOUR FOUNTAIN IN THE CITY OF FOUNTAINS CHALLENGE

Kansas City, Missouri, is known as the City of Fountains. These unique and varied water sculptures and statuary do more than just give our neighborhoods and public spaces vitality and a special sense of place, they commemorate and celebrate the visions, deeds, and generosity of generations of Kansas Citians who helped make so many of our community’s wishes come true. Find Your Fountain in the City of Fountains Challenge is sponsored by Kansas City, Missouri, Parks and Recreation.

FOREST PARK ADVENTURE CHALLENGE

Forest Park is the crowning jewel in a collection of over 200 parks located in and around St. Louis. With more than 1300 acres of park to explore and amazing attractions to experience, you can enjoy endless activities to spark your curiosity and sense of adventure. The Forest Park Adventure Challenge is sponsored by Missouri Historical Society.

 

FRENCH COLONIAL HERITAGE CHALLENGE

Ste. Genevieve is the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in Missouri. Founded by French settlers around 1750, the town is also the oldest European settlement west of the Mississippi River. Numerous examples of the French vertical log architecture survive. This collection of buildings, constituting the historic village of Ste. Genevieve, was designated a National Historic Park by the United States Congress in October 2020. The French Colonial Heritage Challenge is sponsored by the Ste. Genevieve Welcome Center.

GERMAN HERITAGE CORRIDOR CHALLENGE

Missouri experienced one of the largest influxes of German immigrants in American history. For every census from 1850 to 1990, Germans were the leading immigrants to the state of Missouri, and to this day, German is the number one claimed ancestry in the state. The German Heritage Corridor Challenge is sponsored by Missouri Humanities Council.

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GET YOUR KICKS IN ST. LOUIS CHALLENGE

Since being designated a national highway in 1926, the “highway that’s the best” switched roads a few times going through St. Louis, adjusting to the city’s growth. That’s why there’s more than one Route 66 in the city. The purist will want to travel them all. The Get Your Kicks in St. Louis Challenge is sponsored by Explore St. Louis.

HISTORIC GEMS OF ST. LOUIS CHALLENGE

St. Louis is filled with civic treasures and historic sites that showcase the city’s French founding in colonial times, to westward exploration in the 1800s, leading to a developing and modern American metropolis sparked by industry and innovation. St. Louis has its share of interesting stories to tell! The Historic Gems of St. Louis Challenge is sponsored by Drury Hotels.

LIBRARIES IN THE LOU CHALLENGE

St. Louis Public Library encourages you to "meet the Library" by visiting various branch locations across the City of St. Louis. Each library hosts its own “Neighborhood Library” exhibit. The exhibits feature historical images of each library: early buildings, various library and neighborhood events, and noteworthy community members. They are all different and represent the history of each neighborhood, community, and library in a unique way. The Libraries in the Lou Challenge is sponsored by St. Louis Public Library.

MAKE YOUR DAY AT JACKSON COUNTY PARKS + REC CHALLENGE

Jackson County Parks + Rec is all about FUN when you take the challenge and spend a day or two in our parks. For the land lover, we have one of the largest park systems of any county in America. For the water enthusiast, Jackson County is home to fantastic beaches and lakes, with the finest public marinas in Missouri. The Make Your Day at Jackson County Parks + Rec Challenge is sponsored by Jackson County Parks + Rec.

MISSOURI CONSERVATION CHALLENGE

With more than 1,000 conservation areas and 1 million acres of public land managed by the Missouri Department of Conservation, most Missourians are within 30-minutes, if not closer, to green space. There are so many ways to connect with the nature, including hiking, canoeing, bird watching, fishing, hunting or spending time at a nature center. Grab your friends and family to go explore Missouri’s great outdoors! The Missouri Conservation Challenge is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation.

MISSOURI LAKES CHALLENGE

Missouri has hundreds of lakes where people enjoy the beauty of nature and recreation through boating, fishing and swimming. Whether in a state park, conservation area, or city public access, these lakes share a rich history enriching tourism, environmental resources and healthy outdoor recreation. The Missouri Lakes Challenge is sponsored by the Mark Twain Lake Sailing Association.

