Ryan Means talks with us about his job and what service means to him
After leaving the badlands, we drove down into Nebraska. Driving into an area that leaves you feeling like you are on the edge of the world even though you are nestled into the center of the country. We left the smooth paved road for a 45 minute bumpy, curvy, dirt road that lead us to a hot empty parking area. The sign in the parking long said we had arrived at the Hudson-Meng Education and Research Center. We had our doubts that anyone was there, feeling like the last people on earth. But a short pretty walk led us to the intensely air-conditioned site building where there were surprisingly multiple forest service staff, all buzzing around leading tours, logging data and eagerly sharing the wealth of information this site has to offer. We quickly met Ryan Means, the site manager and he dove right into educating us about the fossils, geology, history and preservation work that has taken place on this site.
The beauty of archeology is that while scientists are able to piece together and collect answers from dig sites there is still a lot left unknown, which is where your imagination is allowed to roam. Ryan did a good job of encouraging us to actively think and imagine the history of the bison bone head site. Engaging us in a conversation on the tour, he left us feeling ignited instead of drained from being lectured at. The same goes for when he is talking about his background and how he got to where he is today. As he explained what he studied in college, his experience in politics, working for the national park service and ultimately the Forest Service, as he told us his life story, the connecting factor was his passion to give back to his community.
“As a Deaf person I can’t join the military, so working for the Forest Service is how I serve my country.” -Ryan Means