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Max Now

In Their Own Words: Alumni Updates – Max Devane

Post Series: In Their Own Words -- Alumni Updates

Feel inspired by our engaged alumni and learn how significant bus Resource Experiences still impact them years after the fact!

Max DeVane — “Bus Max” Pursuing Passions Playfully!

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I was a graduate student on the bus and loved and missed bus life so much I felt the need to return, and later served as faculty for five years! Had I not been in love with someone anxious to put down roots, the bus may not have been able to shake me.

I currently work as a biologist for an environmental consulting firm in New Jersey as a Project Manager. I love my job, especially when I am outside delineating wetlands and performing habitat assessments and threatened and endangered species surveys. The mundane aspect of my job is writing reports and permit applications, and the challenging part is ensuring that environmental policies are properly complied with as the mediator between regulators and the regulated community.

Many memories flood my mind when I think of my time on the bus. Some of the more memorable resource people we met with were those that surprised me by changing my preconceived notions; when anticipated conflict instead fostered compassion. As an example, in the Central Valley of California, we were investigating agriculture and met with an organic farm operation one day and a conventional grower the next. I was seriously touched by the conventional farmers who, although they were not following “sustainable” farming practices in a way that would allow them to earn the organic designation, were more connected to the land and their community than the outfit that sported the organic label. Another lasting lesson came after a long day hiking in clearcut forests in the mountain west with an activist doing his best to protect forest habitat. After a long day learning of many defeats and unsuccessful efforts, his energy and vitality for fighting the good fight never waned. When asked, “How do you maintain such a positive attitude and sustain yourself through it all?” he thought momentarily and replied, “I just read some geology.” I learned not to take myself too seriously regardless of how important my beliefs are to me, all the while pursuing my passions vigorously.

Birdwatching on the bus with Max!

Backcountry experiences are another component of the bus experience that I have incorporated into my life. In fact, most years my family spends a week in the backcountry with friends made on the bus and their family. I am passionate about backpacking, birds, native plants, and trying to be a successful father to my son and husband to my wife. On the occasions when I let the rat race get the best of me and am not the best father or husband, when I am less than compassionate, my wife Emily longs for “bus Max” or peacefully suggests that I spend a semester back on the bus. Lessons learned on the bus help me to be a better employee by communicating successfully with clients and regulators while navigating compliance with environmental rules and policies. More importantly, the skills I gained living closely with others on the bus helped me be a successful parent to my son and a companion to my wife. The bus also helped make me aware that there is something special about all places and exposed me to a long list of places I hope to revisit in my time on this planet, literal and metaphorical.

Max was a Graduate student from 1989-1991 and served as Faculty from 1995-2000.