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?
I 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. I attended Muskingum College and studied Conservation Science. I also attended The State University of New York: Albany receiving my Masters of Public Policy and Affairs. I was drawn to Venture Outdoors because of the great work they are doing getting residents of Southwestern PA outside. It is crucial to provide everyone the opportunity to experience the outdoors.
2. Describe your role at Venture Outdoors in 10 words or less.
Make sure all programs are running smoothly.
3. What does “getting outside” mean to you?
Getting outside is so important to me, whether it be a planned trip or just a walk around the neighborhood. I use that time to think, clear my head and take in the natural surroundings. I also try to take my kids outside wherever possible for them to explore, create and take risks outside.
4. If you had to pick only one recreational activity to practice for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
Since I was little, I played soccer, I plan to continue to play as long as possible. When I lived in Seattle, I picked up running and have run a half-marathon a year since. I also plan to hike and be outside for as long as I’m able to.
5. What is the craziest thing you have done?
After I received my undergraduate degree, I took a job with the US Forest Service looking at Pre-Post fire regions in the West. Our crew was tasked with looking for woodpecker species and to determine how many fledglings were produced at each nest. For a more in-depth analysis of the research, take a look at this link. Essentially, the Forest Service paid me to hike for 10 hours a day. This job took me all over the West, giving me the opportunity to car-camp, explore and meet some amazing people. In more than one instance, random strangers offered me and the crew I worked with a place to stay while they were away on trips, instilling in me an amazing sense of the good-heartedness of people.
6. What are your top five favorite outdoors/travel destinations?
- Hocking Hills, Ohio
- Adirondacks, NY
- Olympic Peninsula, WA
- Puerto Rico
7. What is your favorite forest/camping snack?
Nothing beats a good Peanut Butter (Sun Butter) and jelly or honey sandwich after a day outside.
8. Name three people in history (dead or alive) with whom you would want to take on a Venture Outdoors program of your choice.
My Grandfather, who I have fond memories of taking my brother and I fishing when we were little, Rachel Carson who inspired me to think critically about environmental issues and, Dr. Antwi Akom. Dr. Akom has an extensive background in building collaborative, community-facing technology projects and new models of urban innovation that help cities become smarter, more equitable, just and sustainable.
9. What is your favorite Venture Outdoors memory? (or newbies: What are you looking forward to most?)
Working with the Adaptive Paddling Program and helping grow our participation in urban communities while strengthening our community presence.
10. Describe your dream Venture Outdoors program/outing.
A reoccurring cultural tour of Pittsburgh’s Neighborhoods, ending as a block party to celebrate the residents and businesses of that neighborhood. Each tour would utilize community residents to co-lead the tours and would end with a community block party.
11. What is the earliest memory you have of being outside?
I have always had a connection to being outside. I remember going to my grandparents’ lake in Southern Ohio to fish and play in the woods when I was young.
12. What is your biggest challenge nowadays?
Having three small children under 5 years old keeps me on my toes.