From Ants to the EPA

PROVO, Utah – Apr 18, 2022 – Life sometimes has a funny way of helping people find their paths, and in the case of MPA alumna Shari Grossarth, her road to the BYU Marriott School of Business began with ants. When ant research conducted during her undergrad eventually led to the MPA program, this conservation biology student discovered a side of public administration she previously didn’t know existed.

Years of hiking, camping, and visiting national parks with her family instilled in Grossarth an appreciation for the natural world. Armed with a love for the outdoors and conservation, Grossarth came to BYU, declared herself a conservation biology major, and planned to receive her graduate degree in entomology. However, while working as a research assistant, Grossarth collaborated with a professor from the MPA program who changed the course of her life. “I met BYU professor Don Adolphson while I was doing ant ecology research, and that’s how I discovered the connection between environmental management and public administration,” says Grossarth.

After receiving her BS from BYU in conservation biology in 2000, Grossarth came to BYU Marriott where she completed her MPA in 2004. Following graduation, Grossarth began working for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and is still there today. Her current role as a policy analyst at the EPA’s Washington, D.C. office involves consulting on new guidelines developed by the EPA.

Although Grossarth didn’t end up studying insects under a microscope, her time at the EPA has kept her on her toes as she has filled multiple roles. Initially she felt unqualified for these jobs, but her combined experience from church service and being a student at BYU Marriott taught her the power of being flexible and open minded. "I feel like I wasn’t qualified for many of the things I was asked to do,” explains Grossarth. “But because of the gospel and the versatility I gained from the MPA program, I was able to learn.”

One notable experience that helped shape Grossarth was her missionary service for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Relocating to Hamburg, Germany, for 18 months to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the German people wasn’t easy, but she wouldn’t trade the life lessons she gained from her experience for anything. “My mission was wonderful, and I love the people of Germany, but missions are hard. A mission taught me resilience and hard work and showed me how to do difficult things, endure, and seek guidance,” says Grossarth. “Many people didn’t initially want to talk about Jesus Christ, so I learned how to share the gospel in creative ways and love all types of people.”

Whether she is sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with the people of Germany, taking on a new role at work, or conducting ant research, Grossarth has learned the importance of being open-minded and willing to try new things. “When it comes to life, I’ve realized it is important to be flexible and open to different ideas, possibilities, and opportunities. I might not have discovered the MPA program if I hadn’t been open to Professor Adolphson’s ideas and insight while we were researching ants,” says Grossarth.

Although a career at the EPA wasn’t initially on her radar, she is grateful for the many experiences that have guided her to where she is today. “The work I do can truly make a difference, and I feel a sense of purpose, like I am accomplishing something good,” she concludes.

Grossarth (middle, left) with coworkers outside of the EPA office in Washington, D.C.
Grossarth (middle, left) with coworkers outside of the EPA office in Washington, D.C.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Marissa Lundeen