Living the Dream: Alumna Protects Pacific Marine Life in Hawaii

sunset beach
Sunset on Wake Atoll, approximately 2,300 miles west of Honolulu

By Ann Gill (M.A., ’76)

A passionate and talented overachiever, Laura Beauregard (B.S., ’85) protects human and ocean life as emergency coordinator and senior technical adviser with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Pacific Islands Refuges and Monuments Office. She has played an active role in conservation activities for Marine National Monuments, which cover a large area of the Pacific.

Bird banding in Hakalua on the Big Island
Bird banding in Hakalua on the Big Island

While growing up in Hawaii, Beauregard went hiking and camping on Maui, where she spotted a park ranger patrolling on horseback. She immediately knew what career she wanted to pursue. When the time came to apply for college, she submitted applications to several universities that offered majors in the outdoor recreation field; she chose Colorado State University because she also wanted to learn to ski. While on campus, she played on the rugby team and participated in summer programs at the CSU Mountain Campus. She also enjoyed many other good times, including College Days and the Mud Bowl.

After graduation, Beauregard spent a year as a park ranger for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Oklahoma. The Corps then transferred her to California, where she served as a park ranger in several places, including Lake Sonoma and Hensley Lake. She attended the Fresno Police Academy to join Madera County as a deputy sheriff-coroner, where she patrolled the County and served on the dive team for search-and-recovery. Following another promotion by the Corps, she worked as natural resource manager at Chief Joseph Dam in Washington and obtained her M.S. in environmental engineering.

Beauregard’s family includes son Rhett, daughter Rhiana, stepdaughter Tiffany, and three grandchildren. After a Hawaiian vacation, her family encouraged her to move back to her home state. She changed agencies in 2009 and became a conservation planner for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, working with 22 Pacific island refuges and four marine monuments scattered across the ocean from Guam to the Big Island of Hawaii.

Beauregard with colleagues on Palmyra Atoll
Beauregard, second from the right, with colleagues on Palmyra Atoll

One of her favorites is Palmyra Atoll in the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, one of the world’s largest marine conservation areas. The monument is closed to commercial fishing but suffers both unintended and intended incursions by trespassing fishing boats. Among other problems for its marine life is ocean trash, not only discarded plastics but also abandoned fishing nets and lines on which algae grow and then marine life gets entangled. Beauregard has helped coordinate responses by Coast Guard and Department of Defense vessels to fishing vessel incursions and other threats to marine life.

Scuba diver
Beauregard diving at Palmyra Atoll

Stationed in Honolulu, she is currently the emergency coordinator for wildlife refuges and staff on remote islands. She teams with NOAA and National Weather Service colleagues to monitor hurricane tracks to help coordinate evacuations when needed.

Did Beauregard’s career capture her childhood dream? She rode horseback patrols in California and gets to dive in gorgeous coral reefs now. She helps protect marine life and plays a role in supporting “resiliency” in a changing global environment. She also “gets to enjoy Hawaiian sunrises” and still scuba dives for fun, planning a dive trip to Fiji this year. This stalwart Ram is e noho nei i ka moeʻuhane (living the dream)!