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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. 
Mission, Vision and Core Values

Mission Statement 

The mission of the Parks, Recreation, and Leisure Studies program is to enrich people’s lives by promoting excellence in the delivery of recreation and leisure services. The program will accomplish this mission through effective undergraduate and graduate education, research and scholarship, and service to the university, community, and profession.  

Vision Statement 

 The Parks, Recreation, and Leisure Studies program aspires to be a global leader in the preparation of recreation and leisure services professionals and scholars.  Such leadership will be distinguished by its interdisciplinary emphasis and its role in defining state-of-the-art practices, enriching our communities through model outreach programs and activities, and advancing scholarship that informs policy and practice. 

Program Core Values  

 The Parks, Recreation, and Leisure Studies program relies on a set of core values to guide the program as it strives to fulfill its mission and vision. These values include a commitment to:  

  1. Research, scholarship, and creative activity that informs policy and practice.  
  2. Strong undergraduate education that involves opportunities for learning both inside and outside of the traditional classroom.  
  3. Advising, mentoring, and personal interaction among faculty and students that enhance the educational experiences of students in the program. 
  4. Cultivating an appreciation for cultural and social diversity inspires students to advocate for social equity and justice through their work as practitioners in the field.
  5. Consideration of the perspectives and needs of various constituent groups and stakeholders in making decisions about the direction of the program.  
  6. Assessment, planning, decision-making, and continual improvement. 
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 an 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 2022-2023) follow:

  • Outcome 1 from Standard 7.01: Students will be able to identify and apply procedures and techniques commonly utilized for the assessment of leisure needs.
  • Outcome 1 Assessment Method: As a culmination of students’ efforts in REC 4450: Research and Evaluation, students submit a comprehensive program evaluation plan. Students partner with a local recreation agency to develop an evaluation plan for one of the programs offered by their partnering agency. Development of the evaluation plan includes collecting background information on the agency, identifying program objectives, establishing clear methods for data collection and data analysis, and designing an evaluation tool that targets programmatic outcomes. The program evaluation plan serves as one indicator of students' comprehension of the stated learning outcome.
  • Outcome 1 Result: In 2022, 100% of students scored a 73% or higher on the assignment. The overall mean grade earned by students for the assignment was a 78%. 
  • Outcome 2 from Standard 7.02: Students will be able to understand and apply inclusive practices to the design and operation of recreation programs, services and facilities.
  • Outcome 2 Assessment Method: Working in small groups or as an individual, students create a program plan for an inclusive recreation activity program/session/series highlighting the needs of a particular identity marker that has been discussed in the course (age, race, ability, gender, sexual orientation, religion etc.). Regardless of their selection, all activity plans must include adaptations and plans for those individuals with physical disabilities and accessibility needs.
  • Outcome 2 Benchmark: 75% of the students will get a score of 73% or higher on the assignment.
  • Outcome 2 Result: In 2022, 89% of the students scored at or above 73% on the assignment. The overall mean grade for the assignment was an 90%. 
  • Outcome 3 from Standard 7.03: Students will be able to apply skills and practices critical to the strategic planning process, including the development of mission, vision, values, goals, action plans, and evaluation. 
  • Outcome 3 Assessment Method: To meet the following learning outcome, students develop a comprehensive programming plan. For the following project, students create 11 weeks of programming including a week for set up and a week for clean-up in one of three areas: 1) a summer camp 2) a regional sports facility, or 3) a community recreation center. Final projects are pitched to a panel of professionals and assessed a proportion of available points in rank order.
  • Outcome 3 Benchmark: 75% of the students will get a score of 73% or higher on the assignment.
  • Outcome 3 Result: In 2022, 100% of students scored at or above 73% on the assignment. The overall mean grade for the assignment was an 84.3%.
  • Outcome 4 from Standard 7.04: Students will gain valuable practical hands-on work experience aimed at enhancing students’ knowledge and skill at the program delivery, supervisory, and executive levels of the parks, recreation, and tourism field.
  • Outcome 4 Assessment Method: Students submit a professional internship portfolio containing artifacts that support the completion of identified internship goals and objectives. Goals and objectives, developed in conjunction with the site supervisor, reflect key areas related to administration, program planning. supervision, and community and public relations.
  • Outcome 4 Benchmark: 75% of the students will get a score of 73% or higher on the assignment.
  • Outcome Result: In 2022, 100% of the students scored at or above 73% on the assignment. The overall mean grade for the assignment was a 90%.

Parks, Recreation, and Leisure Studies – COAPRT Annual Report 

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 usable credential.


For more information

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