After graduating from Bosque School in 2012, Will Ribbans attended Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida, on the Gulf Coast. “My intentions at the time were to major in Environmental Studies and Eckerd had a great program.” Will added, “I was greatly influenced to do natural sciences by my studies at Bosque.” Although he confessed that he “wasn’t always the most attentive or productive student in high school,” he always felt focused and intrigued by the outdoors and his science classes. Will shared, “Biology, BEMP, and Wildlife Conservation classes at Bosque were really what helped me narrow down what I would study in college.” He found that Eckerd College’s philosophy about education greatly aligned with his values. The school’s motto is, “Think Outside.” While attending college, he filled his schedule with classes that dealt with topics like earth science, ecology, evolution, environment in American thought, and sustainability in cities. In his free time, he was a part of Eckerd College’s student government and studied music.
After graduating from a coastal school, Will missed the mountains and his family and found his way back home to the Albuquerque desert, where he joined an AmeriCorps funded work program at Valle De Oro Urban Wildlife Refuge called Rocky Mountain Youth Corps. In the program, he collaborated with public land agencies to do conservation work, while also focusing on positive youth development. “I was a Corps member for two seasons before I was asked to be a supervisor,” Will shared. “Over five seasons, I worked on many different New Mexico public lands doing a variety of hands-on trail work, environmental education, and community outreach.” While working in the program, Will demonstrated a substantial growth both in professional and personal development. He said that this experience was “a great fresh-out-of-college work program” for him. He was able to do what he enjoyed and also engage in meaningful work in his community.
After his time with Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, Will served as a Wilderness Ranger in the Cibola National Forest. In his position, he partnered with a local nonprofit advocacy group, New Mexico Wild, and the Forest Service to complete Wilderness Stewardship Management work that involved data collection, volunteer engagement, and hands-on stewardship projects. “Basically, I got to backpack around the wilderness for a summer,” said Will. Since this was a seasonal position, in the colder season, Will also worked at a coffee shop and started teaching guitar and piano. When the season changed again, his position at New Mexico Wild changed with it. He is currently the Wilderness Stewardship and Outreach Manager. There are two major aspects involved in his position. The first is managing the wilderness ranger program, which requires working in eleven wilderness areas across four national forests doing stewardship work. The second aspect is community outreach about our wilderness and public land protection campaigns through volunteer service projects, public outreach, and partnership building.
Although work is what currently occupies most of his time, he makes the most of his weekends by exploring the many natural wonders New Mexico has to offer with his “incredible” girlfriend and their two dogs. When he has time to spare, he also enjoys producing and performing music at local venues and events through his musical project “TrillBot.” Will still volunteers with the Wildlife Refuge when he can. This past weekend, Will was able to combine his passions by volunteering to play music at the Wildlife Refuge’s Golden Gala benefit event.