A Humble Servant
Monday, January 9, 2023
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Home to hundreds of species of wildlife and picturesque scenes of the prairie, the historic Osage Nation is nestled between the rolling hills and grassy plains of northeastern Oklahoma.
However, more than wildlife call the bluestem-covered plains home.
Jann Hayman, Osage Nation secretary of natural resources and a native of Skiatook, Oklahoma, has spent the majority of her life in the heart of the Osage Nation.
“I grew up involved in agriculture,” Hayman said. “Showing calves and being involved in FFA, I saw how important those relationships in the agricultural industry were.”
Now a two-time Oklahoma State University Ferguson College of Agriculture alumna, Hayman intended to become a veterinarian when she first began attending OSU in 2001.
However, she realized she had a passion for people and building relationships but felt she lacked inleadership-based areas such as public speaking.
With this realization came a desire to step out of her comfort zone to include those skills.
Her leadership experiences then led her to pursue a bachelor’s degree in agricultural education.
After completing her bachelor’s degree with an agricultural leadership option in 2005, Hayman obtained her Master of Agriculture degree from OSU in 2007 and a doctorate in educational leadership in 2021 from Kansas State University.
“I actually felt like my path was going to be in Extension,” Hayman said.
As an undergraduate at OSU, Hayman worked as an intern at the OSU Extension office in Osage County, which she said helped her develop a strong foundation with the work being done in OSU Extension.
Knowing she wanted to return to her home upon graduation, Hayman searched for OSU Extension positions near the area. Neither Osage nor the surrounding counties were hiring for any positions in their OSU Extension offices, so Hayman began looking for other opportunities, she said.
Her original position as the natural resources specialist of the Osage Nation was one she never saw coming.
“The position just kind of fell into my lap,” Hayman said. “I didn’t even know at the time the Osage Nation had a natural resources program. I just happened to come across the job.”
When Hayman was hired in 2006, the position of natural resources specialist was relatively new to the program. This allowed her an opportunity to tailor the position to what she believed it could be, she said.
“When I started working with the Osage Nation, I felt like that was the tribal version of OSU Extension,” Hayman said.“I was doing the same things I had prepared to do with OSU Extension, just on the tribal side.”
Using her experiences and her leadership training, she worked to become a resource for Osage landowners. She served as a contact within the tribe to connect them to programs such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency and Natural Resources Conservation Service, Hayman said.
“Jann is just so passionate about providing resources to our community members,” said Harleigh Moore, Osage Nation food sovereignty coordinator.
According to her employees, Hayman’s passion for leadership and helping others does not end there.
“She’s just incredible,” Moore said. With the help of her work ethic, her role in her “unexpected” position began to grow, she said.
In 2012, she was promoted to director of the Department of Natural Resources, where she worked on initiatives benefiting even more Osage tribal members. In her role as director, Hayman helped facilitate all the food sovereignty programs the Osage Nation has now.
These programs include Harvest Land, a working farm containing a greenhouse, aquaponics system and food processing area in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, and Butcher House Meats, a meat processing facility located in Hominy, Oklahoma, which Hayman helped open.
“Jann truly cares about the work we’re doing,” said Ronald Gilley, assistant director of Butcher House Meats. “She’s one of the greatest leaders I’ve ever known. She’s such a hard worker and always leads by example.”
The initial idea for these facilities came in 2020 when food production and meat processing plants across the U.S. shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic, Hayman said.
“Nobody could get their meat processed,” Hayman said. “There were all these breakdowns in the food system.”
The Osage Nation owns approximately 43,000 acres where it raises cattle and bison.
However, during the pandemic, even though the nation had the livestock, meat processing was unavailable.
This led to issues within the Osage Nation’s elder and childcare nutrition programs. With no meat being processed, none was available for those programs, Hayman said.
Hayman said her team needed to create a solution to this issue.
“I had a conversation with our chief about the issue,” Hayman said. “He agreed with me. We needed to do something. We had the animals, but we couldn’t get the meat to our people. We needed to fill that void. That’s what really started the meat facility.”
The tribe’s solution was Butcher House Meats, a 19,000-square-foot state and federally inspected facility capable of custom processing for both cattle and bison.
Open to Osage tribal members and the general public, the facility also houses a storefront and processes an average of 30,000 pounds of meat each month, Gilley said.
“I knew that project was probably going to be one of the most challenging things I’d ever done — and might ever do — in my career,” Hayman said.
With such a passion for her work and a desire to help those around her, Hayman is not one to shy away from a challenge.
“It has been challenging, but it’s also been incredibly rewarding,” Hayman continued. “We’re providing food for ourpeople.”
Story By: Aubrey Layton | Cowboy Journal