Our Affiliate Scouts

Meet the Outsiders

What is a Scout?

A Scout is someone who see the world through different eyes. They go places others don’t and push themselves to experience life in ways most people can only dream about.

Scouts savor each day as an opportunity to engage with the extraordinary people and the remarkable places of this earth in surprising ways, forging and nurturing relationships along the way. From coast to coast, Scouts help our community have the raddest outdoor experiences, no matter where they are or where they may be going.

At Venku, we value the perspective of Outsiders as a key facet of the greater outdoor experience. They bring a unique vision and skillset to enjoying the great outdoors that we are passionate about.

Here they share their wisdom, experience and fierce passion for the outdoors with other members of the Venku community.

Visit Venku’s Outsiders’ profiles to discover their interests and view any opportunities they may be offering!

Patrick Ritter


O’Fallon, Missouri

Amy & Eric Kinman

Meadowlark Farms

Cuba, Missouri

Elizabeth & Cole Donelson

Switchback Kids

Saint Louis, Missouri

Fred Muursepp

Paddleboarding, Fishing, More

Tallinn, Estonia

Melissa Johanning

Womxn Who Wander

Saint Louis, Missouri

Drew Case

Beyond Seculsion

Southeast Nebraska

Zachary Heath

Mountain Biking

Salt Lake City, Utah

Erin Hansen

Hikes & Hammocks

Eastern Iowa

Patrick Ritter

O’Fallon, Missori | River King Fishing

I’ve found in recent years that overlooked, undesirable fish species located in overlooked, undesirable locales can provide your most unexpected fishing adventures.  

Our Traditionalist Fishing Scout

Although traditionalists have long stuck up their noses at the urban ponds, rivers and drainage canals that cut through city centers all across the country, a new breed of fisherman is emerging. They are individuals that are so hungry for fishing adventure, they’re willing to trade pristine streams and trophy fish for the grittier and often overlooked species (like gar and common carp) that inhabit bodies of water closer to home.

Venku Scout Patrick is one such fisherman. He is a Certified Financial Advisor who, like many, found that responsibilities at work and home prevented him from being able to travel and fish as often as he’d like.

His passion for fly-fishing was reignited after being introduced to ‘trash fish’. Since then, Patrick can be found chasing Carp all over the St. Louis metropolitan area. His quest recently prompted him to explore the river Des Peres, as chronicled humorously in his blog article “Fly-Fishing the City: A sewer runs through it“.

Patrick constantly seeks out ways to improve his craft, learn new tricks and share his love for the outdoors with others. He has pioneered several fishing communities online including River King Fishing, an online blog and Facebook community that connects like-minded anglers with gear, guide and fishing recommendations.

Live near St. Louis and want to get in on the fun? Experience the joys & perils of ‘trash fish’ for yourself during a class next Spring taught by Patrick. Learn more about how to register here. Or join the CarpSTL Fishing Club for tips on where to land your next catch.

Amy & Eric Kinman

Cuba, Missouri | Meadowlark Farms

[Venku] speaks to so many of us who are invested in living a goodlife everyday; hiking, biking, camping, farming, fishing, dining. The list could keep going. Those are just a few of our favorite things. Gear up and get ready because Meadowlark Farm bout ready to offer outdoor experiences on our working certified organic land. We figure if we’re into it you might be too. 

Our Farm Family Scouts

It’s our joy to introduce our founding Scout family: Amy, Eric and Liza from Meadowlark Farms. The natural world is central to their organic farming operation located in Cuba, Missouri, where they raise heritage livestock & poultry and grow heirloom crops.

Eric and Amy met 8 years ago at the Gasconade County Fair’s beer garden. After living all over the country, the pair decided that their combined life experience and love of adventure made them perfect candidates to return to their roots and carry on their family farming traditions in Missouri. As members of the Livestock Conservancy, the two are part of a rich tradition committed to protecting endangered livestock and poultry breeds from extinction.

