Making Friends:

Ryan Hughes of Watkinsville, GA

By Vivian Paulsen

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    Ryan Hughes (10) has a friend who lives in his front yard. He’s not an ordinary friend, of course. He has four legs, a long tail, and he moves so fast that Ryan hasn’t been able to catch him … yet.

    Ryan loves animals, almost any kind. And, in case you’re wondering, that’s what his front-yard friend is—an animal, a lizard to be exact. Lizards are a real favorite at the moment, but turtles come in a close second. Or kangaroos, or fish (to catch or to study), or rabbits.

    He and his family—Dad, Robert; Mom, Leah; Tanya (16); Joshua (14); and Kayla (8)—used to live in Texas, and that’s where Ryan came to know lizards. His favorite spot there was a field where there were scores of them. When the family moved, Ryan was glad to find out that Georgia has a fair amount of lizards also. On a recent TV news program, Ryan learned of a boy who has trained a lizard to jump through hoops. Ryan has big plans for the reptile in his front yard!

    Lots of the things Ryan likes to do have something to do with animals. His dad is a builder, and he and Ryan have worked together on a birdhouse, a critter cage, and a fishing pole. He uses his fishing pole on a regular basis in the stream across the street from his home. He has also built a skateboard and an aquarium.

    When he was asked once where he would like to go if he could go anywhere in the world, Ryan’s answer was Asia. He had seen a show at school about a young boy who worked underwater, photographing and studying sea life in Japan, and that had great appeal. When he grows up, Ryan thinks he may own a pet store or work at an animal preserve or sea-life park—after he serves a mission.

    Ryan’s dad is a Cub Scout leader, and he also helps out with the Boy Scouts in the ward. Ryan accompanies him on some of the campouts and activities that he might otherwise have to wait a few years to participate in. After Hurricane Hugo struck near Charleston, South Carolina, the Scouts from the Hugheses’ ward decided to see if there was anything they could do to help. Brother and Sister Hughes, Joshua, and Ryan went with the Scouts, and Ryan learned a great deal about people serving one another.

    When he’s not catching lizards or being involved in Scouting or building, Ryan likes to jump on his trampoline, ride his bike, or read. He’s even written and illustrated a couple of books. His teacher at school once displayed one of Ryan’s books for the whole district because she thought it was so well done. What was the book about? Alligators.

    Photos by Janet Thomas

    1. Ryan often roams the wooded areas near his home.

    2. The Hughes family (l to r): Joshua, Dad, Kayla, Mom, Ryan, and Tanya

    3. Give Ryan and Dad some wood, a few nails, and a hammer, and they’ll come up with something.

    4. One of Ryan’s building projects was a birdhouse.

    5. Both Kayla and Ryan love their dog. He seems to like them too.