The Center for the Outdoor Recreation Economy (CORE) partners with trade and professional associations and outdoor companies to identify, assess, and analyze the biggest workforce trends and issues facing the outdoor recreation economy today.

From applied and market research to workforce assessments and standards development, our research teams - including OSU faculty, researchers, and graduate students - empower leaders to make data-driven decisions that drive their organizations and the industry forward.


OSU's CORE has partnered with the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) to coordinate the 2024-2028 Oregon Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP). Oregon's SCORP provides a strategic vision for local, regional, state, and federal agencies, together with tribal governments, and private and non-profit partners, to effectively and adequately provide outdoor recreation and conservation to meet the needs of Oregon State residents. The SCORP is foundational in helping to guide local and state decisions, as well as assisting in the investment of limited funding on the most important recreation and conservation needs.

Learn more about SCORP

Evaluating the American Rescue Plan

The National Governor Associations’ Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and Oregon State University’s (OSU) Center for the Outdoor Recreation Economy (CORE) have partnered to complete a 2-year research project assessing the effectiveness of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) American Rescue Plan Act’s (ARP) Travel, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation recovery grants. The aim of this research is to expand the impact of successful EDA/ARP recovery projects by evaluating and sharing successful strategies with Governors’ tourism, outdoor recreation, workforce, and economic development advisors. 

Learn more about the NGA-CORE research project


The outdoor industry at large recognizes its substantial challenges in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Unfortunately, many companies — and especially small businesses — often don’t know where to begin when attempting to address these issues.

Cairn, a small outdoor recreation business based in Bend, Oregon, discovered an innovative way to partner with a university-led DEI consultant, allowing the company to move from clear commitment and good intentions to meaningful action. The engagement involved an organizational assessment, specialized trainings, and a strategic plan for Cairn's culture and practices going forward. While this example focuses on one company, the collaborative, personalized approach holds tremendous value as a potential model for other small businesses in the outdoor industry. 

Review the complete case study




CORE partners with the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR), the nation's leading coalition of outdoor recreation trade associations, on critical research initiatives for the industry including:


1) 2022 Outdoor Industry Workforce Assessment

In partnership with one of ORR's member associations, the Outdoor Industry Association, OSU researchers developed an employer survey and assessment to better understand the workforce needs, goals, and efforts across the industry.

This project would not have been possible without the collaborative support of OSU's Office of Institutional Diversity, Survey Research Center, VF Foundation, Path to Peak Consulting, Confluence of States, and Basecamp Outdoor.

You can read the results, summary, and full report of the study here.

Fisheries and Wildlife Degree

2) Outdoor Recreation & Land and Water Conservation Fund Survey

With the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA), the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) now has a guaranteed source for $900 million in mandatory annual funding for outdoor recreation and conservation projects across the nation. 

With data collection support from the Center's graduate students, the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR) now offers a comprehensive list of funding-ready projects. 

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3) COVID-19 Impact Study 

Surveying the industry in 2020 to measure the impacts of COVID-19 on the outdoor recreation industry as a whole, the most recent findings tell the story of an impressive, if still fragile, recovery.


Working in collaboration with AARP and the College of Public Health & Human Sciences, CORE identified research and training opportunities dedicated to making the outdoors more accessible and inclusive of the 50+ community.

One of the outcomes of the project included a proposed set of competencies necessary for all customer service employees in the outdoor recreation industry. These competencies will be used as standards to develop the curriculum and learning outcomes for future trainings. 

Check out the findings webcast with AARP and OSU.



This year’s research focus will continue to be in diversity, equity, and inclusion including organizational assessments, baseline studies, and workforce trends. Follow our blog and LinkedIn page to stay up to date on our work.

If your association or organization is looking for research support, please contact us.

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