Glen Freimuth volunteers at Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge with his wife Ethel Chang.
Greg Byrd | El Defensor Chieftain


COVID-19 mandates have several national park centers around New Mexico still closed to the public indoors. That includes the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge Visitors Center in Socorro County. The times do not prevent lifelong outdoor enthusiasts from enjoying the scenery. It is a spot that brings out volunteers from around the country like Glen Freimuth.

What do you do at the Refuge?

I volunteer here with my wife Ethel Chang. We’ve been volunteering here since 2010 and we come out here for around two months at a time, helping out to support and do archaeology research on the refuge.

How did you get involved in that?

We originally came here during a service project in 2009. We loved this place and thought it would be a neat place to do volunteer work. At that point we started returning for a few months at a time ever since.

What about Sevilleta drew the two of you here?

This area is unique because it is not 100 percent open to the public. There are over 230,000 acres that can be used for research of all kinds. This is a magnificent place to do that work.

What is your main focus when being here at Sevilleta?

There are two focuses here for us. Pre-historic, before written records, and historic. Our first two years here we were doing the pre-historic archaeology finds. There were around 75 different historic sites throughout the refuge. We were able to identify these spots throughout the area based on our findings so that way if a company wanted to do construction in the area it would be protected by the refuge through the database that has been recorded over the years.

How has archaeology drawn you to continue volunteering?

I am a retired archaeologist and throughout the years I did most of my work in the Midwest as well as the Caribbean countries. I had the backbone and felt that I could contribute here at Sevilleta. Most people just think about the animals here. But it’s also the plants and the historic cultural resources that are important. We need to know what is out there, something the whole state deserves to know.

Where were you born and raised?

In a small town in Southwestern Illinois called Columbia. Once I retired this area really felt like a new home for me and my wife throughout our endeavors across the country. This facility is able to provide housing over the years when we travel here.

What is your favorite movie?

Has to be “Dances With Wolves.” I like the way it is done on screen as well as the message it portrays about the Native American cultures. I could watch that movie 1,000 times.

What is your favorite thing to do outside of work?

Traveling. Going anywhere. My wife and I have been retired since 2005. We’ve been fortunate enough to travel all over the world.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be?

Where my wife and I live now, central Illinois. Anywhere you go it can either be big city or small town living depending on your mood. That is my home.

If you won the lottery tomorrow, what would you do with the money?

Probably give a lot of it away, especially to the Nature Conservancy which was heavily involved in creating this place. Buy a few small things for ourselves. And of course spend some money on travel.

Greg Byrd | El Defensor Chieftain