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Amy O’Neill

Director of Development and Communications

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 100-acre farm in Butler County, PA, where I spent most of my time on a horse, in the creek, or under a tree reading a book. I worked for a veterinarian’s office and volunteered with a local wildlife rehabilitator throughout high school, and my major at Kent State University was pre-veterinary medicine. I worked in the field of wildlife conservation for more than 20 years, and eventually found myself writing grants, coordinating volunteer opportunities, and building partnerships. Most recently, I served as the Director of Development for Allegheny CleanWays and Friends of the Riverfront.  I have always loved the outdoors, wildlife, wild spaces, and adventure. I came to Venture Outdoors to help others access meaningful outdoor experiences and connections.


2. Describe your role at Venture Outdoors in 10 words or less. 

I tell stories, build partnerships, and support the team.


3. If you had to pick only one recreational activity to practice for the rest of your life, what would it be and why? 

 Paddling, I just want to be in, on, or near the water.


4. What are your top five favorite outdoors/travel destinations? 

1. Allegheny River
2. Clarion River/Cook Forest
3. Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario Canada
4. Rupununi savannah and wetlands, Guyana
5. Alaska


5. What is your favorite forest/camping snack? 

 Goldfish crackers


6. Name three people in history (dead or alive) with whom you would want to take on a Venture Outdoors program of your choice. 

 My grandfather, Alexis Nikole Nelson (blackforager on Instagram), and Rachel Carson


7. What is the earliest memory you have of being outside? 

Walking along the Allegheny River with my grandfather popping the seed pods on what he called “Johnny Jump-Ups”.  (I later discovered these plants are more commonly known as jewelweed or Impatiens capensis.)


8. Any hidden talents? 

I’m not sure if reading is a talent, but it is what I do best!


9. What is your favorite song (or album) right now? 

My all-time favorite album is The Judge at His Best, by Milt Hinton.


10. What is your biggest challenge nowadays?

Not working to much! Sometimes I just forget to take a break.

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