Senior Special Agent Lori Choquette
Headquarters, Special Operations Division, Wildlife Intelligence Unit
SSA Lori Choquette recovering a California condor.

“Just because your path diverges from its original course does not mean that you have failed. We are constantly learning and evolving and our interests and goals naturally change with that growth. In my opinion the only true failure occurs when you choose not to try. And make no mistake - it is always your choice,” Senior Special Agent Lori Choquette.

What is your primary work focus?

My name is Lori Choquette and I am a senior special agent with the Wildlife Intelligence Unit (WIU), assigned as the Service and OLE staff coordinator at a multiagency facility. I support OLE field agents by coordinating and deconflicting their cases with overlapping investigations of other agencies, providing intelligence and leads to help them further develop their cases, and informing them of resources that they may not know exist.

Why do you believe your job makes a positive difference? 

I wholeheartedly believe in the importance of OLE’s mission and that the WIU can positively affect how our investigations are prepared and regarded by prosecutors. By collaborating with other agencies that have overlapping investigations, the OLE can pool its resources with those partner agencies’ capabilities to maximize the enforcement potential. It takes a village!

What was your career path that brought you to the Service?

My career path has been extremely circuitous. I did not grow up dreaming of becoming a Service special agent. In fact, I did not learn that such a job existed until I was well into my law enforcement career! Over the years, my interest was piqued by many different fields, pulling me in several directions before I was able to pair my love for wildlife with the professional abilities I have gained in my various positions. I started in the U.S. Army as an aviation structural repairer (think Rosie the Riveter!) and later became one of the first female Apache helicopter pilots. After leaving the military, I obtained several college degrees while trying to determine what I wanted to be when I grew up. After law school, I became a special agent with the U.S. Secret Service for six years, then with the Department of the Interior Office of Inspector General for two years, before finally getting the opportunity to come to the Service and OLE. I have been a special agent with OLE for approximately five years.

What are you most proud of? 

I am very proud of my military service and the life lessons I learned during it. I grew up a lot in a short period of time and it made me a stronger, more confident person.

What advice would you give to a young woman who is thinking about pursuing a career in wildlife law enforcement? 

First, identify your “why.” What attracted you to this profession? The deeper and more meaningful your reason for pursuing this career, the more likely you will succeed. Remind yourself of your “why” when things become challenging. Second, prepare yourself by obtaining the education and experience to make yourself one of the most qualified applicants. Seek out internships, volunteer positions, anything that will provide broad real-life experience. Third, apply. And if you don’t get selected - keep applying!

How does the danger of your job affect your loved ones?

My family understands how important my job is to me and they have become accustomed to it by now. My current position is at headquarters, so I’m quite removed from the dangers that field agents regularly encounter.

What challenges did you overcome to get where you are today?

My challenges are not unique. I experienced gender discrimination and harassment early and often in the military, but I refused to be deterred from pursuing my goals. I was told that women were not allowed to do some of the things that I wanted to do - in some instances that actually was the official military policy, but that didn’t stop me from applying and eventually attaining my goals.

- Written by Senior Special Agent Lori Choquette

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