Sara Bridgewater, MPH
University of Missouri Extension
Bates County a very rural county in west central Missouri with a population of 16,051 and 77% of the population live in a rural area. Bates County has many health and education concerns including: 38% of the population is obese and 33% of the population is physically inactive (County Health Rankings, 2022). Nearly 20% of the population in Bates County being 65 or older and Missouri’s rate of injury by falling is 31 percent higher than the national average. 18.1% of children are food insecure and 33.5% of children live in a family that receives SNAP benefits (Kids Count, 2018). A local elementary school in Bates County shared the results from a Kindergarten Screening in 2019, 40% of students were not ready for kindergarten. To help address these concerns, the Bates County Extension Office secured a an AmeriCorps 3-year grant. Efforts have led to Creating a Healthier Bates County, a county-wide volunteer program of older adults and collaboration with stakeholders while incorporating many service projects in the county to address these concerns. There are currently 10 service projects focusing on health and education concerns of Bates County including. The community partnership transformed into a county-wide collaboration, 82 (and growing) older adults volunteering across the whole county, and positive health and education outcomes with the Bates County Extension Office leading those efforts. To learn more, connect with Bates County Extension or Sara Bridgewater.