Outdoor Recreation Leadership and Management | PHRP | SIU

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Outdoor Recreation Leadership and Management

“Don’t let a classroom define your education.”

Within SIU’s Department of Public Health and Recreation Professions, the Outdoor  Recreation Leadership and Management emphasis is focused on preparing high quality emerging professionals equipped with the knowledge and experience to become competent outdoor educators and wilderness leaders who can apply their skills in diverse groups and environments. To accomplish this, the curriculum in­tegrates academic work and field study, providing a balanced foundation of theory, technical skills, and hands-on experience. The human, educational, and technical outdoor skills developed through this academic emphasis are integrated throughout multiple experiential learning opportunities critical for students seeking to develop a competitive edge.

Red rocking hiking Swing

Coursework Requirement

This emphasis focuses on skills necessary to manage or administer programs, facilities and lands in the local, state, and federal park system.

Theory Core (6 hours)

  • REC 500 – Modern Concepts of Leisure
  • REC 508 – Trends and Global Issues in Leisure Services

Theory Electives (6 or more hours)

  • REC 501 – Personnel in Leisure Services
  • REC 502 – Revenue Production for Leisure Services
  • REC 503 – Managing and Marketing Leisure Services
  • REC 525 – Recreation for Special Populations

Research Methodology Core (3 hours)

  • REC 550 – Research in Recreation (or EPSY 505, 533, or WED 561, HED 526, PSYC 593, KIN 592)

Research Core (9-10 hours)

  • EPSY 402 - Basic Statistics  OR
  • EPSY 506 - Inferential Statistics
  • REC 599 - Thesis   OR
  • REC 575 - Project (plus a 3-hour elective course)   OR
  • REC 596 - Graduate Internship (560 hours)

Emphasis (6 hours)

  • REC 445 – Outdoor Recreation Management
  • REC 475E – Adventure Programming

Elective Hours (3 or more hours)

  • REC 426 – Outdoor Adventure Land Based Pursuits
  • REC 429 – Planning, Logistics, & Risk Management in Outdoor Recreation
  • REC 430 – Outdoor Living Skills
  • REC 431 – Expedition Leadership
  • REC 434 – Wilderness First Responder
  • FOR 420 – Park and Wildlands Management
  • FOR 421 – Recreation Land Use Planning
  • FOR 423 – Environmental Interpretation
  • FOR 470 – Wilderness Management, Policy, and Ethics
  • SOCW 531 – Psychological Disorders
Develop skills in leadership, group dynamics, com­munication, experiential education, program ad­ministration, risk management, and environmental awareness in a variety of outdoor settings.


Learn not only from books but also the land. Establish a strong outdoor skill set in paddling, backpack­ing, rock climbing, challenge course  facilitation, and expe­dition leadership to safely and effectively manage adventure as a tool for education.

In addition to coursework exploring the theory and philosophy of outdoor recreation and education, students graduating from this program benefit from a broad variety of integrated, hands-on field experiences that provide an opportunity to obtain valuable certifications that are essential for competitive professional placement and advancement​ such as Wilderness First Responder, Wilderness Education Association Outdoor Educator, and Leave No Trace Master Educator.

Academic and field-based coursework fulfills the 6 core competencies of the Wilderness Education Association allowing our graduates the opportunity to pursue certification through the WEA as a Certified Outdoor Enthusiast, a Certified Outdoor Leader, or a Certified Outdoor Educator.

Upon completion of the degree, students should qualify for direct leadership, supervisory and ad­ministrative positions within a wide variety of pro­fessional settings, including city recreation and park departments; state and federal parks and protected areas; youth services agencies; residential camps; nonprofit civic and religious organizations; colle­giate outdoor pursuits programs; high adventure and guide services; and traditional outdoor schools such as Outward Bound and the National Outdoor Leadership School.

Rock climbing camping

Outdoor Recreation graduates qualify for positions within a wide variety of professional settings including:

  • City Recreation & Park Departments
  • State and National Parks & Protected Areas
  • Youth Services Agencies
  • Residential Camps
  • Nonprofit Civic & Religious Organizations
  • Collegiate Outdoor Pursuits Programs
  • High Adventure & Guide Services
  • Traditional Outdoor Schools
  • Outward Bound
  • The National Outdoor Leadership School
  • And More...

Partnerships include the Wilderness Education Association (WEA), the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, the Association for Experiential Education (AEE), the Association for Outdoor Rec­reation and Education (AORE), the USDA Forest Service, the Illinois Department of Natural Resourc­es, SIU’s Touch of Nature Environmental Center, and Camp Ondessonk.

Located on the northwestern edge of the Shawnee National Forest, the SIU campus is a perfect launching point for a wide variety of outdoor adventures.

Paddling Camp food

Reasons to join the SIU Recreation Outdoor Recreation Program:

  • Dedicated faculty committed to excellence in teaching.
  • Small classes.
  • Community is at the core of every experience.
  • Field based learning -from paddling down a winding river to climbing in sandstone canyons or backpacking on remote wilderness trails, recreation classes often meet beyond the classroom.
  • Experiential Education -our educational philosophy emphasizes self-direction and learning by doing.
  • Environmental Values -our curriculum fosters critical thinking and encourages an ethic of personal responsibility and environmental stewardship.
  • Ideal Location -Southern Illinois is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise.
  • You’ll have Fun!