EHS retiree eyed conservation, took on teaching science
As a high school graduate, all Dennis Zielinski knew about his future was there would be more school.
If he even merely mentioned another plan, his father wouldn't hear of it, Zielinski said. His dad, Ray, was a factory worker who'd been unable to continue his own education beyond high school.
"He'd give me that stern Polish stare and say, 'you're going to go to college'," Zielinski said.
So the Menomonee Falls native headed for UW-Stevens Point to study natural resources. He said he was interested in resource management, perhaps becoming a parks and recreation director someday.
Although he briefly held positions related to that field, a longer-lasting job of the kind he sought never materialized, he said. The demand for conservationists (now known as environmental scientists) just didn't exist when he was ready. He ultimately followed several of his friends with similar aspirations who were turning to a different career: teaching.
"Some of the others were going to districts that had school forests," he said about a way to improve their chances of employment while possibly incorporating an aspect of their original pursuits.
Back at UWSP, Zielinski said he finished his credits, gaining a Masters degree in science education, and began teaching. Thirty-two years later, he's retiring from that alternate choice, which he's done in the Ellsworth School District since 1988.
Read more in the print version of the Herald June 2.