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 a small city called Clairton about 18 miles outside of the city of Pittsburgh. I graduated from what was then Clairton High School – Home of the Clairton Bears! Nearly nine years ago, my family suffered the loss of one of our young teenagers to leukemia that was totally devastating for me. I was not working during that time in order to help with his and my father’s care. I knew I was in emotional trouble after the loss, but I was also taught to never quit moving. I stumbled upon Venture Outdoors during my job search and have been here ever since.
2. Describe your role at Venture Outdoors in 10 words or less.
The glue that keeps it all together!
3. What does “getting outside” mean to you?
It means putting aside, on a regular basis, everything that makes me me inside the walls of my house and getting outside to see and marvel at the masterpiece God has created that makes us us. That’s where our real home 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?
It would be kayaking. There’s nothing that feels more serene and liberating.
5. What is the craziest thing you have done?
I refuse to answer that on the grounds that it may incriminate me . . .
6. What are your top five favorite outdoors/travel destinations?
There are just too many to choose from . . .
7. What is your favorite forest/camping snack?
Nothing beats a great-big-fat-fingerlickin-sticky-burnttoacrisp MARSHMALLOW! Mmmmmm!
8. Name three people in history (dead or alive) with whom you would want to take on a Venture Outdoors program of your choice.
It would be the great Indian Chief Geronimo, my Indian grandfather, and my parents. They were all great teachers of the land, air, and water.
9. What is your favorite Venture Outdoors memory?
Kayaking on a Members’ Day at North Park Lake with a massive electrical squall quickly coming up behind me as I was leisurely paddling toward the dock. I was so enthralled with my glide, that my mind never even entertained the thought that the people standing on shore waving their arms and shouting, “Look behind you!” played a vital part of my existence. I never even wondered why I was the only one on the water. As I’ve said before – LIBERATING!!!
10. Describe your dream Venture Outdoors program/outing.
Taking a 27-mile kayaking trip on the Kiskiminetas River. Nice!
11. What is the earliest memory you have of being outside?
I grew up with five sisters and one brother. It was mandatory for us to go outside every day in every season – or die! But the memory that stands out the most would probably be during “Adolescence” – with me and my twin sister FINALLY being allowed to ride our bikes on a different street! It got better as we got older. We knew every road in town by the time we graduated high school.
12. What would the title of your autobiography be?
A Time to Take, Remember, and Give
13. Any hidden talents?
Well, we were never allowed to go hunting, but to name a few . . . I can fish (as long I don’t have to touch the bait), cook and bake from scratch, draw in detail, sew, write, crochet, strip-stain-and build “stuff”, and sing.
14. What is your favorite song (or album) right now?
Jazz Artist: Boney James in FutureSoul
15. What is your biggest challenge nowadays?