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Barbara studied animal science at Purdue University and ruminant nutrition at Kansas State University. In 1996, she was hired full time at Brookfield as the staff nutritionist in charge of operations, staying over 10 years before moving in 2005 to become the curator of nutrition at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden (CZBG). Barbara co-advises several Species Survival Plans and Taxon Advisory Group programs within the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and helped form the Zoo Nutrition and Wildlife Foundation in 2012.