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University Of Arkansas Joins Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, Marking Launch Of New Education Memberships 

Washington, D.C. – Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR) announced a new partnership with the University of Arkansas’ Outdoor Products and Services Program, housed within the Department of Strategy, Entrepreneurship, and Venture Innovation at the Sam M. Walton College of Business. ORR recently established new membership categories — “Education Member ” and “Preferred Academic Partner” — designed to foster closer collaboration between academic institutions and the outdoor recreation industry. The University of Arkansas joins the University of Denver’s Leadership in the Outdoor Recreation Industry and Oregon State University’s Center for the Outdoor Recreation Economy as academic members of ORR.

The University of Arkansas program is dedicated to preparing students for the burgeoning outdoor economy in Northwest Arkansas, focusing on creating new ventures, fostering internships, networking, and project-based learning opportunities. This initiative aligns with ORR’s mission to support the outdoor recreation industry’s growth and ensure a skilled workforce is ready to meet its evolving demands. 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.

“The University of Arkansas is at the forefront of preparing students to thrive in the outdoor recreation economy, which is why it is a natural fit to welcome them to ORR as an Education Member. 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,” said Chris Perkins, Vice President of Programs at Outdoor Recreation Roundtable. “This partnership underscores our commitment to developing a robust workforce strategy that supports the outdoor recreation economy’s dynamic needs.”

“The University of Arkansas is all in on outdoor recreation, as evidenced by our recent launch of the Greenhouse Outdoor Recreation Program (GORP), an outdoor industry incubator program; the Outdoor Industries Certificate in the Walton College of Business; and an Outdoor Leadership Minor in the College of Education and Health Professions,” said Matthew Myers, Program Manager for the Outdoor Products and Services program in the Sam W. Walton School of Business at the University of Arkansas. “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. Partnering with ORR is another step in preparing students to be leaders in the industry here in Arkansas and across the country.”

“We’re thrilled to welcome the University of Arkansas into the fold of the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable,” said Katherine Andrews, Director of the Arkansas Office of Outdoor Recreation. “Their unwavering support within the outdoor ecosystem has propelled us forward, and this partnership will undoubtedly further amplify our collective impact in the robust outdoor recreation economy in The Natural State.  With the university’s commitment, we’re ecstatic to see outdoor recreation elevated to new heights in education and beyond.”

ORR’s introduction of the “Education Member” and “Preferred Academic Partner” categories in 2023 reflects a desire for closer alignment between industry and academic and trade schools as identified by workforce development research throughout the past year. Through this membership, the University of Arkansas will gain access for its leaders and students to ORR’s network of recreation associations, state offices of outdoor recreation, and businesses. This initiative offers immersive opportunities for students to gain relevant career experience before graduation, ensuring a more seamless transition into the outdoor recreation workforce.

Academic and trade programs interested in joining ORR and contributing to the outdoor recreation industry’s future are encouraged to reach out to orr@recreationroundtable.org for more information on membership eligibility and benefits.

About Outdoor Recreation Roundtable

The Outdoor Recreation Roundtable is the nation’s leading coalition of outdoor recreation associations representing the more than 110,000 outdoor businesses in the recreation economy and the full spectrum of outdoor-related activities. The most recent data from the U.S. Department of Commerce shows that outdoor recreation generated $1.1 trillion in economic output (2.2% of GDP), 5 million jobs and comprises 3.2% of U.S. employees.

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