Parks and Recreation Senior Lecturer Stephen Espiner and Associate Professor Emma Stewart are delighted with the return of the unique major, which the University offered from 2008 to 2014, as they say it will help to meet a greater demand for skilled workers in the sector.
“The study of parks and outdoor recreation is critical to the management of the planet’s resources,” says Dr Espiner. “Parks and protected areas have great cultural and economic significance in New Zealand and internationally.”
Dr Espiner says more jobs for qualified graduates are opening up in the sector due to central government’s pledge to invest $76m in infrastructure for the Department of Conservation as part of a $178m tourism infrastructure package.
Recent recreation sector research also concludes that a greater number of skilled workers is required in the field, and the Lincoln major is the only one of its kind available in New Zealand.
“There are no other university degrees where students can study the specialisation of parks and outdoor recreation,” says Dr Stewart.
“Other universities offer individual courses that deal with related aspects of parks, outdoor recreation, nature-based tourism and outdoor education, but there has been no development of a coherent suite of courses in this important area.”
The re-introduction of the qualification has also been endorsed by industry, with the Parks Unit of Christchurch City Council saying they would “welcome a larger pool of qualified people in this area available to fill various park planning and management roles”.
“Christchurch has a growing population and an increasing number of parks to manage.”
A senior parks planner at the Selwyn District Council says the major is “a critical component of meeting our future parks and recreational planning needs”.
“Council is of the belief that there is real value in the continued offering of a qualification in parks and outdoor recreation at the undergraduate level, particularly as Lincoln University is local to Selwyn.”
The private sector also has an increasingly important role in delivering outdoor recreation experiences within parks settings. A senior manager of Christchurch’s Adventure Park says “finding people with the passion and enthusiasm for industry is one thing but it is often difficult to find suitably qualified individuals”.
“This major would go a long way to making the outdoors a viable career field.”
The major in Parks and Outdoor Recreation aims to give a comprehensive programme to students who want to complement degrees in areas such as sport and recreation, tourism management, nature conservation and environmental planning.
DOC offers scholarships to talented students
The Department of Conservation (DOC) is also providing a boost to the discipline from 2018 by offering a number $5000 scholarships to talented Lincoln Bachelor degree students undertaking the major.
DOC is looking for qualified individuals who can think and plan strategically for tourism on a landscape scale. DOC is also interested in graduates with multi-disciplinary skills in general management, working with iwi, whanau and hapu, visitor and facilities management and partnering skills to help DOC work with others to grow conservation.
To qualify for one of these scholarships, students will need to have a good academic record, as well as aspirations of working in the conservation, parks, outdoor recreation or related fields. Additionally, they are expected to provide evidence of active participation in this area.
Successful applications will need to report on their progress, meet with the sponsor and attend sponsor meetings at the request of Lincoln University.
* Applications for the Department of Conservation Parks and Outdoor Recreation Scholarship close 15 February 2018. More information and application details are available from the Lincoln University website at www.lincoln.ac.nz/scholarships