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The McClanahan family has been entwined with the University of Tennessee System since 1946.
Now the family’s pride in UT is on display for the estimated 35,627 travelers to see who drive past their Crossville farm on Interstate 40.
From higher education to 4-H skills to farm help and continuing education credits, UT has been a part of the family’s lives. It’s natural for them to want to show their UT pride with the 15th mural in the campaign, which was completed in May 2021.
The farm came into the family when Claude and Bernice Little bought 65 acres in Cumberland County in 1948. Claude earned his master’s degree from UT Knoxville in 1947 before returning to teach agriculture and serving as a Future Farmers of America (FFA) advisor for 42 years. Bernice taught elementary school while the couple also raised their family and ran the farm with registered polled Hereford cattle. Now, their daughter Nancy and her husband Janson still raise polled Hereford cattle and have called on UT agronomists and UT veterinary school experts as needed.
“UT is an integral part of the entire state of Tennessee, especially with agriculture as the state’s biggest industry,” Janson said.
Growing up, Nancy listened to her father’s stories of life on the UT Knoxville campus, including taking classes with some of UT’s greatest-of-all-time football players, who were coached by Gen. Robert Neyland.
Janson grew up attending UT’s football games, traveling on winding, two-lane roads from Carthage, Tennessee, to Knoxville along with many other fans decked out in orange and white in the bumper-to-bumper traffic. Also, as a pharmacist in Crossville, he has taken 30 hours of continuing education classes through the UT Health Science Center every two years since 1979.
Nancy and Janson’s sons, Matthew and Colton, grew up attending football games—and even one memorable basketball game when Colton lost his first tooth biting into a UT hot dog. The boys participated in 4-H cattle judging competitions coached by a UT extension agent. Both of their teams won state 4-H judging competitions.
Matthew and his wife, Lauren, graduated from UT College of Law in 2018 and 2019, respectively, and practice law. Lauren also graduated from UT Martin in 2016. Lauren’s sister, Emily Hughes, graduated from UT Chattanooga.
“UT is so important and special because it transcends so many different areas of my life, both personal and professional,” Matthew said. “I met my wife at the University of Tennessee College of Law. That’s where we met, in income tax class in law school—where all great romances start.”
He also attributes learning the art of public speaking to his time in 4-H—and that’s a skill he continues to use as a lawyer.
Colton is a financial officer for Farm Credit Mid-America. His wife, Rachel, graduated from UT Martin in 2016 with her bachelor’s degree and from UT Knoxville in 2018 with her master’s degree. She is an agriculture teacher and FFA advisor at Oakland High School.
When the Crossville mayor approached the family about using the farm’s barn for a mural, they quickly agreed.
“I thought it would be a great idea,” Janson said.
Colton, who was familiar with UT’s second mural on a grain bin in Sharon, said he was excited to be a part of UT’s mural project.
Matthew said, “I’m glad to showcase the Big Orange on our farm.”
For the family knows just how UT has been entwined in its past, present and future, and so it also has been with the state of Tennessee.
“The state wouldn’t be where it is today without UT,” Colton said.
Matthew said UT graduates can be found across the state in agriculture, business, courtrooms, government offices and classrooms.
“UT’s a national brand,” he said. “The alumni showcase the true reach of the university.”
What UT provides, Nancy said, is opportunity.
“It opens so many doors and enriches so many people’s lives,” she said.
2076 Old Jamestown Highway
Crossville, TN 38555
(Barn located between
I-40 Exits 317 & 318)
Curtis Glover has been running his mural business for over six years. Based in Knoxville, he is known for his large-scale, highly detailed work covering a multitude of walls in and around the city.
His style and content vary to suit the needs of his clients. As a commercial artist, he’s been hired by all types of businesses in the past that are looking to make a bold statement on their storefronts.
He mainly works with acrylics and spray cans while adding multiple layers to provide depth in his work—which can be seen from Tennessee to Costa Rica.