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!

Posted in Uncategorized

OUTDOOR News

  • The Forty Sixers Club

    May 15, 2018

    By: Sara Cardamone

    In July of 2016, Sophie was looking to try something new. She had already planned to get away from the world for a while and decided to head to her grandparent’s house in upstate New York. Surrounded only by the sights and sounds of nature, it was the perfect place for her to relax and truly spend time with herself. As the end of the school year approached, her grandpa sent a message to her and her sister mentioning a club that he had heard a bit about called the Forty Sixers Club. The club was centered in the Adirondacks and the only way to get in is to reach all 46 high peaks in the mountain range. 

     » Read more about: The Forty Sixers Club  »

  • The Beautiful Truth behind Kayak Pittsburgh

    May 8, 2018

    By: Stephanie Capilongo 

    Stephanie helps secure at PFD on a toddler “We’re not selling an object, but rather an experience.”

    Once a fashion major, I relied on material things to give me comfort. I have long forgotten that outlook and believe the experiences I have had in the outdoors is what has given me confidence to encourage others to do the same.

    Throughout the last two years of working at Kayak Pittsburgh I realized how the things you’re passionate about can also be your job. Maybe it’s the constant dose of Vitamin D or the eager customers. Regardless, there is never a dull moment.

     » Read more about: The Beautiful Truth behind Kayak Pittsburgh  »

  • To Fish or Not To Fish

    May 1, 2018

    By: Patrick Panasko  

    Fishing Along North Shore

    “Raise them on the water with a fishing pole, not in the house playing video games” 
    -Bill Dance. 

    When you see the North Shore of Pittsburgh you see sports stadiums where big catches are made by professional athletes. The sport of fishing can offer a more valuable catch to kids and adults alike. Over the past 16 years Venture Outdoors has hosted TriAnglers Lunch Time fishing. 

    Many inner city youth and adults do not get the chance to go fishing and enjoy the pleasures of it. 

     » Read more about: To Fish or Not To Fish  »

  • Restorative Practices in an Outdoor Setting

    April 24, 2018

    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  »

  • Spring Inside

    April 17, 2018

    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  »

Kayak Pittsburgh

Sunset Paddle

Kayak Pittsburgh North Shore is closed this weekend, May 19 – 20. Visit us at North Park!

#KeepPittsburghPaddling


Featured Outing

TriAnglers Lunchtime Fishing
Every Wednesday
11:30 AM – 1:30 PM

Come help us celebrate Pittsburgh’s clean rivers and great fishing opportunities right here in downtown Pittsburgh. Bait and equipment provided for FREE.

SIGN UP HERE!