wanting to feature her in my article Jackson County Proud! After a brief “catching up” conversation and a few laughs about the struggles of being a busy mom and needing more exercise, I told her I wanted to do the article. She was reluctant to say yes until I explained that I wanted the article to be about the family. Her reluctance was understandable. Jennifer’s professional accomplishments are extraordinary, but the James’ are a great part of what makes Jackson County a wonderful place to live.
Greg and Jennifer are both Newport High School graduates and were friends for years before becoming a couple. The couple began dating when home from college Christmas break of 1992. They were set up by a mutual friend on a date for dinner and a movie in Jonesboro. The couple never looked back and married on March 4, 1995. Greg is a graduate of the University of Arkansas in Little Rock with a Bachelor Degree in Political Science and Jennifer graduated from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville with a degree in Agricultural Business. The couple have a son, Dylan. He is a recent graduate of Harding Academy High School and plans to attend Arkansas State University this fall to pursue a degree in Agriculture. Dylan shares the love of Jackson County and farming with his parents and wants to return home and farm with the family.
Greg and Jennifer share a passion for agriculture. The couple work together every day running their farm, as well as manage the family grain warehouse. Jennifer works closely with local farmers to grow, clean and ship a specialty non-GMO soybean to the Japanese market for natto. “I am fortunate to take a yearly business trip to Japan where I meet with buyers and food processors that buy the soybeans,” states Jennifer. “Japan has a very interesting culture and I enjoy the food! It is a long way away from my family, so I can honestly say that the best part of the trip is returning home safely.”
When asked about what they love about Newport and Jackson County, it was met with a quick response. “We love the outdoors! Our favorite time of year is duck season. Over the years we have developed a network of great friends that come to Jackson County to hunt during waterfowl season,” states Greg. Jennifer adds, “It is a time of fellowship and celebration. We are usually just finishing up with crop harvest and it is great to take time to be with friends and family and relax a little.”
The couple were born and raised in Jackson County. The couple’s families are long-time residents and the family live in Jennifer’s great grandparents’ house built in 1939. Dylan is blessed to have all of his grandparents, aunts and uncles living in Jackson County. “It is fun to go to Wal-Mart on Saturday or out to eat at a local restaurant and run into friends and neighbors.” states Jennifer. The family are members of the First Presbyterian Church in Newport.
Although the couple work a lot of hours and feel consumed by farming even when home for the evening, they love duck hunting and going to White River. Those are two of their favorite things. In addition, the family loves to snow ski and try to make a trip to Vail each spring. “Greg and I hope to one day be able to do quite a bit of traveling,” states Jennifer. “There are many places in the country and around the world we want to see.”
When I asked about a cause or organization that they are passionate about, Jennifer became a little more serious and businesslike in response and explains, “I am passionate about educating consumers about the importance of agriculture. The importance of agriculture is easily noticeable in Jackson County, because it is the economic base. But, many consumers today are far removed from the farm and agriculture, with no realization the work and care put into the production of crops.” She adds, “I like to share about the conservation practices farmers are doing on the farm to help conserve water, protect the air and the soil,” states Jennifer. “Greg is passionate about building our farm’s habitat, not only for hunting but for rest areas and feeding areas for waterfowl and all kinds of animals. There is great satisfaction in growing a crop to feed the people of the world and then see so many birds and animals using the same areas for their home.”
Jackson County is blessed to have members making an impact on the world in ways we take for granted. My husband often tells his students at graduation to go into the world and do great things. Jackson County has many that are doing just that, including Greg and Jennifer James.