Ever since he can remember, Ian Dombroski ’09 has been fascinated by the beauty and wonder of the natural world. An in-class screening of the documentary film An Inconvenient Truth, about former United States Vice President and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Al Gore’s campaign to educate people about global warming, during his junior year at The Shipley School turned his early fascination into a lifelong passion.
“It was my first window into the world of sustainability and environmental protection,” recalls Dombroski, who began seriously considering relevant career options while taking biology with Upper School science teacher Jessie Willing. “Realizing the dire situation the world could be in, and that immediate action is necessary to prevent catastrophe, helped inspire my passion for environmental protection.”
Naturally, when it came time for his Senior Service Project, Dombroski chose to work with an environmental organization, Willistown Conservation Trust, which preserves and manages the open land, rural character, and unique resources of the Willistown area and nearby communities in order to inspire, educate, and develop a lifelong commitment to the land and the natural world. “I learned quite a bit about ecology, land stewardship, and how humans fit into the landscape,” he says. “In particular, working on the Trust’s Rushton Farm really gave me a sense of our place in the natural world and how we can work with, rather than against, nature.”
After Shipley, Dombroski went on to study biology and environmental studies at Colgate University, where he was inducted into Beta Beta Beta National Biological Honor Society and presented original research at the New York State Green Building Conference, and earned a master’s degree in environmental studies, with a concentration in environmental biology, from the University of Pennsylvania.
Dombroski, who resides in Malden, Massachusetts, is now a Life Scientist with the United States Environmental Protection Agency, where he monitors excess nutrients entering estuaries from diffuse sources. On any given day, he says, he may be collecting water samples and measuring various aspects of water quality, providing technical assistance to stakeholders on diffuse pollution, or reviewing grant and contract proposals from groups looking to monitor, study, or decrease nutrient pollution.
“The most rewarding aspect of my job,” Dombroski says, “is knowing that I’m working to clean up our nation’s waterways for current and future generations as well as our important wildlife.”