Getting to Know our Staff: Fifteen Questions with… Lora Woodward

By: Grace Eggleston, Communications Intern

We are continuing our staff spotlight series. There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes brain power that goes into planning your favorite programs, be it public, family-friendly, or custom outings. Learn about those who work inside so you can get outside.

This week we’ll be interviewing Lora Woodward, our Program Director.

1. Briefly tell us about your background: where did you grow up, where did you go to school, and what brought you to Venture Outdoors? 

I grew up in Harrisburg, PA on a four-acre property across from my grandparents’ farm. My mom ran a plant nursery, and my dad worked at the Navy Depot. I moved to Pittsburgh in 2001 to attend the University of Pittsburgh. While in school, I became super involved in the Pitt Outdoors Club where I organized whitewater kayaking, rafting, and canoeing trips and learned how to rock climb and cave. In previous jobs, I’ve sold sea kayaks in Maine, pulled invasive plants on an air force base in Wyoming, re-routed a section of the Appalachian Trail in the Smokies, and was a teaching intern at an international school in Thailand. I started at Venture Outdoors in 2007 as the Public Program Coordinator and have been here ever since!

2. Describe your role at Venture Outdoors in 10 words or less.

All I do is meet meet meet no matter what!

3. What does “getting outside” mean to you? 

Having a fun, educational, and/or social experience in the out of doors. Whether it is an urban walk, a backcountry hike, a lake paddle, or going to your favorite sit spot, “getting outside” is choosing the outdoors as a place to spend time.

4. If you had to pick only one recreational activity to practice for the rest of your life, what would it be and why? 

Tandem canoeing. I had no idea what an art form it is. There is such finesse behind each stroke. I grew up whitewater canoeing and we just muscled through the rapids. Now I see it as a balance.

5. What is the craziest thing you have done? 

Traveled alone for three months in Ecuador. It was the most challenging and rewarding experience of my life.

6. What are your top five favorite outdoors/travel destinations? 

I’ve been to some amazing places around the world: Milford Sound, New Zealand; Galapagos Islands, Ecuador; Machu Picchu, Peru; Chiang Mai, Thailand; Angkor Wat, Cambodia.

7. What is your favorite forest/camping snack? 

GORP (granola, oats, raisins and peanuts) along with some chocolate chips!

8. Name three people in history (dead or alive) with whom you would want to take on a Venture Outdoors program of your choice. 

Betty White, Rachel Carson, Jimmy Fallon

9. What is your favorite Venture Outdoors memory? 

Borrowing Venture Outdoors’ snowshoes during Snowmageddon 2010 and hiking through the Hill District and Downtown Pittsburgh with my partner Casey while all the streets were covered in two feet of snow!

10. Describe your dream Venture Outdoors program/outing. 

Having a group of participants walk separate directions into the woods, find a spot that calls to them and sit watching, listening, and feeling nature’s concentric rings, and then being called back together for a campfire circle where we can share stories of our experiences.

11. What is the earliest memory you have of being outside?  

I’ll say hiking the Knife’s Edge on Mt. Katahdin in Maine when I was 12.

12. What would the title of your autobiography be? 

Just Do It!

13. Any hidden talents? 

I used to play roller derby for Steel City Roller Derby. YINZ! YINZ! YINZ!

14. What is your favorite song (or album) right now? 

Smoky Mountain Memories, Dolly Parton

15. What is your biggest challenge nowadays? 

Seeing all of my ideas through to fruition—it takes a lot of work to enact a vision!

Posted in Uncategorized

OUTDOOR News

  • An Overview of Pittsburgh City Parks

    March 28, 2017

    By: Grace Cooper 

    Besides being a beautiful city, Pittsburgh has some lovely parks maintained for us by the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy. So, as we make our way into spring, let’s take advantage of the beautiful recreation areas our city has to offer!  

    Emerald View Park 

    Emerald View Park is the place to get a good view of Pittsburgh. The 257-acre park is actually a combination of three older parks on Mount Washington, Grandview, and Olympia. The wooded hillsides are perfect for hiking, biking, walking—whatever suits your mood.

     » Read more about: An Overview of Pittsburgh City Parks  »

  • Venture Outdoors Youth Programs

    March 21, 2017

    How our team is impacting young lives around the city.

    By: Meg Taylor, Youth Program Intern

    Here at Venture Outdoors, we are known around the city of Pittsburgh as the people that get you outdoors. Whether we take you kayaking along the Allegheny River downtown, on a morning hike in Schenley Park, or cross country skiing at Kooser State Park, you’ll always find us doing something fun outdoors. In addition to the public programs you can find on our website  Activities Calendar, we have also found a way to work outdoors with youth in our local communities. 

     » Read more about: Venture Outdoors Youth Programs  »

  • Mount Washington- A Spring Ritual

    March 14, 2017

    By: David Paul

            

    It rises over everything around it, offering a commanding view of the landscapes that define its rugged region. Despite its steep, unforgiving slopes, tourists flock to it year round, ascending to the top by automobile, a special type of rail car, bicycling, and even using their own two feet. Mount Washington’s vistas offer anyone who makes it to its top a sense of accomplishment; it’s a place for families, friends, couples, and individuals to take in one of the best backdrops in the United States and offers a meaningful place for reflection,

     » Read more about: Mount Washington- A Spring Ritual  »

  • Trail Tails from Witch Doctor

    March 7, 2017

    By: Brian Beach, Youth Program Intern

    Virginia is absolutely the longest state on the Appalachian Trail. I might have had a beard during my 2005 Appalachian Trail thru-hike down in Georgia or Tennessee, but it became a “Grizzly Adams” beard in Virginia. I imagine there was a specific mountain where I snapped due to the solitude. (If so, it was probably Sassafras Mountain. There were at least four or five with that name.) The evolution of a thru-hiker from a “backpacker” to a “homeless person” is less obvious to those residing on the trail. Regardless, it was certainly in Virginia that I became a little more salty than usual.

     » Read more about: Trail Tails from Witch Doctor  »

  • Getting to Know our Staff: Fifteen Questions with… Lora Woodward

    February 28, 2017

    By: Grace Eggleston, Communications Intern

    We are continuing our staff spotlight series. There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes brain power that goes into planning your favorite programs, be it public, family-friendly, or custom outings. Learn about those who work inside so you can get outside.

    This week we’ll be interviewing Lora Woodward, our Program Director.

    1. Briefly tell us about your background: where did you grow up, where did you go to school, and what brought you to Venture Outdoors? 

    I grew up in Harrisburg, PA on a four-acre property across from my grandparents’

     » Read more about: Getting to Know our Staff: Fifteen Questions with… Lora Woodward  »

Kayak Pittsburgh

Get your 2017 Season Pass!

Kayak Pittsburgh North Shore and North Park open Saturday May 6!
Aspinwall Riverfront Park opens Saturday, May 27!

Featured Outing

 Spring Wildflower Walk
Sunday, April 30
10 AM – 1 PM

Join local ecologist Henry Schumacher for a tour of one of the most vibrant local spring wildflower patches here in Southwestern PA. We will take in the fleeting beauty of this annual natural wildflower display and discuss the ecology of wildflowers and their role in the ecosystem.

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