McNairy County resident and Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture Jai Templeton (center) is pictured Dec. 5 following his induction into the UT Martin chapter of the Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity. Also pictured (from left) are Marvin Flatt, fraternity adviser and director, Career Technical Education, Weakley County Schools; Dr. Todd Winters, fraternity adviser and dean, UT Martin College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences; Matthew Edmaiston, of Union City, Alpha Gamma Rho chapter president; and Dr. Charley Deal, executive director, WestStar Leadership Program. Templeton is a 1999 WestStar graduate.

Commissioner of Agriculture Jai Templeton inducted into UT Martin Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity

Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture Jai Templeton is proud of his farming and agriculture heritage, and the Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity chapter at the University of Tennessee at Martin has recognized his achievements in a special way. The chapter welcomed Templeton as an AGR member during an induction ceremony Dec. 5 in the Boling University Center. His induction recognizes Templeton’s longtime leadership and involvement in the agriculture community at the local, state and national levels.

The McNairy County resident has served as the state’s 37th commissioner of agriculture since his appointment in May 2016 by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam. He will be succeeded by state veterinarian Dr. Charles Hatcher in January when Bill Lee becomes Tennessee’s 50th governor.

“I have a lot of respect for (the fraternity), not just the chapter here at Martin but across our state,” Templeton said following his induction. “When you think about agriculture, the impact on rural Tennessee and urban Tennessee even, the fraternity Alpha Gamma Rho has meant so much to our state and will continue to do so. I’m just honored that they were happy to have me join tonight.”

Templeton joins other leaders with strong agriculture backgrounds who have been inducted by the UT Martin chapter, including University of Tennessee President Emeritus Joe DiPietro, the late Tennessee Gov. Ned Ray McWherter and the late Tennessee Congressman Ed Jones.

According to the fraternity’s website, discussions to form the UT Martin chapter began in 1959 and eventually led to the installation of the Alpha Upsilon Chapter in April 1963. Today, AGR serves as a professional and social organization for male students pursuing careers in agriculture.

“We as a chapter are honored to have the opportunity to initiate Commissioner Jai Templeton as a brother of Alpha Gamma Rho. … We are appreciative of his service in agriculture to the state of Tennessee,” chapter president Matthew Edmaiston said in a statement. Edmaiston is a senior agriculture business major from Union City.

Templeton began his state service as deputy agriculture commissioner in 2011, previously served as McNairy County mayor and is a sixth-generation farmer producing grain, cotton, hay, cattle and timber in McNairy and Hardin counties. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Union University and is a 1999 graduate of UT Martin’s WestStar Leadership Program. As the state’s commissioner of agriculture, he also is an ex officio, voting member of the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees.

“Commissioner Templeton’s outstanding leadership for agriculture in Tennessee, as well as his involvement in his community and farm background, are recognized by Alpha Gamma Rho by bestowing upon him the highest honor the chapter has – membership in our fraternity,” said Richie Brewer in a separate statement. Brewer, of Pulaski, is AGR Alumni Association president and a 1983 UT Martin agriculture graduate.

For additional information about the fraternity or Templeton’s induction, contact Edmaiston at or call 731-592-1803.