Eleven years ago, Jan Golian’s husband dropped dead of a heart attack in the middle of harvest season.

He had made all of the decisions for their grain and livestock farm during their 30 years of marriage. She was a school librarian.

Golian began farm ownership as a widow with little knowledge. University of Missouri Extension came to her rescue.

Now-retired livestock specialist Al Kennett reached out to her. She took a course for women producers called Annie’s Project.

“It was eye-opening,” she says. Golian holds a master’s degree from MU, but she quickly found out she had much to learn about owning a farm.

There were leases, fences, estate laws and other topics to learn in the months and years following her husband’s death.

A decade later, MU Extension continues to help her navigate life as a landowner.

“I’m my own woman now,” she says. “I’m my own boss.”

Kennett and others helped her make financial decisions through numerous classes and one-on-one meetings. “The best minds in the state of Missouri are there for us to use,” she says with gratitude.

MU Extension specialist Karisha Devlin helped her fine-tune a lease to protect her financial interests. Extension guidelines help new landowners and tenants enter into leases that are fair and equitable to both sides.

“This is my business. This is my income,” she says. “I have to look out for my best interest. It empowers me to find the information I need. MU Extension offers experts who are objective and that I can trust.”

She recommends classes to others who became landowners but don’t have an agriculture background. Originally billed as “Lady Landowner” classes, they have have helped some of her male relatives who inherited farmland.

Over the years, Golian has returned to MU Extension for knowledge to enrich her life through programs such as Master Gardeners. The Groovy Gardeners of Ralls County gave her knowledge to build fruit and vegetable and flower gardens. Just as importantly, the club provides a social outlet.

Golian’s children were involved in Missouri 4-H, an extension program, so she was familiar with extension. She wants to spread the word about the variety of programs that improve the quality of life of Missourians. She is serving her fourth term as chair of the Ralls County Extension Council.

“She has helped extension help others in the county and she has experienced firsthand what extension can do to improve lives,” says James Meyer, county program director in Ralls County.

“I just can’t give extension enough praise,” Golian says. “Because of the help I received from MU Extension I can stay here on the farm.”