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Venture Outdoors Receives Workplace Innovations Award

Venture Outdoors was honored to receive the Innovations Workplace Award by Mental Health America of Southwestern PA. This award is presented to an organization that demonstrates outstanding promotion of mental health and wellness within their workforce, provides insight and willingness to offer reasonable accommodations for persons with psychiatric disability, and experiences low employer turnover as the result of job satisfaction.

A community partner nominated Venture Outdoors because they saw first-hand that we promote mental health and wellness for our team through human-centered work culture and benefits. As in our youth and community programs, we encourage our staff to use outdoor physical movement and connection to nature to support their wellbeing. Staff members often incorporate walking, hiking, running, cycling, meditation, kayaking, and more into their workday/meetings. Recognizing the mental and physical load of our summer seasons, we also provide two four-day mental health shutdowns annually at the head and end of busy season. On these days, no programs are scheduled so that all staff can completely unplug from work.

Additional staff benefits include:
• Free annual Calm App subscriptions
• 100% covered physical and mental health care benefits
• Hybrid, work-from-home and in-office/field, work schedule
• 10 floating holidays (scheduled on days of importance, as valued by individual staff members), as well as vacation and sick days

Promoting belonging and inclusion is of the utmost importance to comfort and wellbeing. Our Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion regularly provides exercises during staff meetings to help folx center and ground themselves. Our team collaboratively agrees on and recognizes moments of observation – recognition days/months, including Mental Health Awareness Month in May, that provide an opportunity to learn from each other and community partners. We provide an employee resource sharing area for book recommendations, staff celebrations, and a place to share upcoming community gatherings/outings.

“It’s very unique what they do. There’s lots of literature and science-based evidence that being outside and being in nature improves mental health.” ~ Laurie Barnett Levine, LSW – Chief Executive Officer at Mental Health America of Southwestern PA

Read more about the 2024 MHA Innovations Awards in The Daily Courier.

Thank you, Mental Health America of Southwestern PA for acknowledging our dedication to mental wellness in the workplace. Congratulations to all the awardees!


Shown are MHA-SWPA CEO Laurie Barnett Levine, awardees John Herrmann, Jean Slusser, Jim Galik, Bobby Tanyer, Valerie (Hill) Beichner and Doug Muetzel.



Amy O'Neill

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