Tristin Bolton’s job as a family consumer science agent with the Crawford County office of the Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service involves spending a lot of time in area schools teaching yoga, nutrition, financial preparedness and how to write a check.
Yes, “how to write a check,” she repeated, because it’s important for younger school students to get a foundation in how to balance a bank account.
Most of the family science instruction has moved online because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
That’s the same reality for the foster children she works within her volunteer time as chair of the Real Education and Development for Youth committee with the Junior League of Fort Smith. The group works to provide monthly life skills classes for those in the foster system. They work with about 35 children a month and also raise money to provide scholarships for foster children pursuing higher education. Shifting that volunteer work online during the pandemic has been important.
“We work with them to show them we’re still here,” she said.
Bolton’s path began in 2011 as an Alma High School graduate. She earned a bachelor’s degree in human and family science in 2014 from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Okla., and would follow that in 2018 with a master’s degree in human environmental sciences from the University of Arkansas.
Her first job was as a wellness coordinator at ArcBest. She also worked as a marketing manager for Baptist Health-Fort Smith. During her days in Tahlequah, Bolton worked for an extension office in Oklahoma and then in an extension office in Muskogee. When the Crawford County job opened up in October 2019, she “jumped on it 100%.”
Part of giving back includes grant writing, which Bolton claims to love. She has secured two grants in just a few short months for the extension service, and one for the Junior League.
“I thoroughly enjoy writing grants and getting the money for those programs.”
She said part of her desire to help others began at Northeastern State. There was a “Be the Change” motto on the university campus.
“It was a big deal to be the change and stand in the gap for others, and I’ve really brought that with me when I moved back here,” Bolton said.