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Outdoor Recreation

Outdoor Recreation is a fast-growing and popular field in the U.S. and around the world. For more than a century, the number of people who participate in outdoor recreation and who seek an outdoor experience has steadily increased, as has the number of agencies (private, public, governmental, and nonprofit) offering outdoor recreation programs. This trend is projected to continue in the future. The field of outdoor recreation has developed over this period of time, providing outdoor recreational professionals a body of knowledge, leadership, proper planning, certifications, and respect for the environment through a display of outdoor ethics.

The Outdoor Recreation degree program is designed to provide you with a strong foundation in the liberal arts and sciences. You will also develop a foundation of camp, outdoor education, and outdoor recreation leadership skills and knowledge required to be an effective and competent outdoor leader and outdoor educator. Once you complete this program, you will be prepared for transfer to an outdoor-related baccalaureate degree program, and to work effectively and safely in the field.

Degree Requirements

Field Experience

Field experience is an exciting and important component of the outdoor recreation program. Beginning with your first year, you will be participating in a team challenge course, and will be encouraged to take several outdoor activity skill classes. As you progress through the program, additional leadership, programming, and outdoor field experiences will be a vital aspect of your study. You also will be given opportunities to plan and lead outdoor experiences for agencies in your community.

Through the College's partnership with the Inclusive Recreation Resource Center, students in Outdoor Recreation will also have the opportunity to receive certification as a “Certified Inclusivity Assessor (CIA)” through the NYS-IRRC.

Students who complete the class Outdoor Pursuits and Practices (RECR274) will be recognized by the Leave No Trace organization as authorized to teach Leave No Trace Awareness courses.  


While the curriculum of this program is designed primarily for transfer to a bachelor’s degree program, it provides skills directly applicable to entry-level positions in the outdoor recreation field. Students in this major also pursued jobs such as Camp Director, Outdoor Guide, Outdoor Educator, Park Ranger, High Ropes Coordinator, and Nature Center Staff.

Get more information about recreation careers and salaries through the National Recreation and Park Association's recent web report, or explore more careers related to all of the Recreation programs. 

Learn more about related jobs: 

Program Chairs




When I was completing my undergraduate degrees in Recreation, Outdoor Management, and Leisure Commercial Management at Lock Haven University, I stumbled across a sign while rock climbing during spring break at Seneca Rocks in WV. It read, “Here ends the Realm of the Hiker...” As an Outdoor Educator and Associate Professor, I heed the message from this sign as I help people overcome their own challenges to experience something greater or more intense in the field of Recreation and Leisure Studies.

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Patty Tvaroha








Associate Professor, Human Services

Patty Tvaroha is a proud alumnus of Tompkins Cortland’s Human Services program. After graduating from Tompkins Cortland in 1998, Patty transferred to SUNY Cortland to become the first student to complete the two plus two articulation agreement and earn a BS in Human Services.

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Transfer Options

Outdoor recreation leaders who have earned a bachelor’s or master’s degree are more likely to be offered higher-level management positions. Possible transfer options in outdoor-related bachelor degree programs are offered by:

  • SUNY College at Cortland
  • Green Mountain College
  • Ithaca College
  • Lock Haven University
  • Penn State University



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