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!

Posted in Staff


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    March 20, 2018

    By: Josh Doty of Foto-Foraging

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  • Youth Mental Health First Aid

    March 6, 2018

    By: Maggie Zangara

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     » 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.

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  • Leaving No Trace

    February 20, 2018

    By: Sara Cardamone

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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.