Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR), the nation’s leading coalition representing the $862 billion outdoor recreation economy, is proud to announce the University of Denver’s Leadership in the Outdoor Recreation Industry (LORI) program as a new Preferred Academic Partner with the intention of training and developing more leaders in the outdoor recreation industry.

“This is a really exciting moment for ORR,” said Jessica Wahl Turner, President of ORR. “We work with each of our members to address the biggest challenges and opportunities facing the outdoor recreation economy and know that our partnership with the University of Denver will help us create a better environment for businesses and recreationists alike for years to come. From growing the industry’s workforce to increasing equity in access to the outdoors, we look forward to working with DU to support the next generation of outdoor recreation industry leaders and the businesses and customers ready to work with them.”

The University of Denver’s LORI program launched in early 2023, thanks to a $3 million grant from The VF Foundation, and will offer coursework across three academic units—the Daniels College of Business, Sturm College of Law, and Josef Korbel School of International Studies. The fully online curriculum of focused, one-credit “Sprint” courses is designed for existing and emerging leaders in the industry, allowing them to receive tailored workforce development and professional education. With today’s announcement, University of Denver becomes the second Preferred Academic Partner of ORR, along with Oregon State University’s Center for the Outdoor Recreation Economy. This distinction provides students with expanded access to ORR’s programs and network.

“We are grateful to partner with the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable and are excited to pair our unique, interdisciplinary graduate-level program with ORR’s premier network of national outdoor recreation industry leaders,” said Chris Castilian, Senior Executive Director of LORI. “Together we can ensure DU’s professional education offerings align with the needs of the industry and provide growth opportunities for students—whether they are branching into a new career, or simply looking to grow in their current outdoor-focused organization.”

“VF is a longtime partner of the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR) and The VF Foundation is excited to see the University of Denver join forces with ORR to foster both emerging and seasoned leaders in the thriving outdoor industry,” said Gloria Schoch, Senior Director of VF Corporation and Executive Director of The VF Foundation. “By offering targeted VFF scholarships for underrepresented students coupled with leveraging ORR’s expansive network of stakeholders across the public and private sectors, this collaboration will further amplify our commitment to fueling an inclusive and diverse workforce that extends beyond VF’s walls.”

Like all industries, the long-term success of outdoor recreation depends on well-trained, highly skilled, creative and passionate professionals. DU is playing an important role in the development of the outdoor recreation workforce, demonstrating to universities that students are interested in careers in the outdoor recreation industry, which supports urban and rural economies and helps Americans all across the country benefit from time spent outdoors.