Leisure, Youth, and Human Services

Leisure, Youth, and Human Services

As a nationally recognized and accredited professional education program, the University of Northern Iowa's Division of Leisure, Youth and Human Services (LYHS) focuses on preparing individuals with the skills, knowledge and values required to effectively assume professional leadership/managerial positions in the areas of leisure, recreation, parks, therapeutic recreation, tourism, youth and human service settings.

Leisure as a profession focuses on the principles underlying recreational and leisure activities and the practices involved in providing indoor and outdoor recreational facilities and services for the general public. These leisure services take place in outdoor recreation, parks and recreation, therapeutic recreation programs for people with disabilities, campus recreation, commercial recreation, travel and tourism, and youth-serving organizations. 

Youth Services focuses on engagement of children and youth in structured and unstructured activities that contribute to individual development and community enhancement at the local, national and international levels. Youth services provide quality opportunities for children and youth in peer mentoring, academic enrichment, leadership development, health promotion, clubs and interest groups, service learning, vocations and career development, life skill enhancement, character education, arts and literary activities, adventure education, outdoor pursuits and discovery, geography and science.

Human services addresses individual and community needs by providing services centering on prevention as well as remediation of human and community problems and improving overall quality of life. Human service professionals work in all sectors of society, however, the Division of Leisure, Youth and Human Services focuses on working with populations in the nonprofit and public sectors. 


Transfer students should talk to our academic advisers for suggestions on what can be done to prepare for an LYHS major at UNI. Taking beginning classes in the major will help students get a understanding of the field.


Leisure, Youth, and Human Services
Internships and service learning

Students in LYHS have a variety of opportunities to put their coursework to the real-world test through hands-on learning opportunities throughout the academic career, culminating in an internship during your final year.

Leisure, Youth, and Human Services

LYHS offers a wide variety of programs within the School of Health, Physical Education and Leisure Services at UNI where students can gain hands-on experiences working with individuals of all ages and abilities. Examples of programs include Camp Adventure Child & Youth Services, Just for Kicks, Special Olympics, Nonprofit Leadership Alliance, Dance Marathon and many more.

Leisure, Youth, and Human Services
Opportunities to volunteer and work with local youth programs

With UNI’s location in the heart of the Cedar Valley, there are an abundance of programs close to campus and within the greater Cedar Valley area where students can gain extensive experience.


96% of last year's graduates are either continuing their education or employed


City/county recreation
Summer camp director 
YMCA/YWCA sports director
Youth coaching director
Community recreation and exercise coordinator
Recreation therapist
Coaching director for youth sports associations
College/university intramurals director
Wellness/aquatics director
Nonprofit agency executive director
Nonprofit agency youth director
Volunteer coordinator
Education/programming/training specialist
Director of development and fundraising
Advocacy, policy and research specialist
Special event coordinator
Park ranger 
Environmental interpreter
Naturalist/environmental educator
Outdoor trip guide
Inclusion specialist 


Have questions or want more information? Fill out the form below and someone from the department will contact you directly. To receive general university information from UNI’s admissions office, please click on ‘Request More Info About UNI’.

Christopher Kowalski, EdD
Program Coordinator
Leisure, Youth and Human Services
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