Joplin, Missouri is the home to the area's major hospitals including Freeman West, Freeman East, and St. John's. Joplin, Missouri also has a fine park system that includes a golf course, three swimming pools, walking trails, the world's largest Chert Glades, and Missouri's only continuously flowing waterfall, Grand Falls, on Shoal Creek just south of town. Included in Schifferdecker Park is the Everett J. Ritchie Tri-State Mineral Museum and Dorothea B. Hoover Historical Museum.
Numerous buildings still exist in Joplin, Missouri that are on the National Register of Historic Places. Recently, Joplin, Missouri has undertaken a project to revitalize its Main Street downtown district. Joplin, Missouri has refurbished its sidewalks and added new lamp posts. Joplin, Missouri remains a regional economic powerhouse, with numerous trucking lines such as CFI headquartered in town, as it is situated strategically near the geographic and population centers of the nation. Eagle-Picher Industries and F.A.G. Bearings are noted employers in Joplin, and Leggett & Platt (Fortune 500) is located in nearby Carthage.
Lincoln University in Jefferson City is one of a number of historically black colleges and universities. Founded in 1866, it was created by members of the 62nd and 65th United States Colored Infantry as "Lincoln Institute", to provide education to freedmen. It was created on a model of combining academics and labor. In 1921, the state officially recognized the growth of Lincoln's undergraduate and graduate programs by classifying it as a university. The institution changed its name to "Lincoln University of Missouri." In 1954, the university began to accept applicants of all races.
To develop new teachers for needed public schools, in 1905 the state established a series of normal schools at colleges in each region of the state. This was based on the widely admired German model of public education. Normal schools were for the training of teachers of students in primary/elementary schools. The initial network consisted of Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, Missouri State University (formerly Southwest Missouri State University) in Springfield, Truman State University (formerly Northeast Missouri State University) in Kirksville, Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, and University of Central Missouri (formerly Central Missouri State University) in Warrensburg. Within several years, the normal school curriculum expanded to a full four years of academic subjects.
There are numerous junior colleges, trade schools, church universities and private universities in the state.
The state also funds a $2000, renewable merit-based scholarship, Bright Flight, given to the top 3 percent of Missouri High School graduates who attend a university in-state.
The 19th c. border wars between Missouri and Kansas have continued as a sports rivalry between the University of Missouri - Columbia and University of Kansas. The rivalry is chiefly expressed through football games between the two colleges. It is the oldest college rivalry west of the Mississippi River and the second oldest in the nation. Each year when the universities meet to play, the game is coined "Border Showdown." An exchange occurs following the game where the winner gets to take a historic marching band drum, which has been passed back and forth for decades.
Joplin is home to thirteen public elementary schools in the Joplin R-VIII School District: Cecil Floyd, Columbia, Duenweg, Duqeusne, Eastmorland, Emerson, Irving, Jefferson, Kelsey Norman, McKinley, Royal Heights, Stapleton, and West Central. It has three public middle schools--Memorial, North, and South--and one high school, Joplin High School. A school bond issue for $57.3 million was passed in April of 2007, allowing the district to build two new middle schools to replace Memorial and South Middle Schools, and to renovate North.