The Missouri Parks Association (MPA) is a non-profit citizens organization – independent and non-partisan – dedicated to the protection, enhancement and interpretation of Missouri State Parks and Historic Sites. Founded in 1982 at a time of financial crisis for the park system, MPA has been a steadfast supporter and tireless defender of the state park system. The association's members and volunteers continue to support the three-fold mission of the Missouri state park system through education and advocacy and remain vigilant to prevent actions that threaten our parks.
The mission of the state park system is to preserve and interpret the state's most outstanding natural landscapes and cultural landmarks, and to provide outstanding recreational opportunities compatible with those resources.
Ensuring Missourians understand the need for an adequate and consistent base of financial support for the park system is a key task. In 1984, MPA spearheaded the petition that led to the passage of the Parks, Soils and Water Sales Tax and has worked to get it reapproved by voters in 1988, 1996, 2006, and in 2016 when it passed by 80 percent with a majority in every county in the state!
In addition to park funding, and to ensure an excellent state park system that is relevant for all Missourians, we strive to connect Missourians to the outdoors, with a priority on underserved populations, including urban and rural youth and seniors.
MPA’s Underserved Populations Outreach Program (UPOP) introduces underserved youth to our state parks and historic sites. MPA provides funding to partner organizations in Kansas City, St. Louis, Columbia, and Joplin. New for 2020, MPA received a grant to expand the program to the Ozarks and youth from the Salem area visited Echo Bluff, Montauk, and Current River State Parks. UPOP fieldtrips include activities like fishing, bird watching and bike rides at Katy Trail State Park. The activities are free so that participants can take part in the program regardless of their economic ability.
The “Seniors to State Parks Program” is a partnership between Missouri State Parks and MPA that provides fieldtrips and a tram for seniors to explore state parks and enjoy Missouri’s outdoors and its past. This program was first launched in 2015 and is funded by MPA through a generous endowment received from Ben and Bettie Breeding to be used exclusively for this purpose.
MPA is constantly looking for new ways to enhance the park system for enjoyment by citizens and visitors alike. We always welcome new members and volunteers who care about our state parks and want to help.