15 QUESTIONS WITH JOANNA LEMMON, OUR PROGRAMS 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 grew up on a sheep farm in Washington, PA. I went to Penn State University and got a five-year degree in Landscape Architecture. I moved to Baltimore and practiced Landscape Architecture for three years, all the while falling in love with volunteering and the outdoors through Sierra Club’s Inner City Outings. During that time I also fell in love with a guy who lived in Boston. I moved to Boston and took a job with Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) working with city youth and youth workers getting them outdoors camping, backpacking, hiking, and canoeing. I spent eight years at AMC, first as an instructor and then eventually as Assistant Director of the program. My now husband took a job in Pittsburgh in October. We moved back here. I googled “outdoor organizations in Pittsburgh”, found Venture Outdoors and here we are!
2. Describe your role at Venture Outdoors in 10 words or less.
I have two roles.
Venture Outdoors Again Coordinator. My job is to do outreach and programming to the 50+ population of Pittsburgh and to create on online resource to keep them coming outdoors on walks.
Outdoor Educator. To get the youth of Pittsburgh to love the outdoors through our programming.
3. What does “getting outside” mean to you?
It’s basic. Put on some sturdy shoes and appropriate clothing and literally step outside. Find a bench, a park, a cool street to walk down and breath good air, soak up something other than a screen. Reset. And if you really love it, strive for more adventure, try something new, join an outdoor group and grow your idea of the outdoors.
4. If you had to pick only one recreational activity to practice for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
Sea kayaking. You get to see the ocean in a way that no one else can. You can get up close to things that you can’t in a larger boat. You can find your own private beach or island to picnic and camp on. It always feels like an adventure and in some way very luxurious if you do it right.
5. What is the craziest thing you have done?
I jumped off a cliff once in Switzerland. I thought that was crazy until I had a baby last year; then I realized what crazy is.
6. What are your top five favorite outdoors/travel destinations?
Croatia, Norway, anywhere on the coast of Maine, Montreal in the winter, Allegheny National Forest.
7. What is your favorite forest/camping snack?
Snickers bar. The only time I ever eat them.
8. Name three people in history (dead or alive) with whom you would want to take on a Venture Outdoors program of your choice.
The Obamas, Therese Rocco, Teddy Roosevelt, Jimmy Falon, Jim Gaffigan
9. What is your favorite Venture Outdoors memory? (or newbies: What are you looking forward to most?)
I am looking forward to more Fit with the Physician Walks.
10. Describe your dream Venture Outdoors program/outing.
A four-day backpacking trip on the North Country Trail.
11. What is the earliest memory you have of being outside?
In my front yard on a windy day with an umbrella trying to fly like Mary Poppins. I was probably four or five years old.
12. What would the title of your autobiography be?
When Life Gives You Lemmon’s: The Misadventures of Joanna Lemmon
13. Any hidden talents?
I can do a split and a round off. But not a back hand spring (biggest regret).
14. What is your favorite song (or album) right now?
15. What is your biggest challenge nowadays?
Apparently I suffer from “baby brain.”