• Lafayette County school districts have used the virtual reality goggles to explore national monuments such as the Mount Rushmore and the Lincoln Memorial. Youths have also visited the pyramids in Egypt, checked out the Great Barrier Reef and various rain forests, and experienced multiple national parks.

HIGGINSVILLE, Mo. – In April 2023, local voters approved a tax levy for the expansion and improvement of extension-related services to Lafayette County. This investment focused on financial security, hands-on learning, bridging technology and health gaps, and establishing and improving educational and engagement facilities for Lafayette County.

Since this tax approval, the University of Missouri Extension District in Lafayette County has made strides toward its long-term goals. Highlights include:

• Hiring a full-time youth program associate to serve Lafayette County 4-H through community clubs and school enrichment programming.

• Purchasing virtual reality goggles that have been used by more than 536 Lafayette County youths in three local schools to explore a variety of topics and locations.

• Hiring a legal team, Gilmore & Bell of Kansas City, to help manage business risk and ensure compliance with all applicable regulations.

• Conducting internal listening sessions to determine current needs of MU Extension educators in Lafayette County.

• Hiring an engineering consulting firm, Allstate Consultants headquartered in Columbia, to provide expertise on the future extension center and fairgrounds facilities.

According to Clyde Burchett, extension district chair, these initial steps “help provide stability to Lafayette County Missouri Extension. The groundwork established in 2023-24 sets the foundation for improved educational resources, increased capacity for programming, expanded partnerships to strengthen the future of our county extension.”

Programs like 4-H, Small Business Development, Master Gardeners, livestock programming, and healthy lifestyle resources look to further expand their reach as community members and organizations connect MU Extension with local needs. Upcoming plans include external community listening surveys to gather local visions for the future extension center and fairgrounds facilities.

Contact: Mandy Thaller, project liaison, University of Missouri Extension District in Lafayette County, 660-584-3658,

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