My name is Ryan McCourtney. I was born in St. Louis, MO but lived my whole life in Potosi, MO. I spent most of my time outdoors playing sports and riding motorcycles/four-wheelers. I went in to the Air Force about a year after high school. I was a member of the 820th RED HORSE Squadron stationed at Nellis AFB in Las Vegas, NV for 6 years as a combat engineer. I spent 2 and a half years there instructing asphalt and concrete batch plant operations. I deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kuwait. After spending so much time in a desert I decided that life wasn’t for me being from an area so different. I needed trees, lakes, and streams. I missed seeing the farms and livestock. I was a late entry in to this program and I probably wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Lisa Essmeyer and Bill Andersen. They sought me out . I am truly thankful to them and MAI for expanding the program to Missouri. I met with Bill and he explained the duties of a Recreation Technician and it sounded like a perfect fit for me. You mean I get to do what I enjoy and possibly make a career out of it? Sign me up! I love where I’m from and I feel like who could possibly care more about the Mark Twain National Forest than someone who grew up there and spent tons of time there? This forest is a part of me and my childhood and I want it to be a part of my kids life and the lives of others. I feel like people are disconnected from their own families and camping or hiking could bring people closer together. During my internship I will be maintaining rec facilities, coordinating volunteers, and educating youth. I just hope that I can make an impact on the people that use these lands and spark the interest of people looking for recreation opportunities. I would also hope that this could end up providing me with my forever career.