As a child, Allen Bonini developed a strong interest for biological sciences. In eighth grade, he dissected a fetal pig for a science fair project and ended up winning a blue ribbon for his efforts. Allen’s passion for biology made him consider a pre-med major in college, but ultimately led him to study ecology.
“It had been [labeled] a zoology degree curriculum in the past, but with the increasing awareness of the importance of environmental protection in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, many universities were expanding their environmental curriculum to serve the needs of this emerging profession,” Allen explains. “With the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, I envisioned myself joining their efforts to protect the environment.”
After graduating with an ecology degree from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, in 1977, he spent much of his time working in different environmental professions.
“I started out doing field work in water quality, spending several years working for the Illinois State Water Survey participating in water quality sampling, data collection and analysis, research and report writing. After a brief hiatus from environmental work, I came back to work in the area of solid waste and recycling for a number of years across Illinois, Minnesota and Iowa.”
For the past seven and a half years, Allen has worked for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) as a manager of the Watershed Improvement Program. He directs a team of 12 in the implementation of Iowa’s Nonpoint Source Management Program, making sure that each person has the tools and resources they need.
“I learned a long time ago that it is much more important to do the work you love, than it is to work for something that just makes you a lot of money. At the end of the day there is great satisfaction in knowing that you are part of something that is designed to protect our Earth and its natural resources for future generations. Having a passion for my work is what keeps me going.”
Allen’s hobbies include reading, traveling, baking, spending time with family and cheering on his favorite professional sports teams, the Chicago Bears and Chicago Bulls. He also enjoys fishing, which he does at his cabin by Sun Valley Lake in southern Iowa.
Allen understands that clean, quality water is vital to every person on Earth.
“I want my children and future grandchildren to have the same (or a better) environment that I enjoyed growing up. That can only happen if every one of us does their small part to protect this vital, irreplaceable resource.”