Peter Greninger likes to be outdoors. A lot.
His love for being outside is so great that when he was a college senior majoring in business at Miami University in Ohio, he convinced the dean to allow him to complete his last semester at the National Outdoor Leadership School in Wyoming.
"I basically spent three months backpacking, kayaking and sleeping under the stars," he said.
It is fitting that Mr. Greninger, 32, of Robinson, recently was elected as president of Pittsburgh Trails Advocacy Group, a volunteer group dedicated to maintaining and preserving trails in the area.
In addition, Mr. Greninger turned his love of the outdoors into a full-time career as outreach specialist at Recreational Equipment Inc.
Mr. Greninger said his family liked to spend time outdoors while he was growing up in Cincinnati and the Washington, D.C., area, but it wasn't anything extreme.
"The most outdoor-oriented activity was probably our family reunions at Ohiopyle State Park," he said.
After he graduated with his business degree in 2003, the economy was a bit shaky. He knew he still wanted to be outside, so Mr. Greninger packed his kayak under his arm and went back to Ohiopyle, where he landed a job as a river guide for the summer.
"I really just showed up and asked for a job. They told me they weren't hiring but to show up the next day and go paddling with the guides. They hired me the next day," he said.
It was time well spent. In addition to enjoying his summer job, Mr. Greninger also met his future wife, Catherine, that summer.
At the end of the season, he headed to the Boulder, Colo., area for another seasonal outdoor job -- working at a ski resort with a fellow graduate of National Outdoor Leadership School.
"It was a lot of fun, but it wasn't permanent," he said.
With his wife back in Pittsburgh, Mr. Greninger headed back to the city without a job and landed an internship with Venture Outdoors, a nonprofit dedicated to outdoor recreation. The persuasive Mr. Greninger soon turned that position into a full-time job.
"I became the outdoor program coordinator," he said.
When REI opened its first store in Pittsburgh in fall 2005, Mr. Greninger was hired as its outreach specialist. He now serves in that position, working with the organization and other like-minded environmental groups to provide education, recreation and environmental protection activities for the community.
When Mr. Greninger realized how much he enjoyed the sustainability aspect of his work, he decided to "take the next step forward" and enrolled in the master's of business administration program at Duquesne University.
"They have a program with a focus in sustainability, which is exactly what I wanted," he said. Mr. Greninger graduated in August 2012 with his MBA.
Mr. Greninger also volunteers with PTAG and was the first person to serve on the organization's board who wasn't a mountain biker.
"That is one thing we are working on -- everyone assumes we are all bikers," he said.
PTAG is dedicated to building and maintaining a formal trail system on public lands, including moving trails when necessary. The effort also includes raising funds and sponsorship for the work.
The group works with 13 parks in the region, Mr. Greninger said.
In 2012, PTAG had 297 volunteers who donated 3,150 hours. He said PTAG hopes to increase its membership and corporate sponsorship.
Kathleen Ganster, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.