Mattie Haynes is the head livestock 
judging coach at Northeast Oklahoma A&M. Contributed Photo.
Mattie Haynes is the head livestock judging coach at Northeast Oklahoma A&M. Contributed Photo.

Mattie Haynes planned to go to law school, but is now a collegiate livestock judging coach

MIAMI, OKLA. – A life-long passion for agriculture, along with a desire to serve others is what led Mattie Haynes into her teaching career.

Mattie who lives in Miami, Okla., is in her second year of teaching at Northeastern A&M College in Miami. 

At NEO, she is the head livestock judging coach and an agriculture instructor, teaching classes such as animal breeding, the freshman year experience and animal science labs. 

She is also pursuing her master’s in animal science from the University of Arkansas, with a goal of graduating in May 2024.

Teaching wasn’t always Mattie’s plan for her future. The 2018 graduate of Jay (Okla.) High School initially planned to attend law school. 

In fact, even after graduating with her bachelor’s degrees in animal science and business from Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Mattie planned to return home and take a year to study for the LSAT (law school admission test). 

A variety of experiences, including a chance to intern in then Sen. Jim Inhofe’s Washington, D.C. office, being part of the livestock teams at both NEO and OSU, her work with the Oklahoma Ag Leadership Encounter, and a vested interest in the NEO ag program as an alumni, began the wheels turning towards her new career.

While at OSU, Mattie worked as the administrative assistant for the ag department, working closely with interim department head Dr. Jerry Fitch. 

Fitch, Mattie adviser’s, also advised the Oklahoma Ag Leadership Encounter. During the group’s trip to D.C., he encouraged Mattie to consider applying for the summer 2022 internship with Inhofe. While enjoyed her time in D.C., learning the ins and outs of the political process, calling it a “once in a lifetime experience,” she wanted to find a way to help students in a positive way. So when the livestock judging coach position at NEO opened up, Mattie was encouraged to pursue the position by multiple people, primarily because of her past experience as a livestock judging competitor. 

In 2019, while attending NEO, Mattie won the junior college national individual championship at the North American Livestock Expo in Louisville, Ky. She returned in 2021, this time as a member of the OSU team, earning the senior national championship by a historic margin. 

She applied and accepted the NEO position while still in D.C. She flew home and started the job the next week.

“It’s the biggest blessing in disguise in life,” Mattie said. “It’s something [teaching] I said I would never do. But I have a heart for education as a whole, especially higher education at the junior college level.”

Mattie said teaching has opened a chance for her to help the next generation of students, saying many just need “someone to believe in them, more so now than ever before.”

Growing up in Ag: Mattie grew up in rural Jay, Okla., with her parents Matt and Jana Haynes and grandparents Jim and Betty Earp.

Her grandfather runs a cow/calf operation, while her father runs a herd of 1,000 stocker calves with friends.

A member of Delaware County 4-H and Jay FFA, Mattie competed locally and regionally. As a livestock competitor, Mattie showed sheep, goats and swine. Among her honors, she won the Ben Netherton Award at the Delaware County Spring Livestock Show four years in a row. The award, which honors the late veterinarian, goes to the overall top performing youth at the livestock show each year 

Life at NEO: A first-generation college student, Mattie said she uses her experience to help her students be successful themselves. She also provides a dose of tough love and support to her “kids,” thanks to the tight-knit nature of the ag department.

“I know my kids on an individual level, know their stories and what makes them tick,” Mattie said. 

As the livestock coach, Mattie has begun recruiting students for her team. Her goal – not only recruiting those who can compete at a national level, but those who will ultimately become good humans and citizens for the world.

“When they leave me, I hope they have a very strong moral compass,” Mattie said. “I hope they know they can accomplish anything they really work for. I want my kids to know how to work when they leave me.”

She also hopes to provide her students with the tools they need to find success and happiness in life.

Beyond teaching, Mattie lives on the school farm. Her team monitors the school’s crop of commercial ewes. This spring was the first time in six years the team lambed sheep on the farm. Many of the lambs were sold to local 4-H or FFA students .

Looking to the future: NEO’s livestock program has a solid legacy. At one point, it was the blueprint other junior colleges used to build their own programs. Mattie dreams of winning a team national championship – something the department last accomplished in the late 1980s.

After finishing her master’s degree, Mattie plans to begin a doctoral program in education. 

“I want to make sure I give back in whatever areas God provides,” Mattie said. “I want to seize this opportunity, use my skill set to the best of my abilities in ways to help others. 

“Personally, I hope to have a family one day, and raise my children in ag.”


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