Exploring the Landscape of Careers: What to do With a Degree in Outdoor Recreation

Posted: June 24, 2024 | Author: Kevin Koontz | Read Time: 4 minutes

Two people are rowing a boat on a lake. In the background is a forest.Embarking on a career path with a Bachelor of Science in Outdoor Recreation, Parks, and Tourism (ORPT) from Southern Utah University (SUU) opens a gateway to a world where work is synonymous with passion. As the “University of the Parks,” SUU provides students with not only a comprehensive education but also an immersive experience in outdoor recreation and tourism. Graduates emerge equipped with practical outdoor skills and academic knowledge as well as a deep appreciation for nature and adventure. Listed below are just some of the career opportunities awaiting those with this specialized degree.

1. Park Ranger/Naturalist: If you relish the great outdoors and are passionate about conservation, becoming a park ranger or naturalist is an ideal choice. With a focus on preserving natural habitats and educating the public, graduates can work in national or state parks, national forests, wildlife refuges and nature centers. Duties may include leading guided hikes, conducting educational programs and enforcing park regulations.

2. Outdoor/Environmental Education: Outdoor and environmental educators inspire future generations to appreciate and protect the planet. These educators play a vital role in fostering environmental stewardship and outdoor skills. They organize and lead outdoor expeditions, adventure camps, and educational workshops for schools, youth groups and community organizations. Whether working in a school, nature center or museum, this career path will allow you to combine your love for nature with teaching and leadership skills, all while advocating for positive change in your community.

3. Adventure and Eco-Tourism: Thrill-seekers and outdoor enthusiasts can channel their passion into a career as an adventure tourism guide. Whether leading whitewater rafting trips, rock climbing expeditions, backpacking adventures or challenge course facilitation, guides provide participants with unforgettable outdoor experiences while ensuring their safety. This dynamic role offers opportunities for travel and exploration in diverse environments around the globe.

With a growing emphasis on sustainable travel, ecotourism specialists play a crucial role in promoting responsible tourism practices. Graduates can work for tour operators, resorts or government agencies to develop and implement eco-friendly tourism initiatives. From designing low-impact itineraries to promoting cultural exchange with local communities, this career path will allow you to make a positive impact on both the environment and society.

4. Recreation Resources: Recreation resource managers are tasked with overseeing the planning, development and maintenance of outdoor recreational facilities. Whether working for government agencies, non-profit organizations or private companies, they ensure that parks, trails and recreational areas are sustainable, accessible, safe and well-maintained. This career combines elements of environmental management, urban planning and community development.

5. Event Coordination: For those with a flair for organization and creativity, a career as an event coordinator in the outdoor recreation and tourism industry offers endless possibilities. Whether organizing outdoor festivals, adventure races or eco-tours, coordinators bring people together to celebrate and experience the wonders of the natural world. This role requires strong logistical skills, attention to detail and the ability to create memorable experiences for participants.

6. Outdoor Retail: Outdoor retail specialists work in shops and with outfitters that cater to outdoor enthusiasts. Whether selling or renting gear, apparel or equipment, they provide customers with expert advice and assistance to enhance their outdoor experiences. This career path offers opportunities for individuals to stay connected to their passion for the outdoors while helping others gear up for their adventures.

7. Wilderness Therapy: This growing field combines therapeutic practices with outdoor adventure to help individuals, often adolescents and young adults, overcome personal challenges and mental health issues. As wilderness therapy practitioners, graduates can work for specialized therapy programs and organizations that offer structured outdoor experiences designed to promote personal growth and healing. These specialized guides lead participants through activities such as hiking, camping and team-building exercises, providing both clinical support and outdoor education. This career path requires a strong foundation in psychology and counseling, along with expertise in outdoor skills and safety. Working in wilderness therapy allows individuals to make profound impacts on the lives of others by fostering resilience, self-esteem and a deeper connection to nature.

A Bachelor of Science in Outdoor Recreation, Parks, and Tourism (ORPT) from SUU is a passport to a diverse range of career opportunities in the dynamic and ever-expanding outdoor recreation and tourism industry. Whether working as park rangers, adventure guides or environmental educators, graduates have the chance to turn their love for the outdoors into a fulfilling and impactful career. With SUU’s emphasis on experiential learning and hands-on training, students are well-prepared to embark on a journey where work and passion converge amidst the breathtaking landscapes of the natural world.

Tags: Outdoor Recreation Student Career and Professional Development

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