A Natural Fit: U of A Joins Outdoor Recreation Roundtable

U of A outdoor leaders say the school is "all in" on outdoor recreation thanks to burgeoning program and academic offerings that are preparing students to be leaders in the recreation economy.
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U of A outdoor leaders say the school is "all in" on outdoor recreation thanks to burgeoning program and academic offerings that are preparing students to be leaders in the recreation economy.

The U of A has joined the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, the nations' leading coalition of outdoor recreation associations, giving faculty, staff and students access to ORR's vast network of recreation associations, state offices of outdoor recreation and businesses. 

U of A will join ORR as an "education member," which will create a partnership providing students with immersive opportunities that will prepare them for life in the recreation economy, according to a news release. U of A joins two other institutions — the University of Denver and Oregon State University — as education members. 

ORR represents more than 110,000 outdoor businesses in the recreation economy and the full spectrum of outdoor-related activities. It is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and works to promote the growth of the outdoor recreation economy and outdoor recreation activities. 

"Partnering with ORR is another step in preparing students to be leaders in the industry here in Arkansas and across the country," said Matthew Myers, manager for the Outdoor Products and Services program in the Sam M. Walton College of Business. 

Myers added that U of A is "all in" on outdoor recreation, pointing to school's burgeoning program and academic offerings for the industry: a startup incubator called the Greenhouse Outdoor Recreation Program (GORP), the Outdoor Industries Certificate in the Walton College of Business and an outdoor leadership minor in the College of Education and Health Professions. 

"These programs, along with the existing infrastructure, including the UREC Outdoors shop and soft surface trails through campus, are geared to make the University of Arkansas one of the top destinations for students interested in outdoor recreation, all right in the heart of the Ozarks." 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Arkansas' outdoor recreation economy generated $4.1 billion in 2022 (2.5% of state GDP) and 43,422 jobs. Data from 2021 showed top industries included boating/fishing, RVing, hunting/shooting/trapping, equestrian and motorcycling/ATVing. 

U of A was a "natural fit" for ORR because the school is at the "forefront of preparing students to thrive in the outdoor recreation economy," said Chris Perkins, vice president of programs at Outdoor Recreation Roundtable. 

"Their Outdoor Products and Services Program is poised to make significant contributions to our industry, especially in transforming Northwest Arkansas into a hub of outdoor innovation and entrepreneurship," Perkins said.  

"This partnership underscores our commitment to developing a robust workforce strategy that supports the outdoor recreation economy's dynamic needs." 

About the University of Arkansas: As Arkansas' flagship institution, the U of A provides an internationally competitive education in more than 200 academic programs. Founded in 1871, the U of A contributes more than $2.2 billion to Arkansas' economy through the teaching of new knowledge and skills, entrepreneurship and job development, discovery through research and creative activity while also providing training for professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the U of A among the few U.S. colleges and universities with the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the U of A among the top public universities in the nation. See how the U of A works to build a better world at Arkansas Research News.  

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