Since June 24 Jessica Jones has been a part of the Greensville Emporia Extension Office team after spending nearly a dozen years in Brunswick County as a social worker in child protective services. She said the career change may not be quite as dramatic as some may believe.
As the head of the local Family Nutrition Program for Youth, Jones will still be working with children.
She said she will be a little better received than she was at times when she showed up at a residence representing the Department of Social Services.
“I still wanted to help children,” she said. “I still wanted to make a difference. When I saw the mission of the Virginia Cooperative Extension Service is to put knowledge in the hands of people through education, information and tools they could use I realized it was some of the same things I was already doing.”
Jones grew up in Broadnax and graduated from Brunswick High School in 1999. She went on to receive her bachelor of science in social work from Longwood University in 2003. After two years of teaching kindergarten at Totaro Elementary in Brunswick County, Jones moved into the social work field.
Now Jones is more than a month into her new job and is loving every minute of it. She said her own experience will be a help when working with children. Jones decided she needed to lose some weight in February and changed her eating habits and became more active physically. She has dropped more than 30 pounds. When she gives advice to youth, they will know she has been through what they are going through.
“I want children to know it’s the small changes that make a big difference,” she said. “It’s not about perfect. It’s about progress. If you can just be better tomorrow than you were today, that’s progress and that’s a win.”
Jones will work with children in the Greensville County School Division, but she is also available for giving presentations for clubs and organizations, as well as events such as health fairs. She will work some with former head of the Greensville Emporia Family Nutrition Program Tia Powell, who is now working exclusively with adults.
She said some people were surprised when hearing of her career change, but when she described the job and her responsibilities she said it made sense to them and they were happy for her. Jones is also a youth minister at Tabernacle of Zion Church of Lawrenceville, but she now resides in Emporia and will be the face of the Family Nutrition Program in the Greensville Emporia branch of the Virginia Cooperative Extension Service.