Amanda Westerlund she/her
Fishing Program Manager
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 am a Pittsburgh native and went to Serra Catholic High School and Duquesne University where I earned a B.S. in Biology. At 16 years old I started interning/volunteering for the Pittsburgh Zoo. I became a Marine Mammal Care Professional/Trainer after college, working alongside amazing animals like elephant seals, polar bears, sea otters, sand tiger sharks, and sea lions. At Water’s Edge I also managed our internship program and was an officer for the Pittsburgh Chapter of the American Assoc. of Zoo Keepers. Recently, I had become primary for gorillas, and swing for Islands/Jungle Odyssey sections.
I came to Venture Outdoors to share my love of animals, the outdoors, and our environment with youth, young adults, and our community throughout the Metro Pittsburgh area. While a big change from being in the wildlife care field for 16 years, this unique opportunity to manage the pilot of the Pittsburgh First Catch program and work for such a fantastic organization was exactly where I was hoping to move next in my career. Who can say no to getting to fish, kayak, and go kayak fishing for their job!
2. Describe your role at Venture Outdoors in 10 words or less.
Creating memorable experiences outdoors while fishing and kayaking.
3. If you had to pick only one recreational activity to practice for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
Fishing – so many ways to fish! Plus, you can be kayaking at a lake, standing in a creek, or sitting in the sand at the ocean. The possibilities are endless.
4. What are your top five favorite outdoors/travel destinations?
1. South Shore, Vik, Iceland – Such drastic landscapes2. Zion National Park, Utah – red rocks for days 3. Ocean City, Maryland or North Carolina – family trips full of memories 4. Coastal California – elephant seals and sea lions! 5. Namibia – Otjiwarongo and Swakopmund– sand dunes and cheetahs
5. What is your favorite forest/camping snack?
Fresh fruit, especially strawberries
6. Name three people in history (dead or alive) with whom you would want to take on a Venture Outdoors program of your choice.
Paul Nicklen (wildlife photographer, videographer), Betty White, and Joel Sartore (wildlife photographer)
7. What is the earliest memory you have of being outside?
Running around our backyard in the summer between swimming and harvesting cucumbers from our garden.
8. Any hidden talents?
Ceramic wheel thrown pottery and sewing
9. What is your favorite song (or album) right now?
The Struts – Could Have Been Me
10. What is your biggest challenge nowadays?
Switching from one very specific career to something new. It is exciting and sometimes a little stressful.