Introducing the writers who regularly contribute articles and columns to the Patagonia Regional Times. Look for more profiles in upcoming issues.

Francesca Claverie

Hello, my name is Francesca Claverie and I write native plant-related content for the Patagonia Regional Times. I grew up on an alfalfa farm in Calexico, CA where my family has strong roots on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. I attended elementary school in Calexico’s sister city, Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico, where my mother would walk me and my brother across the border every day so we could learn Spanish, understand border life, and have a deeper connection to our Mexican heritage. 

I started working with native plants at the UC Davis Arboretum while in college and, after graduating with degrees in Native American Studies and International Agricultural Development, continued as a manager, assisting with propagation research and organizing plant sales. I also had a brief stint working in a nematode identification lab, and although fascinating and enjoyable, I am happy I didn’t stick to that career path. 

In 2013 I moved to Patagonia for an internship with Native Seeds/SEARCH and will never leave! I now work at Borderlands Restoration Network managing the Native Plant Materials Program. I am passionate about increasing accessibility and enthusiasm for native plants, and promoting partnerships between nurseries and plant programs on both sides of the border. I currently serve on boards of the Patagonia Regional Times and the Sweetwater Center in Cascabel, AZ and in 2021 began a term on Patagonia’s Town Council. I enjoy living with many wonderful housemates and co-workers, including my sweet pup Chiltepin, baby cats, and a couple old chickens.

Vince Pinto

As a naturalist with degrees in wildlife biology (B.S.) and ethnobotany (M.A.), I offer unique and inspiring tours and educational outdoor programs through Ravens-Way Wild Journeys – my nature adventure and conservation organization based in the Sky Islands of southeast Arizona. My wife, Claudia, and I own and manage two nature preserves: Raven’s Nest by Patagonia Lake and Sonoita Creek State Natural Area & Raven’s Mountain in the Chiricahua Mountains. Raven’s Nest hosts a luxury safari camp for birders, nature-lovers and those craving peace and solitude.

My lifelong mission and passion is to educate and inspire people about the beauty and critical biodiversity of the natural world. Thus, we offer custom birding tours, naturalist training, biodiversity tours, wilderness survival training, astronomy programs, ethnobotany programs, and more. 

My field research in Arizona includes spotted owls, willow flycatchers, yellow-billed cuckoos, and wild turkeys. My naturalist explorations have included Hawaii, Alaska, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, the Bahamas, Bolivia, Japan, Singapore, Australia, France, Italy and Botswana.

I have trained participants for several Survival TV shows and acted as a Consultant to ‘Fat Guys in the Woods.’ I was the survival expert for the Arizona episode of ‘Marooned’ with Ed Stafford, and have lent my expertise to several pilot shoots focused on endangered wildlife, such as Mexican Gray Wolves, and on Conservation in AZ. I also acted in an anti-mining film based in Patagonia.

Patra Kelly

I grew up on a ranch in Idaho, imagining what it would be like to explore lush, tropical places. The opportunity came in the late ‘60s when I went to Bogota, Colombia for six years to teach in a school established by a group of Franciscan nuns from the U.S. that emphasized creative thinking and originality. I also taught English in a language center to groups, such as airline pilots. 

When I returned to the U.S., I lived briefly in New York City, then moved to New Jersey where my husband, Chuck, our daughter and I became involved in a parent-owned school. With two friends, we purchased a mansion in the inner city for a low price and formed a cooperative, ages six to eighty, that lasted almost ten years. There were never any privacy issues, as there were three floors and seventeen rooms, including a ballroom which we used for music and exercise. 

In 1980 we moved to a small town in southern Oregon, where I worked part time as a park ranger. This gave me time to continue studies in comparative mythology and teach dance. These two interests were combined when I found children of all ages willing to experiment with “storytelling through dance,” using lively pop music. When adults became involved, we formed a community theater featuring comedy and dance, performing and entertaining ourselves for 25 years.

A few years after retiring to Patagonia in 2005, I began volunteering, which included helping the PRT by responding to emails. I now volunteer as dispatcher for the transportation program and the take-out lunch program of the Senior Center. Writing poetry has become a way for me to appreciate and try to understand fascinating ideas.

Laura Wenzel

I have been writing for the PRT for nearly eight years and working at Patagonia Public Library for just as long. Ever since I was a child, I wanted to write and to be surrounded by books and now I get to do those very things. Prior to working at our library, I studied literature and creative writing at the University of Arizona. I worked in restaurants as a server, dishwasher, a garde manger, and baker, cleaned houses, and was even assistant editor of this paper for a year. 

Though my culinary career didn’t “pan” out, working at the library has been one of the highlights of my life thus far, mostly because I love the many aspects it has allowed me to serve our community. 

The pandemic has put many things into perspective for me, namely that I miss when the library was completely open and full of exuberant people. As Library Director, I continue to look towards the future of the library. Turns out, all of the writing I did in my youth paid off and the library was awarded all four of the grants that we applied for at the beginning of 2021. Later this year, we’ll have hotspots and Chromebooks for lending, new and exciting digital content, as well as a new Library of Things collection. 

When I’m not at the library or plunked in front of my computer working from home, I’m probably in my kitchen cooking a meal or baking something tasty for my household. 

Cooking is my love language. I recently rekindled my love affair with delicious food and it has been a godsend for my mental health (though not so much my waistline) in these stressful times. Although I have my tried-and-true standbys, experimenting with new recipes and flavors is too much fun, even if things don’t turn out quite right.