Outdoor Recreation and Leadership

In the Outdoor Recreation and Leadership concentration students gain academic skills to organize, lead, and evaluate a variety of outdoor adventure programs.  Through coursework, the students will be exposed to a variety of adventure activities such as: backpacking, outdoor living skills, rock climbing, kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding, ropes course facilitation, orienteering and caving. Academic courses are experiential in nature and emphasize leadership development with attention to risk management, environmental literacy, facilitation techniques, teaching methods and program management.  

Our History

Outdoor Recreation and Leadership encompasses a rich tradition at Radford University beginning in 1967 when the first campcraft class was offered.  In 1981, the curriculum shiften to an outdoor leadreship preparation curriculum focused on adventure-based programming.  In 2012, it became the first accreditated program in the U.S. through the Wilderness Education Association.  To maintain accreditation the program undergoes review every seven years and maintains a current vision, mission and goals for student academic success.  Current faculty seek numerous opportunities for students to grow and learn.  

Career Opportunities 

There are diverse career opportunities in Outdoor Recreation and Leadership.  This includes: state and national parks, resorts, outdoor education agencies, municipal parks, youth agencies and much more.  

Outdoor Recreation and Leadership Highlights:

  • The program focuses on development student outdoor leadership skills through experiential learning and the outdoor industry's best practices
  • A variety of courses are offered the provide experiential, hands-on, applicable learning
  • Students earn a variety of nationally and skill related certifications

Concentration Requirements (21 credits)

Those wishing to complete the outdoor recreation and leadership concentration must complete the following requirements. Click on this link to access the requirements for current  Recreation, Parks and Tourism and the Outdoor Recreation and Leadership concentration curriculum

For Academic Plans by catalog year click here

Minor in Outdoor Recreation and Leadership

For students who are interested in gaining skills in Outdoor Recreation and Leadership who are not in the Recreation, Parks and Tourism program we offer a minor.  To enroll in the minor you must first apply and be accepted into the program.  For directions on how to apply click here.  

For more information regarding the program contact Dr. Anja Whittington.

*Special Note:  All students in the Outdoor Recreation and Leadership program will have additional fees and personal equipment requirements.  For a list of these requirements please click here


Students have the opportunity to obtain a number of certifications that are integrated into the course work for the concentration and minor. Students will receive the Leave No Trace Trainer Certificate when enrolled in the Outdoor Living Skills class. Another opportunity exists to obtain Wilderness First Responder (WFR) training through SOLO. Upon successful completion WFR, the student will receive a national certification recognized by all potential employers. Students will receive their Project Learning Tree certificates to strengthen their ability to teach a variety of environmental education topics. Successfully completing both ropes course classes affords students the ability to earn their level 1 and level 2 RU ABLE challenge course facilitator certifications. These in-house certifications allow the student to become a lead facilitator for our challenge course program.

Campus Resources

You will be able to build technical skills and leadership abilities. For example, you may be employed through RU Outdoors, the adventure programming component of campus recreation. Many of our students serve as trip leaders for RU Outdoors or facilitate the indoor climbing wall located in Peters Hall.

RUABLE, an experiential learning lab, offers ropes course experiences, team building activities, and adventure-based trips for people of all abilities and ages. Through RU ABLE, you can operate an indoor and outdoor high ropes course and state-of-the-art helix climbing tower on the RU West Campus. This facility serves as the primary classroom for two classes Ropes Course Programming and Advanced Ropes Course Programming. You work your way from an apprenticeship level to senior facilitator.

Radford University operates the Selu Conservancy, which is located fifteen minutes from the main campus and provides a variety of outdoor and environmental opportunities. Selu has 380 acres of forest and grasslands and is named after the Cherokee Grandmother Corn Spirit. Outdoor Recreation students have participated in the construction of several trails, and operate a low ropes course for Selu guests.


Meet the Faculty

Mark Wagstaff, a professor of recreation, parks and tourism, enjoys teaching his students how to be quality experiential educators.