2015 Wilderness Risk Management Conference

By: Program Manager Liz Fager and Equipment and Facilities Manager Jim Smith

Venture Outdoors prides itself on providing high quality outings that build on the knowledge and experience of staff and volunteers as well as its outdoor recreation partners. Its excellent track record is accomplished by keeping staff and volunteer leaders trained and up to date on the latest industry standards. This year Venture Outdoors’ Program Manager Liz Fager and Equipment and Facilities Manager Jim Smith attended the twenty second annual Wilderness Risk Management Conference (WRMC) in Portland, Oregon. The WRMC focuses on providing practical risk management skills, sharing field and administrative techniques, networking with others in the industry, and helping develop risk management standards for the outdoor adventure and education industries.

Hear from Liz and Jim on what they hope to bring back to the organization as a result of their experience.

From Liz:

DSC_0578 The WRMC was an extremely educational and valuable experience. With topics ranging from working with “At-Risk” populations to strategies for better risk management, the conference provided me with tons of good information that I can share with the organization. For example, Training Your Staff to Be Risk Managers provided training tools and tactics to strengthen our risk management training for staff and volunteers. As an organization, we are continuously looking at ways to improve our training so that staff and volunteers are better leaders in an outdoor setting. These tools will directly influence the training we host for the staff and volunteers in 2016.

The networking opportunities were also valuable and provided me with contacts from across the county to share ideas and challenges. I am truly looking forward to putting my educational experience into practice in the coming year.

From Jim:

DSC_0520The WRMC was a very informative experience. As the Equipment and Facilities Manager, many of the workshops changed the way I looked at risk management within my role and the tasks I do at Venture Outdoors. For example, Performing Under Pressure presented explanations of how people perform under pressure and how to train staff in a manner that will optimize their performance in stressful situations. As someone who deals with training and operation of our trailers, including our portable climbing wall, the workshop provided me with a clearer understanding to staff’s reactions to stressful tasks that I do on a daily basis without much thought or pressure. With this understanding, I can more effectively structure our trailer training in 2016 to optimize success for all the staff. Conferences such as these are great chances to look at how we run our trainings and programs compared to other industry professionals and what we can do to improve the experiences of participants.

Both Liz and Jim feel extremely lucky to have had the conference experience in preparation for 2016. They are looking forward to being able to share their experience with the rest of the Venture Outdoors community and to put their experiences into practice.

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  • The Nature Treasure Hunt is Here – Join Now!

    March 20, 2018

    By: Josh Doty of Foto-Foraging

    Spring is here. If you have been hiding from the snow and cold temperatures, it is now time to venture outdoors again. There is so much to see, even if you only have a chance to go to your local park or even your own backyard.

    The Nature Treasure Hunt

    The Nature Treasure Hunt is a quest to explore, discover, document, learn and share (Instagram #naturetreasurehunt, #ventureoutdoors) nature with others. It is a year-long activity that will provide exercise, fresh air, strong family/friend bonding moments, opportunities to discover and learn,

     » Read more about: The Nature Treasure Hunt is Here – Join Now!  »

  • Winter Tree ID

    March 13, 2018

    By: Iris Marzolf

    My favorite Venture Outdoors program I’ve attended thus far is the Winter Tree ID hike in January at Frick Park.

    It was an educational hike, so participants got a two-for-one deal—exercising while learning how to identify trees without leaves. Winter tree identification is a lot easier and more engaging than one would think. My opinion of trees in winter is generally negative; they look like dull brown skeletons. They’re all the same. Ugly.

    BUT ACTUALLY trees are like people; certain types look the same, and they all have unique characteristics depending on how they grew up.

     » Read more about: Winter Tree ID  »

  • Youth Mental Health First Aid

    March 6, 2018

    By: Maggie Zangara

    On November 20, 2017, I had the opportunity to participate in an interesting training hosted by Venture Outdoors. The name of the training was Youth Mental Health First Aid, and it took place at Venture Outdoors through the Allegheny County Department of Human Services. A fun fact is that Lady GaGa, who is a first aider herself and an advocate of the program, has set a goal of getting 150,000 people trained this year.

    Youth Mental Health First Aid ActivityThe intent of the training was to teach family members, teachers, school staff, health and human services workers and other caring citizens how to help adolescents who are experiencing a mental health crisis.

     » Read more about: Youth Mental Health First Aid  »

  • Rachel Carson Trails

    February 27, 2018

    By: Amy Nelson, Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy, Member and Volunteer 

    In 2015, three friends and I did the Rachel Carson Trail Challenge  for the first time. We were avid road runners, bored with the monotony of pavement.  A 34-mile trek through the woods seemed like a great way to mix things up. Cut to the day of the event. Twenty miles into it, we experienced a torrential downpour which caused mud slides on some of the steepest hills. Mother Nature can be cruel.  By the time the last five miles rolled around our spirits were broken and we prayed for it to be over.

     » Read more about: Rachel Carson Trails  »

  • Leaving No Trace

    February 20, 2018

    By: Sara Cardamone

    At the Annual Volunteer Meeting, I had the opportunity to attend the Leave No Trace breakout session. Led by Joel Johnston, the interactive gathering was focused on educating participants on what Leave No Trace is truly about. Here are some of the things that I learned!

    Leave No Trace was launched when attendance at parks started to increase, so much so that it was taking a toll on the environment. The mission of the organization is to “protect the outdoors by teaching and inspiring people to enjoy it responsibly”. This comes in the form of seven principles that one should keep in mind when enjoying the outdoors.

     » Read more about: Leaving No Trace  »

Kayak Pittsburgh

Sunset Paddle

Thank you for another great season!
We’ll see you on the water in 2018!


Featured Outing


About Boating Safely
Saturday, March 24
9 AM – 5 PM

Join Venture Outdoors and members of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary for About Boating Safely. This course gives participants the knowledge needed to obtain a boat license or safety certification in Pennsylvania.