Ryan grew up on a family farm/feedlot operation in Nisland, SD and graduated from Newell High School. He received his B.S. in agricultural economics from SDSU in 2007. While he was a student, he also served as the students’ association president and was elected to the Brookings City Council. After graduating, Ryan worked for the Brookings Economic Development Corporation before being appointed the Deputy Commissioner of School and Public Lands under former Commissioners Jarrod Johnson and Vern Larson. In November, 2014, Ryan was elected as South Dakota's 27th Commissioner of School and Public Lands. Ryan now lives in Pierre with his wife Whitney, their son Callum and daughter Lilah.