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Class Project Helps Grow Tourism in Rural Communities

Iantria (center) with students after presenting the Homegrown Highway project in Fordland

As statistics show a trend toward a more urban market, or people moving to cities, an opportunity arises for rural areas to capitalize on the quaint weekend in the country, according to LinneaIantria, director of the geotourism program at Missouri State University. 

In spring 2015, she and her students created the Homegrown Highway as a throwback to a rural road trip with unique experiences built in that would increase tourism in rural Missouri.

Her practicum students annually develop tourism strategies for communities. When her students were asked to create a strategy for Fordland, they quickly realized that a plan developed around this one town would not improve economic development in the area very much.

She says the idea is to protect the culture and heritage of the area and they have pinpointed 43 different experiences or points of interest in Webster and Wright counties on the map of the Homegrown Highway.

Iantria says her geotourism students need to get this practical experience and so many communities could benefit, so it’s a win-win situation.

If you’re interested in learning more about the project or asking for help in your own community, contact LinneaIantria at

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