Author: Gena Goodman-Campbell | Published: January 31, 2022 | Category: Profile
At the end of 2021, we lost a former staff person and longtime member of the ONDA community, Devon Comstock.
Witty, wise, curious, hilarious, brutally honest and kind, Devon never hesitated to speak up for what was right, and especially for the wild creatures of the high desert.
While many newer members of the ONDA community never had the opportunity to get to know Devon, she left an indelible mark on ONDA’s work to protect the Greater Hart-Sheldon, and on all of us who worked alongside her.
Devon started with ONDA in 2007 as our membership coordinator, quickly becoming close with ONDA volunteers and staff alike. Devon’s passion for wildlife and birds made her a natural fit to move into the Hart-Sheldon Conservation Coordinator role in 2011, in which she oversaw, among many other achievements, the removal of the last barbed wire fence from the Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge.
I had the pleasure of sharing an office with Devon, and soon caught her contagious passion for birds and birdwatching. During spring migration season, we were frequently distracted by bird sightings out the office windows. I owe much of my knowledge of birds, especially hawks and owls, to her. Devon also taught me how to attract birds by making various sounds, and in her gentle and kindred way, she was always able to get bird visitors to curiously linger a bit longer with us.
In addition to her serious passion for wildlife and wild places, Devon had a seriously silly side. She loved costumes and parties, especially Halloween. When it was finally time for the stewardship trip to remove the last barbed wire fence from Hart Mountain, Devon made sure the trip was a befitting celebration by packing a bin full of hats, wigs and costumes (resulting in hands-down the funniest photos ever taken on an ONDA trip) and getting custom cupcakes made with perfect little pronghorn frosted on top, which she carefully packed in a cooler to ensure they survived the high desert heat.
Devon left the ONDA staff in 2012 to pursue her dream of working as a wildlife biologist, a goal she achieved over the last eight years with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. She remained a well-loved member of the broader ONDA community, attending Annual General Meeting and going on frequent sojourns to Oregon’s high desert with the many friends she made during her time at ONDA. In 2010, she wrote this essay, The House of the Birds, about one such backpacking trip on the West Little Owyhee River.
In honor of Devon and her legacy, here are a few brief remembrances shared by a handful of her many friends. In collecting these memories, it became even clearer that Devon left a lasting mark on the hearts of all those she crossed paths with. She is so deeply missed.