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The Oka’ Institute recently named Amy Hays as its new Assistant Director of Development and Outreach. Housed in Fentem Hall at East Central University, the Oka’ Institute’s mission is to address water resource needs through sustainable water resource management strategies.

Hays’ new role will help the Oka’ Institute’s mission by building strategies, creating development plans, and building organizational capacity in programming for the direct benefit of growing Oka’s capacity to lead land stewardship solutions centered around excellence in water systems management.

 “The Oka’ Institute is pleased Amy will be contributing her vast expertise as we grow, we are thrilled to have her on our team,” said Oka’ Institute Executive Director Duane Smith.

Hays has more than 28 years of experience in natural resource conservation and management and has previously worked with the Oka’ Institute. She served on the Advisory Council representing the Noble Research Institute. Her previous involvement helps to further the Oka’ Institute’s mission.

Hays received her Master’s in Rangeland Ecology in Management from Texas A&M University in 2000. Since then, she has published many articles and has been a key player in multiple natural resource and educational projects.

The Oka’ Institute was established in 2016 with the strategic goals being economic development, research and data collection, information/education, and policy development. The Ada area was the prime choice for the institute as the City of Ada has a rich history of water research and development, such as the Robert S. Kerr Environmental Research Center; the Chickasaw Nation as a leader in water resource management; the location of the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer; and the Master in Water Resource Policy and Management degree offered at ECU.

For more information about the Oka’ Institute, visit

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