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!

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OUTDOOR News

  • Why Venture Outdoors?

    August 15, 2017

    By: Jacob Tumminello

    For many of us, the most time we spend outdoors comes from transitioning between cars and buildings, if that even counts.  As we continue to develop new technological advancements to make our lives easier, we have slowly begun to remove ourselves from the outdoor environment to shift towards safer and less demanding settings. 

    We as a species are less challenged to obtain food which is now carried by large machines to our destinations, and we spend most of our time sitting or sedentary.  Millions of people are damaging their eyes and backs sitting in front of computer screens for hours each day,

     » Read more about: Why Venture Outdoors?  »

  • My First Backpacking Trip with Venture Outdoors

    August 8, 2017

    By: Joshua Tenenbaum

    My backpacking trip to Raccoon State Park was a remarkable experience that I won’t soon forget. Going to the outfitter to select backpacking and camping gear and having the opportunity to use it on the trail was very gratifying. I had a ton of fun packing my bag, trying to distribute weight evenly in my pack, and organizing all my gear and food in the pack (although, it took me multiple tries to get everything to fit).

    Early in the morning, we dusted off our gear and headed out to experience the beauty of Raccoon Creek State Park.

     » Read more about: My First Backpacking Trip with Venture Outdoors  »

  • Where is She Now

    August 1, 2017

    By: Grace Eggleston, Former Communications/ Photography Intern

    This past April, my fantastic internship with Venture Outdoors came to an end. After finishing up my junior year at Pitt, I packed the car and drove down to Washington DC to start my next adventure… as a Communications Intern at the World Wildlife Fund US Headquarters!

    I’m now halfway through my internship, and absolutely loving it! As a Communications Intern on the Science Team at WWF, I have a handful of different jobs. I help out with social media, create flyers for events, and contact WWF grantees for information on their conservation projects.

     » Read more about: Where is She Now  »

  • The Beauty of Hiking

    July 25, 2017

    By: Chloe Seletz, Communications Intern 

    When I am asked what my dream vacation would be, it is always a no brainer. Anywhere I can go hiking. I spent a portion of my childhood living in San Francisco which is where I discovered the beauty of hiking. Every Sunday, my family and I took advantage of the amazing trails California has to offer. Even at a young age, I remember the feeling of getting to the top of a mountain and seeing such mesmerizing views.

    Over the years, I have had the opportunity to travel and hike in many different places.

     » Read more about: The Beauty of Hiking  »

  • Art in the Outdoors

    July 18, 2017

    By: Joshua Tenebaum

    This past week I spent a bit of time developing and furthering my blog post project and compiling photographs and field recordings to showcase to the Venture Outdoors community. Liz Fager and Jessica Wiegand both approached me about writing a blog post to be featured on the Venture Outdoors website. I began reading the other posts to determine an appropriate topic and voice for my writing; I decided to write about art and the outdoors. A rather broad topic, I specifically chose to speak about why I make art, my process, and my impressions of nature whenever I venture outdoors.

     » Read more about: Art in the Outdoors  »

Featured Outing

Beginner Paddle – North Shore
Multiple Dates
6:00 – 8:30 PM

We’ll start with instruction and practice, and then head onto the Allegheny River to see just how easy it is to paddle. Bedazzled by the gorgeous Pittsburgh skyline, you won’t even realize that you’re suddenly paddling like a pro! Equipment, guides and instruction are provided. Solo kayaks are highly recommended for this outing.


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