Jai Templeton oversees day-to-day operations, directing programs and services ranging from food safety, animal and plant health, pesticides and consumer protection to forestry and agricultural development. Prior to joining the department in June 2011, he served as mayor of McNairy County, leading that county's successful efforts to reduce debt and increase fund balances without raising taxes during the economic recession. He is a sixth generation farmer producing grain, cotton, hay, timber and cattle.
As county mayor, Templeton also served on the UT Martin-McNairy County Center Advisory Board, the West Tennessee Railroad Authority, the West Tennessee River Basin Authority, the Southwest Tennessee Development District Executive Board and the Southwest Tennessee Human Resources Agency Board.
He is a former county commissioner and former president of the McNairy County Chamber of Commerce, where he helped form the McNairy County Regional Alliance to focus on economic development in the area.
From 1995 to 2003, he served as a field representative for former U.S. Representative Ed Bryant, covering the rural portion of Tennessee’s Seventh Congressional District. He also served as a delegate to the 2004 Republican National Convention.
He has a bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Union University in Jackson, Tenn., and he is a graduate of Weststar, Leadership McNairy County and AgStar professional development programs. He is a graduate of the Nashville Auction School and a 2012 graduate of Tennessee Government Executive Institute.
He is a member of the McNairy-Chester County Cattlemen's Association, the McNairy County Forestry Landowner's Association, the Tennessee Farm Bureau, the Mid-South Farmer's Co-op, the Stantonville Community Club, the National Cattleman's Beef Association, the AgriCenter International's Board of Directors, and a former board member of the Tennessee Cattlemen's Association.
He and his wife, Allison, and their children, Mycaela, Canon and Eliza Smith, reside on a family farm in Stantonville, Tenn.