Bachelor’s program in Natural Resource Tourism now available online

What one industry accounts for more than 10 percent of the global economy, one in 10 jobs worldwide, and generated $8.27 trillion in 2017?

Camping under the stars in Colorado around a campfire.
Natural Resource Tourism students are not just storytellers, they are the story makers and drivers for the fifth largest global industry.

Tourism and recreation, the fifth largest industry on the planet. The continued growth and importance of this economic engine relies on thoughtful natural resources management, to ensure the long-term sustainability of both the natural environment and tourism-dependent businesses and communities.

This requires learning about science-based natural resource management, eco-social responsibility and sustainability, and tourism development and marketing, as well as how to start and manage a tourism enterprise. A new online bachelor’s degree in natural resources tourism, offered by the Warner College of Natural Resources at Colorado State University, prepares students around the world to become part of tourism’s future.

Each of the courses provides direct learning opportunities from tourism industry experts, such as Squaw Valley Ski Holdings CEO Andy Wirth, who completed an on-campus bachelor’s degree in natural resources tourism in The Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources (HDNR).

“That program gave me the requisite skills so to realize my passion for living and working in the mountains and importantly helped me advance quickly in the organization [Steamboat Ski Resort, where he spent the first 20 years of his career],” Wirth said.

Experience in tourism education

Girl with backpack walking in field of flowers.
The Nature Resource Tourism degree is the largest in Colorado and broadly attracts traditional, non-traditional, and transfer students, making it one of the most popular majors in the Warner College of Natural Resources.

As a land-grant university, CSU has long been involved in natural resources management education, and has offered an on-campus tourism and recreation degree since 1986. The addition of online course offerings complements the existing on-campus degree, allowing tourism professionals to complete their education while working in the industry, as well as providing on-campus students with greater flexibility in completing the requirements in their major.

“Many of our natural resource tourism students are actively working in the tourism industry, such as at a ski resort, running a fly-fishing guide business, or owning a bike shop, and the ability for them to gain work experience while studying online is invaluable,” says Paul Layden, HDNR faculty and internship coordinator. “Having greater flexibility in their program of study where they are not always required to be on campus, can help them get that extra experience, which will give them a leg up after graduation.”

In addition to the new online bachelor’s degree, through Colorado State University Online, HDNR offers an online master of tourism management; an online graduate certificate in ski area management; an online graduate certificate in adventure tourism, and through a partnership with CSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences, an online graduate certificate in agritourism management.

NRT Alumni: Andy Wirth, CEO and President of Squaw Valley Ski Holdings

“Reflecting on a three-decades-long career in the ski industry, I realize that it all started with an internship through CSU’s undergraduate program in natural resource tourism.” Wirth said. “Having spent most of my career in the executive suite of Steamboat Ski Resort, larger ski resort holding companies, and ultimately serving as a CEO of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, I look back at my career and the people with whom I worked with great pride, but also on my longtime and continuing association with CSU. Living your passion is key and CSU’s undergraduate program in natural resource tourism opened that door for me.”