By: Grace Groeger
Venture Outdoors is fortunate to have many outstanding volunteers. This year we wanted to find a new way to say thank you to our exemplary volunteers and show how valued they are to not only the Venture Outdoors staff but to our Members as well. We came up with the Best Boot Forward Award. The Venture Outdoors community had the opportunity to nominate one volunteer they believe stands out above the rest, someone who is always putting his/her Best Boot Forward. Our FIRST EVER Best Boot Forward Award goes to SHEILA STAGNITTA!
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Sheila grew up just outside the Pittsburgh area in the Mon Valley. She originally moved into Pittsburgh for college, but like most who come to this lovely city, Sheila fell in love and never left.
Sheila started volunteering with Venture Outdoors back in 2007.
SheilaBlogBefore that, she hiked only as a participant. “I remember being on a night hike in the South Side and asked someone how you got to be a Leader. What I didn’t know was that many of the hike participants were Leaders. I got swept along pretty quickly,” said Sheila. And just like that Sheila got all her questions answered about volunteering and soon made her decision that that it was the path for her.
Sheila’s first time as an assistant was on a chocolate tasting hike at Riverview Park. But that’s not where her fun a Riverview Park came to an end. She has been back to lead her first hike as well as her first night hike, making it a very special place to her.
Sheila loves to volunteer with Venture Outdoors because the people are great.  She also likes the hiking and always felt safe trying new things.  She claims that not all her talents are natural.  To become so successful Sheila copied excellent tidbits and traits from past Leaders.
“They each should have a piece of the Best Boot Award, since they taught me well,” Sheila told us.
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As a Leader Shelia believes that it’s part of her responsibility to pass on all that she has learned volunteering and being a Leader. She loves teaching Outdoor Leadership Training classes and always takes the new Leaders under her wing because she remembers how scary it was when she took the lead on her first outing.
Sheila BlogIf you ever want to see our outstanding Trip Leader in person you can usually find her on some High Energy hikes as well on the river kayaking when the weather is nice.  If you’re really outgoing like Sheila the Wednesday Wakeup Paddles are her favorite. But like the rest of us she can never turn down an adult beverage hike. Even with all those amazing programs Shelia doesn’t need all of that to make a trip amazing.  All she really needs is some good weather and happy participants.
Some words of wisdom from our Best Boot Award winner.
“Growing up, we were not a family that hiked or camped or swam or did outdoor stuff, so it was all new to me,” Sheila said.
Sheila and SteveVenture Outdoors taught her a lot about the outdoors, how to take a group out, have fun, and emphasize safe practices.
“I value these skills and use them for both Venture Outdoors and when I’m out with my husband, Steve. I’m also an introvert at heart but I love to lead a group. I just need a nap afterwards to recharge!”
Thank you for all that you do for us here at Venture Outdoors Sheila. We are so thankful to have an amazing volunteer and Leader like you and wouldn’t know what to do without you.