Currently, most programs have not set up specific budgets and they do not track staff time. In most situations, these programs are a part of larger projects, generally funded by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services’ Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program. The budgets of these larger projects support a wide array of activities. As a result, it may be possible to re-construct program expenditures and staff time allocated by examining the larger project-level records.
However, establishing a unique budget (or budget estimate) and having a mechanism to track program-specific expenditures and staff time will allow program managers to answer questions about the effectiveness of the program and its overall success.
In general, training programs require a large amount of staff time, but a relatively small amount of out-of-pocket expenditures.
Many current food-motivated, new adult hunter/angler programs are underwritten by grants provided by:
- Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies' Multi-state Grant Program
- State chapters of the National Wild Turkey Federation
- Cabela’s Outdoor Fund
- Local sportsmen’s clubs.
Programs are usually offered free, but partners may charge fees to offset program costs. For example, in Iowa, the Edible Outdoors Program (a program partner) charges a $50 fee to become a member. Once a person becomes a member, they may attend any of the offered events all year for no extra cost. Other states simply charge the same fee they would charge for a hunter education course, even though programs provide many more contact hours and information than a “normal” hunter education course. In other situations, fees are charged specifically to cover the cost of lodging or room rental in a community college, or attendees are required to purchase a hunting license (and may be asked to purchase a more expensive license than the minimum required license).
In a few situations, participants are charged a fee to participate. These fees are in the $20 to $100 range. However, several programs are considering either implementing fees or increasing current fees. In some situations, participants may receive membership in a conservation organization (such as the National Wild Turkey Federation or the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation) as part of the registration.
If the program is funded in whole or part by Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program funds, state agency program managers should check with their federal aid coordinator to determine how fees may be charged and how any “program income” should be reported.
Based on limited information, charging reasonable program fees does not seem to deter participation.