What do we love about them? We look forward to seeing their portrayal of everyday life through the Meadowlark Farms account on Instagram. Amy captures simple pleasures like feeding baby goats or enjoying foraged meals but she also accurately shows the gritty, heartbreaking, and real trials of running a farm. The Kinmans recount other family adventures including mountain biking treks, farm-to-table feasts, work days at the Everyday Goodlife Co-op in Owensville, and even some yoga tips (Amy is a certified instructor)!

Want to experience a day on the farm? Join the Kinmans at their farm for a hand-selected picnic lunch (featuring all locally-grown meats and market items). Learn more about their growing processes, get hands-on with the livestock and meet the littlest Scout, Liza

Elizabeth & Cole Donelson

Saint Louis, Missori | Switchback Kids

The concept of hosts sharing their most beloved outdoors resources really resonates with me and outdoor experiences are so much richer when they are done in the context of personal interaction and a community like Venku. 

The National Parks Scout Family

In 2014 Cole and Elizabeth of the Switchback Kids had a crazy idea to visit all 59 National Parks in one year. Throughout 2015 they worked, saved, sold stuff, planned, budgeted, quit their jobs and finally were ready for a journey that would take them from sea to shining sea.

By 2016, the pair were ready to embark on their quest. Using a combination of tent camping, crashing with friends and family, overnights in Walmart parking lots and just a handful of nights (7 to be exact) in a hotel,

they made their way across America. During their year-long mega-trip, the couple visited every National Park (even those in Alaska and Hawaii!), all while keeping within a $20,000 budget.

Readers can learn more about the Switchback Kid’s cross-country trip on their blog, podcast, and social media platforms (Facebook and Instagram). You’ll not only find a comprehensive breakdown on gear and how to plan a National Parks visit, but you’ll also get some great tips on frugal travel, camp life, how to plan for a day of hiking and other hard-earned wisdom.

Despite checking off every box on their National Parks bucket-list, the couple is still passionate about travel and perfectly embodies the millennial generations’ desire for collecting experiences and  memories, rather than stuff. On their website they write, “We want to help our peers realize the endless beauty and adventures waiting in the national park sites in their backyards.”

Although the pace of their travels have slowed somewhat in the past few years, Elizabeth and Cole still take trips quite frequently and are now embarking on a totally new kind of adventure — parenthood. The Switchback Kids just welcomed the newest addition to their team in June and look forward to experiencing many new destinations together as a family.

Click here to listen to a podcast where they talk about a trip to Azores and mention Venku!

Fred Muursepp

Tallinn, Estonia | Paddleboarding & Fishing

I joined Venku to show people there is more to life than just TV / apps and internet. We have so many beautiful places and things to do and see. Just go outside and find something you love..or let someone help you discover something new.

Venku’s Paddleboarding Scout

Fred was one of the very first people to sign up for Venku. We quickly learned more about him and his love of adventure through his incredible Instagram feed.

During the summer, Fred teaches Stand-up Paddleboarding (SUP) at Surftown, a surf club on

Stroomi Beach in Tallinn. He gets so much satisfaction from teaching people a new sport, but his main goal is to help them slow down and learn to connect with nature. He says, “When I bring people on the sea, I teach them how to handle gear and just enjoy the moment. It doesn’t matter if the sea is rough with big waves, or really calm. They just smile and don’t have a care in the world.”

When he isn’t on the beach, Fred is an avid fisherman. Estonia is home to many types of trout — both Seatrout and Rivertrout — as well as pike and salmon. A quick view of Fred’s Instagram account shows that he is an all-weather fisherman, even fishing in freezing temperatures amid an icy landscape. However, during a month in the Fall (from October – November), Fred goes from fishing for trout to protecting them.  He and a group of friends volunteer their time to protect trout and salmon spawning in Estonian rivers from poachers who steal their valuable eggs to sell them.

Because of Fred, Venku has been to an active volcano in Bali, and continues to be included on his adventures both on and off the water. Perhaps there will be a Venku experience in Estonia sometime in the near future…we know Fred would make the trip worthwhile!

Melissa Johanning

Saint Louis, Missori | Womxn Who Wander

I love the variety of [Venku’s] outdoor related posts.

