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Tag: Elva

“Observing KBO”: Elva Manquera-DeShields

“Observing KBO” is intended to be an ongoing, occasional feature of this KBO news-feed. It will include not only profiles of individual members of KBO staff, but also background stories “from the field” that otherwise might not appear in print.

“Observing KBO”: Elva Manquera

(The KBO Observer met with Elva Manquera-DeShields at a noisy Ashland coffee house. We enjoyed our conversation amid the din.)

It’s readily evident to the KBO Observer that Elva is bright, thoughtful, upbeat, and genuine. With these and other qualities, Elva plays a key role at Klamath Bird Observatory. She wears a number of hats as KBO’s Science-Communication, Outreach, and DEIJ (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice) Program Manager. Maintaining KBO’s website, making regular social-media contacts, as well as managing (and writing for) KBO’s Newsfeed — which you are currently reading — are among her ongoing tasks.

Elva Manquera-DeShields, at Ashland Roasting Company

You may have seen Elva “tabling” for KBO outside of the Ashland Co-op or the Medford Co-op, as well as at Earth Day, the K-S Wild Film Festival, Rogue Valley Bird Day, and many other events. Elva enjoys her regular outreach opportunities to introduce people to the wonderful world of birding. She created KBO’s “Conmigo” (“with me” in Spanish) program, to help understand and overcome barriers for marginalized groups to connect with birds. Likewise, she regularly visits various schools, including her work with students at Central Point High School’s disabilities program. Thus, for a lot of people, Elva is the public “face” of Klamath Bird Observatory.

Elva, who is 32 years old, is a native of southern Oregon (born in Roseburg). Her late father immigrated to the States from Chihuahua, Mexico, at first working as a tree planter, then in a sawmill and marrying Elva’s mother, who worked at the Riddle nickel mine. Growing up in the rural community of Riddle, after high school, she went to Oregon State University (OSU), graduating with a major in zoology and a minor in fish and wildlife. During summer while at OSU she worked at a salmon cannery in Dillingham, Alaska, where a common sight was the group of hungry grizzly bears that came to the adjacent beach to feast on fish. Elva then moved with her husband, Joey, to Pullman, Washington, so that he could study plant pathology at Washington State University. In 2018 they came to the Rogue Valley, where Elva earned a master’s degree in environmental education from Southern Oregon University. They feel lucky that both of them have found jobs that meet their passions. (Joey has a position at OSU’s Research and Extension Experimental Station on Hanley Road.)

Starting out as a KBO intern during her master’s studies, Elva has been on permanent staff since 2021, making herself indispensable by serving with Klamath Bird Observatory’s Board members on the Community Education, Fundraising, and DEIJ committees. “I see myself as bridging the gap between the community and KBO’s scientific research,” says Elva. “I feel so fortunate that I can bring my full self, as a woman of color, to help people and birds.” When asked her favorite bird species, Elva identified the acorn woodpecker. She loves hearing their raucous, laughing calls and observing their busy sociability among the trees.

Happy birding! The KBO Observer