Growing Healthy Communities: Allison Sambol Making Her Mark on the Environment

Growing up with a dad who was an avid hunter and outdoorsman, Allison Sambol became interested in the natural world. 

“I grew up going out with him exploring. I was the kid that instead of hunting, I would walk in the creek and look around at where we were,” she said.

Her curiosity helped Sambol discover what she wanted to do in life, and brought her to Felsburg Holt & Ullevig where she’s a senior environmental scientist. 

Sambol grew up in the small town of Hays in western Kansas. After finishing high school, she attended the University of Nebraska at Kearney on a softball scholarship. Coming into college, Sambol described feeling unsure of what she wanted to do for a career.

“I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do when I grew up, per se,” she said. “So, I took all general studies my freshman year, and my favorite classes were the physical geography classes. And so, I ended up majoring in that because at the end of the year I was like, ‘Well, what did I enjoy? What clicked for me?’”

Although she stopped playing softball, Sambol decided to stay at UNK where she graduated with a degree in geography with an environmental emphasis.

“What I love about it — being a geographer by education — is that it touches on everything, the natural environment, but also the human environment,” she said. “So cultural resources, and socioeconomics and environmental justice and public involvement and all of those things. I really love the big picture of it all.”

After graduating, Sambol moved to Omaha and has been in environmental consulting ever since.

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Development and the Environment

At Felsburg Holt & Ullevig, Sambol has had the opportunity to work on various projects throughout the Omaha metro such as the modernization of roadways like 42nd and Q streets. As environmental concerns increase, Sambol sees demand increasing for the type of work FHU does.

“Whether it’s federally driven or not, I think there’s more collective awareness about our effects on the environment and the human-environment interaction of what we do — how we develop, how we grow our communities,” she said. “I think there’s a lot to learn from nature and how a diverse ecosystem is a healthy ecosystem. Human communities are not different. So, the better we get at addressing our impacts on the environment around us, the healthier our communities will be.”

Through her work, Sambol hopes to help people recognize that development and environmental consciousness can coincide. While it’s difficult to find answers that please all parties, Sambol works to take all opinions into consideration to arrive at a solution.

“As long as we continue doing what we’ve been doing, which is having more robust public involvement and engagement and community projects, I think we’re going to see that we’re doing a better job of growing our communities because while we can’t agree on everything, people can see that the decision was arrived at with consideration and thought,” she said.

Sambol aims to impact the community in different ways through her work.

“I hope to make a difference in Omaha in a few different ways,” she said. “Through project work and by making Omaha an even more than it already is — a livable and welcoming community. That our amenities, trails, parks or transportation systems work for everyone in all parts of the metro area, suburban or highly urban, and that it’s sustainable and resilient for future generations.

“As far as me individually as a woman in the STEM field, I want to do what I can to contribute to the growth and development of a pipeline of kids who think it’s fun and interesting to get dirty and look at bugs and be out in the environment. And that they can see they can actually have a career in what they find fun to do.”

Besides making advancements in her career, Sambol also works to be a good role model to her two daughters and balance the challenges of being a working mom.