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Outdoor Recreation and Education

About the Program

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(opens in a new window)). 
  • 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(opens in a new window)).  
  • 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(opens in a new window); 8 miles), hiking (Hocking Hills State Park(opens in a new window); 37 miles) as well as climbing and whitewater paddling (New River Gorge National Park(opens in a new window); 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

Graduates from the Outdoor Recreation Recreation and Education major are prepared to lead and excel in their profession!

Example Job Titles:

  • 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
Council on Accreditation Logo

The Parks, Recreation, and Leisure Studies program is accredited by the Council on Accreditation for Parks, Recreation, Tourism, and Related Professions (COAPRT).

As accrediting body, COAPRT is accredited by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).COAPRT standard 2.05.05 requires programs to report aggregated data and additional evidence reflecting program academic quality and student achievement. Results for the most recent academic year (AY 2020-20121) follow:

  • Outcome 1 from Standard 7.01: Obtain a richer understanding of procedures and techniques commonly utilized for the assessment of leisure needs.
  • Outcome 1 Assessment Method: As a culmination of students’ efforts in conducting a needs assessment on a local recreation and leisure organization, students produce a comprehensive facility plan. The following project requires that students gather data from multiple sources and research the type of facility that characterizes their partner organization. With the data garnered, students interpret the results, create a set of recommendations for their partner organization, and create a comprehensive facility plan report. The comprehensive facility plan report serves as one indicator of students’ comprehension of the stated learning outcome.
  • Outcome 1 Result: In 2020, 89% of students scored a 73% or higher on the assignment. The overall mean grade earned by students for the assignment was an 84.1%. 
  • Outcome 2 from Standard 7.02: Understand inclusive practices as they apply to the design and operation of recreation programs, services and facilities.
  • Outcome 2 Assessment Method: Students must develop and submit a program plan that reflects an original inclusive recreation program that is at least two hours in length. Evaluation of the program plan occurs through a designated rubric that draws from specific required assignment components. 
  • Outcome 2 Result: In 2020, 90% of the students scored at or above 73% on the assignment. The overall mean grade for the assignment was an 81%. 
  • Outcome 3 from Standard 7.03: Identify a variety of resources involved in managing recreation facilities that can assist a facility in becoming more financially and environmentally sustainable. 
  • Outcome 3 Assessment Method: To meet the following learning outcome, students carry out a basic energy audit that evaluates energy consumption. Reviews of this type have become an important evaluative tool for recreational organizations that are looking to reduce their energy consumption and achieve a certain level of cost savings. Students' efforts involve obtaining building demographic information, collecting energy usage data for a two-week period, calculating utility costs for current light sources and energy-efficient alternatives, and a payback period for proposed changes. 
  • Outcome 3 Result: In 2020, 75% of students scored at or above 73% on the assignment. The overall mean grade for the assignment was an 84%.

CHEA requires accredited institutions to inform the public about "degree and accreditation mills." Cautions concerning these are summarized in a video that can be viewed on the CHEA website.

According to CHEA, degree mills and accreditation mills mislead and harm. In the United States, degrees and certificates from mills may not be acknowledged by other institutions when students seek to transfer or go to graduate school. Employers may not acknowledge degrees and certificates from degree mills when providing tuition assistance for continuing education. "Accreditation" from an accreditation mill can mislead students and the public about the quality of an institution or program. In the presence of degree mills and accreditation mills, students may spend a good deal of money and receive neither an education nor a useable credential.

For more information

Dr. Andrew Szolosi
Program Coordinator,
Parks, Recreation, and Leisure Studies
Patton College of Education
Patton Hall 202L
Athens, OH 45701