Our beloved colleague and friend, Ryan Jones, died on July 19th in a tragic motorcycle accident. All of us in the Golden Gate National Parks “family” – as well as his own family and friends throughout our region and country – are overwhelmed by shock and grief at the loss of this fine young man: a person who brought inspiration, joy and friendship to his colleagues, his friends, and young people throughout our parks community. Ryan always radiated enthusiasm and happiness – and that is how we will remember him.
Ryan came to our national parks almost 16 years ago as a high school student. He was welcomed at the Presidio Park Stewardship Program. After a year as an intern, Ryan joined the National Park Service ranger ranks as a biological science technician where he led and inspired hundreds of high school students – connecting them to the parks. Since then, Ryan has epitomized all the Parks Conservancy stands for: dedication to the parks; love of the outdoors and natural resources; affection for and teamwork with his colleagues; leadership of young people and volunteers; pursuit of the "ladder of learning"; innovation and creativity; and diversity and outreach to new audiences. Ryan blossomed at the Parks Conservancy, moving from high school to college, and then completing his degree. His example inspired his colleagues and gave us the confidence to establish new programs such as I-YEL and LINC. His last job at the Conservancy, as volunteer and education coordinator of the Site Stewardship Program, took advantage of Ryan's many talents and deep experience.
Of course, Ryan's professional talents were matched by his amazing personal character. Ryan always brought a positive mood to his life and work. His capacity to bring joy to his colleagues, to team members, and to young people was breathtaking. His smile was infectious and his happiness irresistible. And all that joy found its place in his beautiful illustrations of the park he loved. His amazing gift to explore, capture and exude the beauty of life was uniquely his.
There is so much more we will continue to say about Ryan over the coming days, week, months and years. His positive impact will be a timeless one. And we will all handle our grief and celebration of his life one step at a time.
At times like these, we are reminded of the specialness of life, the true meaning of friendship, and that our work within these national parks binds us together not just as colleagues, but as soul mates and friends on life's pathway. We can be deeply honored that Ryan joined that pathway with us and that together we found joy and fulfillment in each other's company. We take great comfort in the fact that Ryan died as a happy and fulfilled person and that the Conservancy had given him so much – as he gave back to us multifold.
With sincere friendship and compassion for all Ryan’s family, colleagues and friends,
Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy
Click here to visit an online gallery of photos of Ryan.