MISSOURI STATE PARKS 21 FOR '21 CHALLENGE

Long before statehood, Missouri’s natural resources formed into livable, sustainable landscapes for animals and humans. These landscapes would eventually become the main features for many of our Missouri State Parks. Explore unique natural wonders, learn about native peoples, and experience Missouri as people 200 years ago would have. The Missouri State Parks 21 for '21 Challenge is sponsored by Missouri State Parks.

MO EXPLORER CHALLENGE

MissourEE? MissourUH? It’s a state. A state of mind. And a person. Introducing Missouri. Mo, for short. She’s here to help you plan the best Missouri vacation ever. However you operate, she’s got you covered. So let’s dig in. Less talk, Mo action. The Mo Explorer Challenge is sponsored by the Missouri Division of Tourism.

MO200KC CHALLENGE

French pioneer Francois Chouteau is widely acknowledged as the Founding Father of Kansas City, Missouri, having established the area’s first fur trading post on the bluffs of the Missouri River in 1821. Learn more about Kansas City’s early history by visiting the sites on the MO200KC Challenge. The MO200KC Challenge is sponsored by the Kansas City, Missouri, Parks and Recreation.

NATIVE AMERICAN HERITAGE CHALLENGE

Missourians know so little of our rich Native American presence – mainly because a state law in 1839 made it illegal for Indians to reside in our state, a statute that was reinforced as late as 1899, and only repealed in 1909. There are many other states without a permanent Native community, whether it is a reservation, trust land, state recognized or federally recognized tribe. Yet, local, state, and national parks across Missouri tell the story of our Native presence, and not just about the Osage but also numerous other tribes who call Missouri home. The Native American Heritage Challenge is sponsored by Missouri Humanities Council.

ST. LOUIS ART SCENE CHALLENGE

St. Louis’ art scene is active, vibrant, and engaging. It is filled with music, motion, and artistic expression. Art in St. Louis is easily found: in traditional spaces like museums and galleries, on the street through an impressive array of murals and sculpture, and on the spot through live performance. Even historic places, like Bellefontaine Cemetery, abound with art through their architecture, design, and landscape. St. Louis’ art ranges from the transcending to the whimsical. The St. Louis Art Scene Challenge is sponsored by the St. Louis Arts Chamber of Commerce.

TRAVEL THE MOTHER ROAD CHALLENGE

Route 66 – the Mother Road – was born in Missouri. The highway, running from Chicago to Los Angeles, received its number designation via a telegram sent from Springfield’s Colonial Hotel on April 30, 1926. The Travel the Mother Road Challenge invites you to explore the roadside attractions and historic sites in Missouri that helped make Route 66 the Main Street of America. Travel the Mother Road Challenge is sponsored by the Lebanon-Laclede County Route 66 Society.

A WALK THROUGH TIME: MISSOURI CEMETERIES CHALLENGE

Missouri cemeteries provide a glimpse into the past, not only of people and the landscape, but of the state’s diverse political, social, military, art, and religious history. A Walk Through Time: Missouri Cemeteries Challenge invites you to explore Missouri’s rich history and culture through some of its historic cemeteries. A Walk Through Time Challenge is sponsored by Bellefontaine Cemetery and Arboretum.

THE WAY OF AMERICAN GENIUS CHALLENGE

Missouri is home to innovators, entrepreneurs, and leaders who have and continue to shape American history, life, and culture. The Way of American Genius Challenge invites you to explore the lives and legacies of Missourians who left their mark on not just the state but the nation. The Way of American Genius Challenge is sponsored by the Missouri Highway 36 Association.

WINDING DOWN IN WINE COUNTRY CHALLENGE

From the northwest corner to the bootheel, 126 wineries dot the Show-Me State’s landscape. Set amongst breathtaking views, Missouri wine country is overflowing with history and award-winning vino. There are palate-pleasing wines, serene sights and exciting events for everyone to enjoy at Missouri wineries. The Wind Down in Wine Country Challenge is sponsored by Missouri Wines.

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