Kelly Sarkis she/her
Assistant Manager of Youth Programs
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 Nazareth, PA in the Lehigh Valley. I attended the University of Pittsburgh, studying biology and anthropology. I came to Venture Outdoors as a Youth Program Intern to figure out if a career in youth outdoor education was something I wanted to do with my life (and it is!). I then became an Outdoor Educator, and now I’m here!
2. Describe your role at Venture Outdoors in 10 words or less.
I help Outdoor Educators with resources to get kids outside.
3. What does “getting outside” mean to you?
Breathing fresh air! Whether it be sitting outside reading, going on a walk or floating on the water. This allows me to appreciate the beauty that nature is.
4. If you had to pick only one recreational activity to practice for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
I would hike or backpack—it’s one in the same right? It’s amazing to see how far our own feet can take you, and you can see some amazing sights.
5. What is the craziest thing you have done?
I hiked 50+ miles of the Appalachian Trail in crocs.
6. What are your top five favorite outdoors/travel destinations?
Anywhere in the Swiss alps
The Whites in New England
The PCT (maybe thru-hike someday…)
Anywhere spending time with my family
7. What is your favorite forest/camping snack?
Dried fruit, especially dried mangos! I just got a food dehydrator and I’m so excited to use it.
8. Name three people in history (dead or alive) with whom you would want to take on a Venture Outdoors program of your choice.
Ellen Degeneres, Queen Elizabeth, and Sally McRae . They are all pretty rad women who I would love to talk to and learn more from on a hike, maybe ending with some proper English Tea. I just want to pick their brains.
9. What is your favorite Venture Outdoors memory?
I was recently at an outreach event where I taught students different fire structures. After an hour or so there, I was getting tired of teaching the same thing over and over and over again. One kid came up, I taught him how to make an A-frame, and he goes “You know, you taught me something new today.” Never again will I get tired of repeating myself because each kid deserves the opportunity to learn something new.
10. Describe your dream Venture Outdoors program/outing.
I would love to take kids backpacking! There are pretty sweet hikes just outside of Pittsburgh, which would get kids away from the city and challenge them in something new.
11. What is the earliest memory you have of being outside?
I always remember being outside as a kid, so I can’t figure out which came first. My favorite memory is when my family would go camping with my neighbors out at Hickory Run State Park (I think?). We all brought our bikes and just rode around the place, made forts, and had way too many s’mores. It was such a blast just roaming around nature.
12. What would the title of your autobiography be?
Trying to Find Happiness
13. Any hidden talents?
In high school I worked with alpacas, and was Reserve Champion at one of the largest shows in the nation, so I can spit (pun intended) alpaca facts at you. One fun fact is that alpacas poop in one pile so their predators have a more difficult time tracking them down in the Andes Mountains.
14. What is your favorite song (or album) right now?
This switches day-to-day, so anything that isn’t overplayed on the radio.
15. What is your biggest challenge nowadays?
Deciding what to eat for dinner.