By: Beth Zabiegalski
As an organization, Venture Outdoors does some really awesome and exciting things with local youth in after-school and summer programs, getting them outside for the first time or teaching them something new to do in nature. Most of our outings are a couple hours or less, but when we build meaningful relationships with our students, we create formative outdoor experiences with memories that last more than just that afternoon.
Last month, I had the opportunity to attend a two-day Restorative Practices Training through Venture Outdoors’ partnership with Pittsburgh Public Schools. I’ll admit I had next to no idea what to expect,
» Read more about: Restorative Practices in an Outdoor Setting »
A Day a Phipps
By: Sara Cardamone
Now that Spring is finally here, so is the rain! In Pittsburgh, sometimes it can be hard to find ways to be in nature when it is rainy and muddy. However, there are tons of fun alternatives if you look hard enough! Since I’m a student at Pitt, I pass Phipps Conservatory all the time but I always felt like I never had enough time to stop in. Fast forward to now, the first big rainy day of Spring was upon us and I was struggling to find a calming activity to take my mind off of school and then it hit me.
» Read more about: Spring Inside »
By Stephanie Capilongo
“Go Outside… amidst the simple beauty of nature… and know that as long as places like this exist, there will be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be.” -Anne Frank.
The outdoors, it appears, is complicated. But it’s not. It can free your mind and give you a new appreciation for beauty. It brings things and people together, whether it’s your best friend, significant other or your cat. The people you go with mean everything. And no matter who you are or what you do, you can find joy.
» Read more about: My Mirror is the Outdoors »
By: Lo Hutelmyer, Ryan Singleton and Ty’Shay Thorton
To an educator, few things are more rewarding than witnessing a student discover his or her own passion. More rewarding still is when they show their first glimpses of leadership by taking charge to teach others about their passion.
For those of you who may know me, it’s sometimes a challenge for me to stay quiet. But when I had the opportunity to watch Ty’Shay and Ryan present at last month’s conference, I was speechless. Ty’Shay and Ryan, 7th graders from Manchester Academic Charter School, have been participating regularly on Venture Outdoors trips for two years.
» Read more about: When Youth Find their Voices »
By: La’Nell Pennington, Trip Leader Specialist
Last October, youth group members at Mount Ararat Community Activity Center in East Liberty participated in an after-school workshop with Pittsburgh’s own Group Against Smog and Pollution. (GASP).
What is air pollution? We started out by asking the children if they knew what air pollution was. All the kids raised their hands excited to give answers. After a short hike to the Larimer Community Garden, we took turns giving examples of different types of air pollution and where it comes from. The children identified pollution sources such as cars,
» Read more about: Mount Ararat Community Activity Center takes on GASP! »
By: Josh Doty of Foto-Foraging
Spring is here. If you have been hiding from the snow and cold temperatures, it is now time to venture outdoors again. There is so much to see, even if you only have a chance to go to your local park or even your own backyard.
The Nature Treasure Hunt
The Nature Treasure Hunt is a quest to explore, discover, document, learn and share (Instagram #naturetreasurehunt, #ventureoutdoors) nature with others. It is a year-long activity that will provide exercise, fresh air, strong family/friend bonding moments, opportunities to discover and learn,
» Read more about: The Nature Treasure Hunt is Here – Join Now! »
By: Iris Marzolf
My favorite Venture Outdoors program I’ve attended thus far is the Winter Tree ID hike in January at Frick Park.
It was an educational hike, so participants got a two-for-one deal—exercising while learning how to identify trees without leaves. Winter tree identification is a lot easier and more engaging than one would think. My opinion of trees in winter is generally negative; they look like dull brown skeletons. They’re all the same. Ugly.
BUT ACTUALLY trees are like people; certain types look the same, and they all have unique characteristics depending on how they grew up.
» Read more about: Winter Tree ID »
By: Maggie Zangara
On November 20, 2017, I had the opportunity to participate in an interesting training hosted by Venture Outdoors. The name of the training was Youth Mental Health First Aid, and it took place at Venture Outdoors through the Allegheny County Department of Human Services. A fun fact is that Lady GaGa, who is a first aider herself and an advocate of the program, has set a goal of getting 150,000 people trained this year.
The intent of the training was to teach family members, teachers, school staff, health and human services workers and other caring citizens how to help adolescents who are experiencing a mental health crisis.
» Read more about: Youth Mental Health First Aid »
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.
» Read more about: Rachel Carson Trails »
By: Sara Cardamone
At the Annual Volunteer Meeting, I had the opportunity to attend the Leave No Trace breakout session. Led by Joel Johnston, the interactive gathering was focused on educating participants on what Leave No Trace is truly about. Here are some of the things that I learned!
Leave No Trace was launched when attendance at parks started to increase, so much so that it was taking a toll on the environment. The mission of the organization is to “protect the outdoors by teaching and inspiring people to enjoy it responsibly”. This comes in the form of seven principles that one should keep in mind when enjoying the outdoors.
» Read more about: Leaving No Trace »