Who We Are

Upstate FORT is a culmination of experiences with youth, families, adults, and adventure for Beth Venable and Drake McNeary. Together they have a combined fifty years of developing programs or experiences aimed at educating, inspiring, or healing.

Beth Venable, MS, LPC/I left Florida for a the bright lights of New York City right out of college. During this time she learned how powerfully the arts integrate with education to create multiple opportunities for learning. Returning to the southeast as a theatre teacher, she made her way to the South Carolina upstate and discovered experiential education could mean the outdoors as well as the arts. Working for a therapeutic boarding school, she found programming integrating the arts, the outdoors, and struggling families could bring about a world of healing. These peak experiences with families discovering hope and healing prompted her to return to school for a graduate degree in counseling. In addition to developing and growing Upstate FORT as its executive director, Beth now works as a licensed professional counselor using evidence based methods to work with clients in traditional and adventure therapy modalities.

Originally from Missouri, Drake McNeary’s first professions were teaching and software training. His passion for outdoor recreation combined with his experience as an educator and he made his way to the southeast in the mid-90’s to teach kayaking and canoeing, guide rafts, and mountain bike. He currently teaches mountain biking for Clemson University in Leisure Skills, as well as coaching for the local Issaqueena Composite Mountain Bike Team. Drake’s interest in safely introducing folks to adventure sports is mirrored by his commitment to community service and development. He currently serves on the City of Clemson’s Planning Commission and is a board member for the Green Crescent Trail – a forward-thinking infrastructure solution for the cities of Clemson, Central, and Pendleton as population grows. Drake’s primary role at Upstate FORT is program development and instruction.