Getting to Know our Staff: Fifteen Questions with… Lora Woodward

By: Grace Eggleston, Communications Intern

We are continuing our staff spotlight series. 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 Lora Woodward, our 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 Harrisburg, PA on a four-acre property across from my grandparents’ farm. My mom ran a plant nursery, and my dad worked at the Navy Depot. I moved to Pittsburgh in 2001 to attend the University of Pittsburgh. While in school, I became super involved in the Pitt Outdoors Club where I organized whitewater kayaking, rafting, and canoeing trips and learned how to rock climb and cave. In previous jobs, I’ve sold sea kayaks in Maine, pulled invasive plants on an air force base in Wyoming, re-routed a section of the Appalachian Trail in the Smokies, and was a teaching intern at an international school in Thailand. I started at Venture Outdoors in 2007 as the Public Program Coordinator and have been here ever since!

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

All I do is meet meet meet no matter what!

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

Having a fun, educational, and/or social experience in the out of doors. Whether it is an urban walk, a backcountry hike, a lake paddle, or going to your favorite sit spot, “getting outside” is choosing the outdoors as a place to spend time.

4. If you had to pick only one recreational activity to practice for the rest of your life, what would it be and why? 

Tandem canoeing. I had no idea what an art form it is. There is such finesse behind each stroke. I grew up whitewater canoeing and we just muscled through the rapids. Now I see it as a balance.

5. What is the craziest thing you have done? 

Traveled alone for three months in Ecuador. It was the most challenging and rewarding experience of my life.

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

I’ve been to some amazing places around the world: Milford Sound, New Zealand; Galapagos Islands, Ecuador; Machu Picchu, Peru; Chiang Mai, Thailand; Angkor Wat, Cambodia.

7. What is your favorite forest/camping snack? 

GORP (granola, oats, raisins and peanuts) along with some chocolate chips!

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

Betty White, Rachel Carson, Jimmy Fallon

9. What is your favorite Venture Outdoors memory? 

Borrowing Venture Outdoors’ snowshoes during Snowmageddon 2010 and hiking through the Hill District and Downtown Pittsburgh with my partner Casey while all the streets were covered in two feet of snow!

10. Describe your dream Venture Outdoors program/outing. 

Having a group of participants walk separate directions into the woods, find a spot that calls to them and sit watching, listening, and feeling nature’s concentric rings, and then being called back together for a campfire circle where we can share stories of our experiences.

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

I’ll say hiking the Knife’s Edge on Mt. Katahdin in Maine when I was 12.

12. What would the title of your autobiography be? 

Just Do It!

13. Any hidden talents? 

I used to play roller derby for Steel City Roller Derby. YINZ! YINZ! YINZ!

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

Smoky Mountain Memories, Dolly Parton

15. What is your biggest challenge nowadays? 

Seeing all of my ideas through to fruition—it takes a lot of work to enact a vision!

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OUTDOOR News

  • Rediscovering Nature beneath the Soles of My Sneakers

    May 16, 2017

    By: Cheyenne Knight

    When I signed up for my first half marathon, I vowed to train entirely outdoors. I knew that climbing on a treadmill day after day to stare at the same patch of grass, the same residence hall, and the same students walking to class for four months of training would take all the fun out of it.

    So I vowed to train outdoors, even if that meant enduring weather that I never ran in and exploring parts of Pittsburgh that I never saw before. I took it as an opportunity to challenge myself mentally, physically,

     » Read more about: Rediscovering Nature beneath the Soles of My Sneakers  »

  • A Letter from a Kayak Pittsburgh Supervisor

    May 9, 2017

    By: Neal Monaghan

    Well opening day wasn’t what we were hoping for – the weather forced us to remain closed. We’re thinking positive thoughts about this upcoming weekend, hoping the Pittsburgh weather cooperates so yinz can get on the water! Kayak Pittsburgh will be open on weekends only until the season kicks into gear on Memorial Day. Our North Park and North Shore locations will be open in May, and the Aspinwall Riverfront Park location will follow shortly after the season gets up and running. This is an exciting time for staff, Venture Outdoors members, and our casual customers.  

     » Read more about: A Letter from a Kayak Pittsburgh Supervisor  »

  • 2017 Season

    May 2, 2017

    Kayak Pittsburgh 2017 Season

    We are just a few days away from the start of our 2017 Kayak Pittsburgh season and we can’t wait to see you on the water! We pride ourselves in giving you the best customer service, instruction, and on-water experience in the ‘Burgh so over the last few months we’ve been doing a lot of behind-the-scenes work to prepare for our best summer yet! Remember to follow us on social media for all of the latest information on weather conditions, hours, and promotions.

    Kayaking1

    Check out what’s new this year!

     » Read more about: 2017 Season  »

  • My Favorite Venture Outdoors Outings

    April 25, 2017

    By: Grace Eggleston, Communications Intern

    As an intern at Venture Outdoors I am able to participate in a lot of awesome outings. Over the past eight months I have tried just about everything from long distance hikes and wakeup paddles to geocaching and nature photography walks. (The cool thing, though, is that after all this time there are still programs I have yet to try!)

    I count myself lucky that I get to go on these outings and take pictures of all the awesome people I meet and the exciting things we see along the way.

     » Read more about: My Favorite Venture Outdoors Outings  »

  • Favorites from the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour

    April 18, 2017

    By: Grace Cooper

    Whether a comedy, a thriller, or a heartwarming film, there was something for everyone at this year’s Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour. 

     

    This year was my first festival — and definitely not my last. I’ve seen my share of outdoor adventure documentaries, but these films were different. They weren’t just educational; they told a story. As a volunteer at the event, I had the opportunity to talk with a lot of people at the festival about their favorite films of the weekend. So, although all the films were absolutely incredible,

     » Read more about: Favorites from the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour  »

Kayak Pittsburgh

Get your 2017 Season Pass!

All three locations open this weekend, May 27-28.

Featured Outing

 Washington Whiskey Walk
Sunday, May 21
12 – 3 PM

Join us for a day in Washington, PA. We’ll start with an easy walk through Washington & Jefferson College Campus Arboretum with Dr. Jason Kilgore while learning about the arboretum and trees role in the historic whiskey making process. Afterward, we’ll visit Liberty Pole Spirits, Washington’s newest distillery for a tour and tasting.

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