Parks & Conservation Management Degree – Paul Smith’s College

Earn a degree in Parks and Conservation Management at Paul Smith’s College to further your path toward the perfect job or career.

Parks & Conservation Management

Community enjoyment of our outdoor environment is central to maintaining a healthy quality of life. However, meeting the needs of society while also conserving our land, water and air can be a precarious balance. Learn how to effectively strike this balance in a place where students, faculty and staff share a deep connection to the natural world. Our campus at the heart of the 6-million-acre Adirondack Parks is a unique natural, social, economic and political backdrop for exploring these often-intricate relationships. Managing spaces such as public parks, planned neighborhoods and recreational facilities requires a broad skill set and sensitive approach. Graduates of this bachelor’s-degree program will be able to:

  • Employ best practices in natural resources conservation and stewardship
  • Interpret important issues in a way that makes them accessible and actionable to the general public
  • Analyze the interrelationships among recreation consumers, environmental ethics and the natural environment
  • Develop and implement management plans that employ ethical considerations, leadership models, motivation techniques, team leadership and self-managed team concepts
  • Conduct social research for assessment, planning and evidence-based decision making

In addition to intense exploration of the Adirondacks – a place that played a pioneering role in the nation’s recreation industry – students have significant opportunities to study abroad. Traditionally dominated by the public sector, the parks and recreation industry is also attractive to private companies operating resorts, lodges and shared-living communities, driving job opportunities in this field.

Fast Facts

Your program of study will include course work that studies the balance and overlap between Natural Resources, human needs, and managing the impacts on those resources. Course work in environmental resource analysis, park design and management combined with visitor management services are areas that will be developed in your course work. Students will study the interactions of the environment and society and examine the significance of play, recreation, and leisure in society. The connections between management, communications, and problem solving.

  • B.S. degree
  • 121 credit hours (minimum) required
    • 45+ credits must be in 300/400 level courses
    • 60 credits must be in the liberal arts and sciences
Great Careers
  • Park Ranger
  • Conservation Officer
  • Recreational Supervisor
  • Outdoor Recreational Planner
  • Interpretive Naturalist
  • Parks & Recreation Director
  • Outdoor Outfitters
  • Community Center Manager
Program Objectives

At the end of the program students will be able to:

  • Natural resource (Green systems, infrastructure networks)
    • Examine the social, biological, and physical sciences underlying sound land use planning & management to include ecological principles & their application to management & use of the resources.
    • Employ the principles & practices of stewardship and use of natural resources and the ability to interpret them to the general public, particularly as related to the public’s role in stewardship.
    • Demonstrate the ability to apply both traditional and innovative management.
    • Evaluate the relationship of society to the environment.
  • Human needs (Healthy, active people / philosophy of recreation)
    • Discuss the conceptual foundations of play, recreation, & leisure.
    • Examine the significance of play, recreation, & leisure in contemporary society, and throughout a person’s life span.
    • Compare the interrelationship between leisure behavior and environmental ethics and the natural environment.
  • Management (Human resource Management, Behavioral Management, Resource Management, Plan Implementation)
    • Ability to implement leisure principles and procedures related to individuals, groups and the communities quality of life.
    • Evaluate a variety of assessment techniques and their uses.
    • Develop out-come oriented goals and objectives.
    • Utilizing ethical considerations, leadership models, motivation techniques, team leadership, and self-managed team concepts.
  • Communication (Outreach, Group Collaboration, Partnerships, Education, Feedback)
    • Identify the roles, interrelationships and use of diverse delivery systems addressing park resources, recreation, and leisure.
    • Identify the public, private, profit, and not-for-profit delivery systems that address the leisure needs of the public, how they work together, and their importance.
    • Demonstrate the importance of leisure delivery systems for diverse populations.
    • Differentiate the impact of leisure delivery systems on a wide diversity of populations.
  • Problem Solving (balance) (Assessing impact, Selecting Alternatives, Planning)
    • Application of appropriate research methodology and statistical analysis for assessment, planning and evaluation processes for evidence based decision making.
    • Applying the fundamental principles and procedures of management.
    • Explain the principles and procedures of human resource management.
    • Ability to utilize the tools of professional communication.
Key Courses

Program Planning Guide »

  • Recreation & Leisure in U.S.
  • Environmental Resource Analysis
  • Facilities Management
  • Diversity & Inclusion by Design
  • Risk Management & Liability
  • Visitor Management Services
  • Park & Recreation Design
  • Integrated Park Management capstone


We’re on a journey with academic partners in Italy as they work to develop a sustainable living-tourism model for the Appennine National Park. Their model? The ADKs, of course. »


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