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Outdoor Recreation and Education

Low Ropes
The OHIO Challenge Course

The Outdoor Recreation & Education major, housed within Parks, Recreation, and Leisure Studies, is designed to prepare students for career opportunities in the field of outdoor recreation and education. The program blends traditional classroom and field-based learning opportunities to create a unique educational experience for students in the major. Students develop foundational knowledge related to the discipline that focuses on recreational programming, administration, and evaluation. In addition to these key content areas, students develop technical proficiency in various outdoor adventure pursuits, expeditionary and wilderness travel experience, leadership and teaching ability that can be applied in a wide variety of professional contexts.

General topic areas in the program include outdoor leadership, environmental interpretation, parks and protected areas management, ecotourism, and adventure programming.  Students can earn a number of professional certifications and certificates through academic coursework in the program.

Why OHIO's Outdoor Recreation and Education Program?

  • The Parks, Recreation, and Leisure Studies Program is nationally accredited by the Council on Accreditation for Parks, Recreation, and Tourism and Related Professions (COAPRT). 
  • The Outdoor Recreation and Education program combines both traditional classroom experience with hands-on learning that aims to enhance students’ employability and connect students with outdoor recreation and education organizations within the industry. 
  • Nearly 100% of OHIO Outdoor Recreation & Education majors find employment within the Outdoor Industry post-graduation. Employers of OHIO alumni include the National Parks Service, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, U.S Forest Service, Outward Bound, NOLS, Alaska Geographic, YMCA, Camp Joy, Garden of the Gods (Colorado), Scouting USA, Naturalists At Large, Adventure Treks, Columbus Metro Parks, and many more!
  • The Outdoor Recreation Industry continues to grow rapidly. The industry represents a significant economic sector that has resulted in 5.2 million U.S jobs and generates $788 billion in consumer spending each year (Outdoor Industry Association).  
  • OHIO’s location in Athens, Ohio offers students a scenic and college town experience that provides year-round recreational opportunities that includes hiking, backpacking,  bouldering, mountain-biking, standup paddle boarding, canoeing, and camping.
  • Located in a region rich with outdoor and adventure recreation opportunities, the Parks, Recreation, and Leisure Studies program is in close proximity to nationally renowned areas for mountain-biking (Bailey’s Trail System; 8 miles), hiking (Hocking Hills State Park; 37 miles) as well as climbing and whitewater paddling (New River Gorge National Park; 149 miles).
  • The Parks, Recreation, and Leisure Studies program requires a 400 internship experience. Internship sites have included camps, national parks, state parks, forest service areas, YMCAs, parks and recreation departments, Outward Bound, wilderness therapy organizations, outdoor education centers, commercial outfitters, guide services, and ecotourism resorts. 

Career Opportunities    

  • Recreation Planner
  • Adventure Coordinator
  • Environmental Educator
  • Education Program Coordinator
  • Interpretive Guide
  • Camp Executive Director
  • Municipal Program Director
  • Ecotourism Resort Manager
  • Outdoor Recreation Entrepreneur 
  • Outdoor Recreation and Education Specialist 
  • Campus Recreation Outdoor Programs Director

Program Requirements

View the Course Catalog entry for detailed requirements and curriculum.

Completion of a minor or certificate is required. View all minors.

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For more information, contact:

Dr. Andrew Szolosi
Program Coordinator, Recreation Studies
McCracken Hall 202L