“Wherever you go, there will always be a mixture of people destroying, helping and living mutually with the outdoors.” Ryan Barnes, a United States Park Ranger in the Yellowstone national forest, understands that not everyone was raised with the same appreciation and respect for the outdoors as himself. That is why, after three years of applications, he spends his days roving the basin surrounding Old Faithful, educating, protecting and perhaps just conversing, with those who choose to enjoy the national park.
A self-described “modern-day drifter,” Ryan says, in his North Carolina drawl, “I love the outdoors and I love educating people.” The job is an excellent fit. Ryan gives talks to thousands of spectators, gathered before Old Faithful, warning of the dangers of the wilderness, not intending to scare anyone, but rather to inform the urbanites as to the realistic dangers they may face in the wild. Ryan stresses the importance of conservation, as without conservation, there can be no research. Ryan’s advice, to people who would like to follow his path, is that “if you want to do something, do it. There are no excuses.”