Seattle City (spot)Light: Ryan Simmons

Ryan Simmons joined City Light in 2015 as the fisheries field coordinator for the Boundary Licensing Team and is now a project manager, overseeing several fisheries projects. “My projects are designed to improve conditions for trout and mountain whitefish populations native to the lower Pend Oreille River,” Ryan explained. “We are studying the genetic structure, demographics, and behavior of these populations through field studies and simulation modeling to inform how best to protect and enhance these native fish species. On any given day, I could be focused on project planning, coordination with our Boundary fisheries biologists, data analysis, contract administration, or communication with stakeholders.”

Ryan was born and raised in Olympia and has spent most of his adult life working in the streams and forests of the Northwest. He attended Western Washington University and pursued his graduate studies at the University of Washington’s School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences. “During grad school, I spent summers at a remote field station on the Alaska Peninsula studying the early life history and ecology of sockeye salmon,” Ryan shared. “I remember most vividly the rough weather, the rewarding work, the bear encounters and the isolation.”

In this week’s (spot)Light, Ryan talks about his hobbies, family and work at City Light.


“I live on Vashon Island with my wife and four kids. The island offers a great network of trails and natural areas to explore, and we try to spend as much time as we can discovering new areas. The beaches are also a highlight, whether for a summer picnic or a good winter storm. We enjoy growing food and flowers and have gotten to know some great families with whom we have built community.”

“I’m an avid skier, sailor, and enjoy most water sports! My time is devoted to my family… getting the kids outside and interested in the natural world and the sciences. I also enjoy woodworking and building furniture, an interest I picked up from my dad. During this time of year, I like to pick apples and press cider with family and friends. We try to pick 20-30 bushels which yields about 50-60 gallons of cider. A friend and I ferment hard cider; several of our hard ciders have placed or won in regional competitions.”

“I was attracted to City Light because of its longstanding work in some very unique watersheds, and the opportunity to devote a career to working in those systems. As a consultant, it was common to move from project to project on a regular basis. At City Light, I’ve been able to build a deeper understanding of the stream systems I work on and the positive impact of my work.”

“I enjoy what I do at City Light; it’s challenging and diverse. I continually apply my past work experience and education while learning new things along the way. Part of my job satisfaction comes from knowing the work is valued by City Light. We also have the support to investigate novel approaches to better meet project objectives. The greatest part of my job is the people I work with, who come from a diverse range of technical disciplines which has helped me better understand the utility. I feel fortunate to work with a dedicated team who genuinely believes in the work they do.”