Getting to Know Our Staff: 15 Questions with… Karen Wood

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 Karen Wood, our shared Chief Financial Officer.

Karen Wood 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 Norfolk and Virginia Beach, VA. After college (at William & Mary in Williamsburg), I moved to Eugene, Oregon in the mid 80s where I started my first accounting job and became active in various environmental causes. I moved to Pittsburgh in 2000 so that my children could grow up closer to their families (their father grew up here.) Skipping forward another 17 years, I learned of the new “shared CFO” position and jumped into the ring. I had been aware of Venture Outdoors since it started and always felt very aligned with their mission. From my own experiences in environmental and educational work, there is nothing as effective as getting people outdoors to foster a real understanding of the natural world around us. The more we retreat inside, in front of our screens, as a society, the more important this becomes.

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

To provide better understanding and planning from a financial perspective.

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

Anything from just sitting in your backyard getting more familiar with the plant life and animals moving through or living there, to enjoying a hike, bike ride, or boat trip and discovering new places.

Karen at Watkins Glen - Blog Photo 2 4. If you had to pick only one recreational activity to practice for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

Hiking/walking. It can be meditative and gives me time to really take in my surroundings at my own pace.

5. What is the craziest thing you have done?

Agreeing to so many pets over the years. Right now I live with a dog, a cat, a bunch of koi (including about 2-3 dozen babies), an impressive array of wild bird neighbors, and I’m awaiting the arrival of a second dog.

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

My favorite local hike recently is Fall Run park in Shaler. Getting further afield: Presque Isle, Cook Forest, the Laurel Highlands, First Landing State Park (Virginia Beach), and the Bocas del Toro islands in Panama.

7. What is your favorite forest/camping snack?

I have a weakness for trail mix. With M&Ms.

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

David Brower, Rachel Carson, Jane Goodall

9. What is your favorite Venture Outdoors memory?

I’m still making them!Karen Presque Isle Biking - Blog Photo 2

10. Describe your dream Venture Outdoors program/outing.

Kayak or canoe trip on the Clarion River.

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

Girl Scout camp in Suffolk, VA as a 7-year-old, “flying up” Brownie where I developed a love for archery and canoeing.

12. What would the title of your autobiography be?

Riding the rapids of life.

13. Any hidden talents?

I was trained as a classical pianist.

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

The Alpine Butterfly by Phillip Roebuck

15. What is your biggest challenge nowadays?

Getting settled in my exciting new position as the shared CFO for five fantastic nonprofit organizations!


Stay tuned for more “Fifteen Questions with…” soon!

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  • Getting To Know Our Staff: 12 Questions with Ian Brown

    December 12, 2017

    There’s a lot of behind the scenes work that goes into planning your favorite outdoor adventures! Our staff questionnaire series allows you to learn about those who work inside to get you outside.This week we’ve interviewed Ian Brown, our new 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? 

    Ian Brown Blog 1I grew up in Chillicothe, Ohio, located in the foothills of Southern Ohio. For those who don’t know, Chillicothe is home to the outdoor drama Tecumseh and was Ohio’s First Capital.  

     » Read more about: Getting To Know Our Staff: 12 Questions with Ian Brown  »

  • Expanding Your “Nature Zone”

    December 5, 2017

    By: Amy Camp
    Increasing your comfort levels in the great outdoors

    Life and career coaches, myself included, often work with their clients to recognize and expand their “comfort zones.” Imagine a comfort zone as being a small circle of activities and situations in which you feel safe or comfortable. It’s like a cozy little bubble that can be hard to step beyond. Our comfort zones can be expanded, however, and our lives will be enriched when we challenge ourselves to step out.

    Just beyond the comfort zone is another, larger circle – the “learning zone.” And beyond that is the “danger zone.” (And who wants to go there?

     » Read more about: Expanding Your “Nature Zone”  »

  • Behind the Scenes: Meet Grace

    November 28, 2017

    This week we’re happy to introduce another valuable member of our intern team, Grace Groeger! Grace is a senior at Slippery Rock University majoring in Public Relations.

    Grace Groeger1. What are you currently up to outside of Venture Outdoors? 

    Outside of Venture Outdoors, I’m currently on the big girl job hunt. It’s a scary place out there, but being able to see all the possibilities is so eye opening. Besides that I am preparing myself for a snowy winter to get out and snowboard.  

    2. What brought you to Venture Outdoors? 

    I came across Venture Outdoors just trolling through Indeed one day.

     » Read more about: Behind the Scenes: Meet Grace  »

  • In The Spirit of Thanksgiving

    November 21, 2017


    If you follow us on social media, you know that we’ve been participating in a #30DaysOfGratitude challenge. Every day for the last 21 days, we’ve posted about something or someone that we’re grateful for. What we’ve learned over these three weeks is that we would need an #InfiniteDaysOfGratitude challenge to showcase all that Venture Outdoors is thankful for.

    In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we’re continuing with our #30DaysOfGratitude by sharing what the Venture Outdoors staff is grateful for today.


    Sherry and Granddaughter


    “I’m thankful for this little baby doll right here.

     » Read more about: In The Spirit of Thanksgiving  »

  • Lakeside and Treetops

    November 14, 2017

    By: Chrissy Ludwikowski

    As the days become shorter (and the work days seemingly longer), it can be hard for families to make time to be together, and one’s mind doesn’t normally put colder days hand-in-hand with outdoor activities. Fortunately, we live in a city that has opportunities available year-round to invoke our sense of adventure, even during our daily grind (and don’t worry, these adventures will get your blood pumping to keep you mighty warm)!

    Thanks to Venture Outdoors and Kayak Pittsburgh, my family has adopted a love for everything that the outdoors has to offer,

     » Read more about: Lakeside and Treetops  »

Kayak Pittsburgh

Sunset Paddle

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


Featured Outing

Friday Night Lights Hike

Friday Night Lights
Friday, December 15
6:30 – 8:30 PM

Join us for a 2-hour hike offering different vantage points of our City’s spectacular skyline. We’ll take in the city-scape while hiking at a moderate pace along sidewalks, up staircases and over bridges.