Amanda (Mandy) Revak she/her
Youth 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’ve lived in Western PA almost my whole life, growing up in the Mon Valley. I went to Bucknell University to pursue a degree in Animal Behavior (I originally intended to be the next Jane Goodall…), and returned to the Pittsburgh area after graduation to work with teens at the Pittsburgh Zoo and then to coordinate therapeutic programs and summer camp at Animal Friends. My position at Venture Outdoors allows me to combine my passion for informal and outdoor education with my personal love of being outdoors.
2. Describe your role at Venture Outdoors in 10 words or less. I get kids learning and exploring outside.
3. What does “getting outside” mean to you? Engaging with the natural world any way possible. Exploring. Observing. Experiencing. I live for a beautiful view and find peace in moving away from human noise and into the liveliness of a natural ecosystem.
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 love to go hiking. I’ve found some amazing places and seen some amazing things just by following a trail to see where it goes.
5. What is the craziest thing you have done? Ha! I don’t consider myself as someone who does crazy things, but the fact that I had a very hard time narrowing down my list of possibilities might suggest otherwise. Let’s see…not sure if this is crazy but it certainly is unusual…I lived in a forest monastery in Thailand with Buddhist monks once.
6. What are your top five favorite outdoors/travel destinations?
1. Far North Queensland, Australia
2. Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina
3. North Rim of the Grand Canyon
4. Yellowstone National Park near Gardiner, MT
5. Etosha National Park, Namibia
7. What is your favorite forest/camping snack? Anything cooked in a cast iron pan over a campfire.
8. Name three people in history (dead or alive) with whom you would want to take on a Venture Outdoors program of your choice. Dr. Jane Goodall, Dr. Brene’ Brown, and Mr. Rogers
9. What is your favorite Venture Outdoors memory? (or newbies: What are you looking forward to most?) I am very much looking forward to getting kids outside and watching them learn new skills and do things they’ve either never done before or thought they couldn’t do.
10. Describe your dream Venture Outdoors program/outing. I’d love to be able to take a group of teenagers on an overnight camping and hiking adventure.
11. What is the earliest memory you have of being outside? Playing in the backyard of the house that my family shared with my grandparents when I was a young child. It was on a little hill directly overlooking the Monongahela River, with wooden stairs that went right from the backyard down to the riverbank.
12. What would the title of your autobiography be? “Outside My Comfort Zone, Well Within My Abilities”
13. Any hidden talents? My brain weirdly holds on to song lyrics, so I generally can sing all of the words to a ton of songs, particularly 80s-90s jams.
14. What is your favorite song (or album) right now? Sara Bareilles has a live album (Brave Enough) that is generally my go-to feel-good pick-me-up playlist
15. What is your biggest challenge nowadays? Having enough time for all of the things that are important to me: family, work, and adventures.