Jan Gray Walton An Inspiration to Many

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By Aimee Robinette

There is nothing Grenada Extension Agent III Jan Gray Walton appreciates more than educating others to improve their quality of life. Whether it is helping a high school 4-H Club member select the right field of study for college or empowering a woman to take control of her personal finances, Walton finds her joy in service to others.

Walton is a jack of all trades. Before joining the Mississippi State Extension Service, she was a real estate agent with rental property, owned a business inside the historic post office in Grenada, and was a mustang director with Beauti Control Cosmetics. She also has a passion for volunteerism, which is what led to her current position.

“I was volunteering at the school with fifth grade girls, and made the comment that I would love a job where I could mentor youth all of the time,” she says.

“Someone overheard my comment and asked me to apply for the 4-H Agent position in Grenada with MSU Extension. I applied, interviewed, and was offered the position.”

Walton, who holds a bachelor of science in elementary education and a master of science in ag and extension education from MSU, never
looked back.

There are many checks in the plus column when Walton considers
her position.

“I enjoy interacting with the people of Grenada County, listening to their concerns, and working with clientele, as well as, our extension volunteers. I have been working as an Extension Agent since 2007. It is always rewarding to see the impact of our programs. The most rewarding is when your former 4-H youth enroll in FCS programs and enroll their children in 4-H,” she says. “This week alone, I was asked to be a college scholarship validator in which I read an essay that explains the personal growth
and knowledge that a young person has absorbed and retained since the seventh grade through 4-H, MyPI, and our community garden.  It just warms your heart when you know that your 4-H youth really were grasping all of the information that 4-H provided and they are so prepared to tackle the next step in life.”

Walton says seeing a former 4-H youth be the first generation in their family to attend and graduate from college and have multiple job offers is another feather in the extension cap.

“Then, they call for all kinds of advice from preparing meals to purchasing their first home,” she adds, which gives her the chance to see how they
are doing.

It’s not only area youth that are impacted by the local extension service. Adults also find it to be a resource for a number of activities and life skills.

“I love when an older lady with prior health issues hugs my neck at the voting polls because she has lost a total of 150 pounds because of your ‘Get Fit’ Walk-A-Weigh program over a lengthy period of time. She was so excited to be so much healthier,” Walton says. “Another happy moment was when a lady introduced me to her husband in the grocery store and he thanked me for helping his wife learn how to make a monthly budget. Because of our financial classes, their credit score had improved and they were now qualified to
buy a home.”

Walton also finds happiness within her organization.

“My experience through Mississippi State University Extension is we all respect the chosen fields that someone is an expert. For example, I do not have a swine program in Grenada County, but I know who has experience in that particular field,” she says.
“I do have the advantage that I was reared on a farm, so I am familiar with many aspects of the farm, such as gardens, crops, and livestock.  Also, for the first nine years after graduating from Mississippi State University, I was an employee with the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service in which had worked closely with all of the farmers and agriculture experts in our county.”