If you follow the advice we provide in the recruiting section, you may find yourself with more applicants than you can handle for your new adult hunter or angler program. That's a great problem to have, but it's still a problem.
The best means to ensure that you have the “right” audience is to incorporate a screening process into registration. Simple questions regarding their past hunting/fishing and outdoor experience as well as their motivations will help you find your ideal participants. This information will also help you in customizing your program's content to your exact audience.
Filling your program slots with “first-come-first-served responders,” regardless if they meet your ideal audience, may be OK in the short-term but you miss later applicants who might have benefited more from the program and might not satisfy the needs of early applicants that aren't quite suited for the program.
But be sure to keep the list of people who register for programs but are not ideal participants. This information has several uses:
- Applicants for other programs - A person with too much hunting or cooking experience for program A might be the ideal participant for program B, and if you've saved their contact information and their screening answers, you can match them with future programs and easily ask them if they would like to participate.
- Ideas for new programs - The individuals you screen out of programs may also uncover needs for new additional programs. If you screen out 15 people from a beginning deer hunting class because they want to hunt geese, then you have uncovered the need for a beginning waterfowl hunting program. And once you have developed it, you can contact those 15 people first and ask if they would like to participate.
- Feedback on your marketing efforts - If you recruit a much larger number of participants than you can handle and they don't all match up well with the program you are promoting, your marketing and communications strategies are not quite precise enough. If you recruit too many applicants and they fit the bill perfectly, you have either promoted too aggressively or underestimated the size of the market for that program. If you don't get enough registrations or very few of your applicants match up with the program, you are not promoting to the right people or there just isn't much interest in the program as you have presented it.
Once you have identified your participants and filled your class, a more in-depth survey may be used to determine their baseline of skills and knowledge. Establishing this baseline will be extremely important when the time comes to measure your program's impact.