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Public Lands & Recreation Administration

Public Lands & Recreation Administration Program

Public Lands & Recreation Administration (PLRA) is the public and nonprofit administration of agencies and organizations that use public lands and/or recreation programs and services as tools to achieve individual, community, environmental, and economic outcomes. The Public Lands & Recreation Administration Program is an innovative course of study that prepares students to work in a variety of settings, such as: municipal, city, county, township, park district, state, and national park systems & public land management agencies; nonprofit public lands partners, park foundations, friends groups, conservancies, & associations; as well as conservation and outdoor recreation centers, military bases, correctional facilities, and public housing. 

Public lands include parks, forests, prairies, nature preserves, wildlife refuges, fish & wildlife areas, historic sites, historical sites, lakeshores, seashores, rivers, and ocean environments.

This program produces leaders across Indiana in municipal, city, county, township, state, and national park systems and public land management agencies.  Our graduates go on to substantial leadership roles in the Indiana Park and Recreation Association and the National Recreation and Park Association, which are the state and national professional associations for public administrators of public lands and recreation systems.

In the Public Lands & Recreation Administration Program, students will:

  • Identify historical events, key people & organizations, and impactful public policies that influenced the development of public lands and associated management agencies in Indiana and the United States.
  • Compare and contrast the varying missions and outdoor recreation management strategies of different federal, state, and local public land management agencies.
  • Explain how outdoor recreation fits within the missions of public land management agencies.
  • Evaluate nonprofit master plans, comprehensive plans, and strategic plans of public land management agencies
  • Examine the anatomy and core functions of strategic partnerships with nonprofit public lands partners, park foundations, friends groups, nature & history associations, conservancies, and associations.
  • Identify current issues, challenges, and trends facing public land management and recreation professionals.
  • Apply principles of volunteer engagement to maximize volunteer involvement and mission impact in public lands and nonprofit supporting organizations.
  • Research and contribute to the planning, implementation, leadership, and evaluation of culturally competent, equitable, inclusive, and accessible recreation programs and services to intentionally achieve individual (e.g., health outcomes), community (e.g., reduce juvenile crime & delinquency), environmental (e.g., improve air quality), and economic outcomes (e.g., ecotourism, agritourism, proximate principal for residential home values and EAV).
  • Engage respectfully with individuals and groups that may have diverse perspectives and priorities regarding recreation opportunities, and facilitate understanding and conflict resolution across these individuals and groups.
  • Make nature-based tourism, recreation, and outdoor leadership decisions within applicable laws, policies, and regulations, and across cultural and geographical contexts.

Academic Opportunities 

The Public Lands & Recreation Administration Program encompasses opportunities for graduate students, undergraduates online, and our traditional opportunities for undergraduates on campus: 

Cooperating Academic Programs

The Public Lands & Recreation Administration Program cooperates with the Nonprofit Leadership Program to cooperatively prepare students for careers in Public Lands Philanthropy!

Public Lands Flier


Public Lands & Recreation Administration Minor 

For current course requirements for the Public Lands & Recreation Administration Minor (formerly Recreation Management & Youth Leadership Minor), please visit the ISU Undergraduate Course Catalog

The Public Lands & Recreation Administration Minor compliments the following academic programs: Criminology & Security Studies, Safety, Geography, Sustainability, Museum Studies, History, Business, Marketing, Financial Services, Communication, Public Relations, Biology, Political Science, Human Resource Development, Human Development & Family Studies, Psychology, Social Work, and Multidisciplinary Studies. 

Not Ready for the Entire PLRA Minor - Consider Taking One Course!

Students wanting to try just one class in Public Lands & Recreation Administration are encouraged to take RCSM-200: Introduction to Public Lands & Recreation Administration, which is offered every spring semester. 

Alternative Spring Break

In Spring 2023, the Public Lands & Recreation Administration, in cooperation with the Nonprofit Leadership Program, will be co-sponsoring an Alternative Spring Break trip to Medora, North Dakota where we will be engaging in the community and learning through service with the Theodore Roosevelt Medora FoundationTheodore Roosevelt National ParkTheodore Roosevelt Nature and History Association, and the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation. This trip will be led by Dr. Nathan A. Schaumleffel in conjunction with his class, RCSM-485: Community Development & Nonprofit Organizations, targeting students in the following programs: 

  • Nonprofit Leadership Minor
  • Public Lands & Recreation Administration Minor 
  • Museum Studies Minor 
  • History Major 
  • Geography and Sustainability Major
  • Sustainability Minor 

Public Lands Spring Break Trip

How to Join the Public Lands & Recreation Administration Minor 

If you're ready to declare the Public Lands & Recreation Administration as your minor, please do the following: 

  • As with any change in a student's course of study, students wanting to earn the Public Lands & Recreation Administration Minor should first meet with their assigned academic advisor to add the Public Lands & Recreation Administration Minor on MySam. Students should request that Dr. Nathan A. Schaumleffel be added as a secondary or tertiary academic advisor on MySam. 
  • Students should email Dr. Schaumleffel ( for an academic advisement appointment. At the academic advisement meeting, after learning about the student's career goals, Dr. Schaumleffel will review the student's MySam record and add Academic Advisement Notes regarding which semester to take each course required for the Public Lands & Recreation Administration Minor. The student's primary academic advisor should integrate the MySam notes into the MySam four-year plan. 
  • The student's academic advisor should update the student's MySam Plan and direct the student to take RCSM-200: Introduction to Public Lands & Recreation Administration in the upcoming spring semester. RCSM-200 is a Spring Semester Only course. Only one section of the course is offered each spring semester. It is critical to take RCSM-200 as soon as possible. 
  • New Public Lands & Recreation Administration Minors, even if a freshman or sophomore, may take RCSM-485: Community Development & Nonprofit Organizations in the spring semester.

Udall Foundation Scholarship

The Morris K. Udall & Stewart L. Udall Foundation Scholarship Program for Tribal Policy, Native Health Care, and Conservation & Environmental Issues is accepting applications for three scholarship categories:

• Tribal Policy (Must be a documented member or affiliate of a federally recognized tribe)

• Native Health Care (Must be a documented member or affiliate of a federally recognized tribe)

• Conservation & Environmental Issues (Open to all students regardless of race and ethnicity)

These scholarship programs are open to current undergraduate sophomores and juniors. Students must be full-time students during the academic year that they receive the scholarship.

Please, review the Udall Foundation Undergraduate Scholarship web site to learn more about these $7,000.00 scholarships:

Want to Speak with the Program Coordinator and Academic Advisor? 

For more information about the Public Lands & Recreation Administration program or to schedule an on-campus or Zoom appointment for academic advisement, please contact: 

Dr. Nathan Schaumleffel, CRPRP, CNP, CFRM, CVA, CYSA

Associate Professor, Program Coordinator, & Academic Advisor

Public Lands & Recreation Administration Program