Program planning and administration

The successful development and implementation of any program depends on careful planning that integrates the needs of the agency and its partners with the needs of participants. Clarifying the needs and interests of each of these groups is critical for programs to be successful.

In many cases, agencies start with an idea, develop a program and then promote it to potential participants. While it's not impossible for this process to result in successful programs, there is a vast body of knowledge from marketing disciplines that show it is usually more effective to start with the audience -- not with the program. Find out what your specific target audience wants/needs and then develop a program to meet those needs. This might make program planning a little more difficult, but will greatly improve the likelihood that the program meets the needs of its participants and achieves its objectives.

See Assessing participant needs section for ideas on how to identify and communicate with potential participants. Informal discussions and interest assessments will provide ideas on the needs of potential audiences.

Considering participant needs early in program planning will help formulate the program objectives and outcomesClearly defining program objectives and outcomes early in the planning stages is critical in order to measure program success.

To help with this, spend a little time with the Outdoor Recreation Adoption Model, which can help you understand where your program fits in moving participants from interested observers to life-long hunters/anglers.

Other important elements that are often overlooked in planning hunting and fishing recruitment activities include:

  • Incorporating “social support” activities into the program. Research shows that if your participants don't have social support for continuing their hunting/fishing activities after your program, you are probably wasting your time. Planning for social support should start as early as possible so that a well-established system is in place before the program ends.
  • Incorporating “next steps” into the program so participants know what they can do to obtain additional knowledge and skills, or other needed support, after they complete the program. Understanding where and how your program fits into the Outdoor Recreation Adoption Model, as well as understanding participant needs will help create a suite of effective “next steps.”
  • Add evaluation opportunities. Programs should purposefully design opportunities to solicit participant feedback at specific times during the program. This will help ensure that you are meeting the needs of your participants and will allow your program to make adjustments along the way. See the Incorporating participant feedback section for additional information on surveys and evaluations.     

Obviously, planning includes identifying and arranging for the myriad logistical items necessary to successfully host activities. This list includes finding a suitable location for activities, finding instructors, arranging for the necessary equipment and supplies, etc. State agencies and many of their partners have extensive experience with the implementation side of planning, so these aspects will not be covered in detail in this module.

Additional ideas regarding program planning can be found at the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundations’s Best Practices in Boating, Fishing, and Aquatic Resources Stewardship Education Workbook.



This research was conducted for the Southeastern Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies’
(SEAFWA) Committee on Hunting, Fishing, and Wildlife-Related Participation and the
Midwestern Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies’ (MAFWA) Recruitment and Retention
Committee to evaluate the outcomes of a series of pilot programs designed to promote hunting
and fishing among young adults in urban/suburban settings who are interested in locally grown
or organic foods (commonly known as “locavores”).

Over the past two years, hands-on pilot hunting and fishing programs were offered in Ark

Highlights of Angler Recruitment, Retention and Reactivation (R3) Literature

This literature review is part of a larger project to assist the fishing community to develop a
strategic model to encourage the recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of anglers. This
review summarizes recent literature on angler R3 so those developing the model have a common
understanding of angler numbers, behaviors, churn rates, trends, motivations, barriers, potential
marketing strategies, and other issues that may affect R3 efforts.

Market Analysis by Southwick Associates

Executive Summary

Recognizing the growth in the local food, slow food movement and the potential for a locavore lifestyle to be conducive toward fishing and hunting, the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA) implemented a pilot recruitment effort in five states. The goal was to engage young adult locavores through targeted instructional hands-on courses teaching the fundamentals of fishing and hunting.

Market analysis of the pilot program and applicants showing interest in the courses focused on identifying specific markets for potential program expansion.

Locavore Anglers Course Outline & Supply List - Wisconsin DNR

Session 1 – Tuesday, February 2, 2016, 6 - 9 pm

~Duration Topic & Guest Speaker
15 minutes Ice breaker & Pre-program Survey

30 minutes Introductions - Fish Stories
5 minutes A word from our sponsor, Sport Fish Restoration - Why we’re doing this

20 minutes Wisconsin Fisheries – a brief history on a couple millennia of fishing in Wisconsin
Titus Seilheimer, UW Sea Grant Biologist

10 minutes Sustainable, Local Foods – How fishing fits in

Threats to sustainability and some solutions
20 minutes Fish contaminants (Health advisory) -- Meghan Williams, DNR Fisherie

Study Paints Portrait of the Occasional Angler

FERNANDINA BEACH, FL. – Young anglers, female anglers and fishermen in urban areas are most likely to go years without fishing regardless of where in the country they live, a follow-up report commissioned by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) has revealed. The report, developed performed by Southwick Associates, does however highlight regional differences in today’s anglers.

Steady Overall Participation Levels Conceal High Annual Rate of Churn Among Anglers

While the total number of anglers who enjoy fishing remains fairly consistent year-in and year-out, the number of anglers who actually bought a license in ten consecutive years remains amazingly small -four percent of the approximate 33 million anglers in the United States to be exact. This was the startlingly discovery revealed by a recent study conducted for the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) by Southwick Associates.