Laura Steinmann Hackett ’00 and a coati.

In the morning she might ease Groot, a rescued coati (it’s in the raccoon family) that could not be introduced into the wild, into his harness to meet a field-tripping class of second-graders. In the afternoon, she could be with her team at a construction site to relocate a colony of burrowing owls.

What’s not to like about a job in which the wellbeing of wildlife is the purpose behind every task?

Laura Steinmann Hackett ’00 works for the nonprofit Liberty Wildlife, a rescue organization in Phoenix. Her official job titles are wildlife biologist and education coordinator but those don’t stretch far enough to cover the range of her work. For instance, she consults with developers to preempt the destruction of wildlife habitat on construction sites. That’s a big job in the ever-growing city.

She’s committed to educating young people so they can continue the mission of protecting wildlife. “Even on days where I'm running around crazy and don't think I can get everything done, I know there's value in what I'm doing from the feedback I get from the students,” Hackett said. “Or then when I go out into the field, and I'm doing surveys, or nest removals of animals, I know that I'm helping both the environment and habitat.”

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A lifelong animal lover who studied biology at Hamilton, she did graduate work in wildlife management at Arizona State University. One of the jobs she’s had over the years was that of emergency animal medical technician at the Arizona Humane Society. She was on a team featured on Animal Cops: Phoenix, a show on Animal Planet.

Hackett thought about making a career in biology research, but discovered she’d rather be actively engaged with animals.

Off the clock, she’s limited herself to one animal in the house. Usually.

“My husband is not as much of an animal lover as I am, so he keeps me grounded, I have the one dog at home,” she said. “Occasionally, I have to let him know, ‘Hey, when you get home, there's an owl in the shower, so just be careful.’ Or for a couple days, we had a tarantula sitting in a box on our kitchen table.”

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