Our Inclusive Team Hiking Scout

Melissa is founder of the women’s hiking group Womxn Who Wander that serves St. Louis and the surrounding region. Her primary goal with the group is “to help ladies in the St. Louis area get out and explore the beauty of the Midwest.” Although starting the group has been her biggest accomplishment, Melissa has definitely experienced some ups and downs with the process. “I suffer from social anxiety so taking the leap and leading a group that brings womxn from different communities together to explore the midwest has been more of a mental challenge than a physical one.”

Aside from hosting group hikes with Womxn Who Wander, other favorite activities include hiking and

canoeing / kayaking with her husband. One of her favorite hikes over the years was the Narrows in Zion  National Park. She described the experience as giving her such a rush… “The cold water, not knowing what was beneath my feet, and the sun hitting the wet rock so perfectly that it looked gold.”

While she mostly advertises her hikes and meet ups through Instagram, Melissa wants to start leading hikes with Venku. Check back soon to see her listings!

Drew Case

Southeast Nebraska | Beyond Seclusion

I joined Venku because of Murielle, her passion for the outdoors and her business. Customer service is something I hold VERY high and I love the business model and customer service of Venku.  They are going to be the NEW Airbnb for us that like the outdoors!

Our Ammo Expert & Teaching Scout

Drew’s business, Beyond Seclusion, had its beginnings about 10 years ago, when he and his wife decided to create a weekend getaway. They found 120 acres in Southeast Nebraska and built a cabin there. After spending so much time at the cabin, and enjoying every minute, they decided to build a home on the property and live there full time. And from there the dream of building a business around their passion for hunting and outoords began. They’ve never looked

back. The goal of Beyond Seclusion is to share the love of the outdoors with a wide audience. From shooting, hunting, fishing, wildlife education, and rasing animals to anything related to living in the country, Drew is passionate about it all.

This is evident in his Youtube channel where you’ll find videos he has published on a variety of topics, including life on the farm, fishing, gun & ammo reviews, and helpful outdoor tips. He loves teaching and welcomes the opportunity to share his wisdom and insights when it comes to hunting, fishing, shooting and life in general.

Learn more about Drew by visiting his Venku profile and book one of his listings for a Turkey Hunting Package or Cabin Getaway with hiking, fishing and wildlife viewing to spend a little time in the paradise he’s created.

Zachary Heath

Salt Lake City, Utah | ORBEA Bikes

I joined [Venku] in hopes to be inspired and to inspire. There are many outdoor opportunities and hopefully Venku will break down barriers and open doors for access.

The Mountain Biking Scout

Zach (@fruitsnackzach) is a public health professor by trade and an adventurer at heart. An accomplished mountain biker, he works with ORBEA bikes as 1 of 4 USA based riders, RideHiFi and SquidBikes to promote MTB and the sport of cycling in general. 

His past experience also includes coaching the Hong Kong national cycling champion and the 6th ranking inline skater for the women’s division. 

Now, he enjoys fly-fishing and trekking over every corner of the world, and capturing his unique expeditions through social media.

Zach has been involved with Venku from the start, providing key feedback in the platform’s early stages and always keeping the Venku Instagram feed flush with original content featuring his incredible outdoor experiences. Someday maybe you’ll get to book Zach for a MTB adventure through the platform…but until then view his Venku profile to learn more or follow where life’s journey takes him on his Instagram!

Erin Hansen

Eastern Iowa | Hikes & Hammocks

“This is legit a dream of mine. To lead hikes and expeditions within the Midwest. The fact that I can say I will get paid to hike while getting people outside and teaching others how to go about hiking and backpacking is unreal for me. “

Venku’s Wilderness Adventurer Scout

Erin is a hiker and Wilderness Badass ambassador. She proudly advocates for the Midwest and firmly believes that you don’t have to be on one of the coasts to find magical, untouched locations to explore. She’s a Scout because she wants the chance to connect with others who love the outdoors and hiking as much as she does. View her blog post on how to find some cool places to hike in the heartland, and click above to check out her Venku profile. There you’ll find more about Erin, how to follow her on Instagram  and a way to contact her if you’re ever in her neck of the woods and want to get outside!

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Inspired by our affiliate scouts to enjoy and embrace the great outdoors? Start your Venku journey today.

The wildnerness is calling.

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