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.


National Hunting & Shooting Sports Action Plan

Participation in hunting and, until recently, the shooting sports has been steadily declining since the 1980s.1 The decline in these activities, which sustain a multi-billion-dollar industry and provide the primary financial support for state-level wildlife conservation in the U.S., poses an ever-increasing threat to wildlife conservation. Early in the 20th century, sportsmen and -women, as well as conservation leaders recognized the critical need for a significant and sustainable source of funding for wildlife management.

Female Hunting Participation in North America and Heritage Action Plan

Data from 13 European countries, 50 states in the United States, and 6 Canadian provinces/territories were used to examine the relationship of aggregate level variables on female participation in hunting. Overall, 8% of the hunters were female. The analysis showed a strong positive influence of the proportion of male hunters in society on female hunting participation. This key role of males is consistent with previous individual-level studies of female participation. A greater proportion of females hunted in states and countries with larger areas.

Extending the Locavore Movement to Wild Fish and Game: Questions and Implications

ABSTRACT The locavore movement presents an opportunity to educate citizens about the nutritional and culinary benefits associated with consumption of wild fish and game, as well as demonstrate the benefits and value of hunting and fishing activities. An integrated research and extension program focused on procuring, preparing, and eating wild fish and game provides further opportunities to understand how actions such as participation in hunting, fishing, and other related outdoor recreation contribute to society and to the rest of the environment.

Keys to Recruitment and Retention

Now more than ever, people in this country are living in an increasingly urbanized, technologically-infused and indoor-focused environment. As such, it may not come as a surprise to know the findings from a recent study suggest many recruitment and retention programs are more effective at retaining those already initiated into hunting, shooting and fishing than they are at recruiting true newcomers to these activities.

Recruitment and Retention Assessment Survey Report

The precise origin of this project is difficult to identify. During the past few years, the North American hunting community has become acutely concerned with the persistent national decline of hunting license sales and hunting participation rates. This new awareness has generated a more vigorous and comprehensive examination of the incentives for and process of becoming a hunter, while sparking an increase in activities related to the recruitment of new hunters and retention of existing ones.

2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation

From its monumental mountains and bountiful lands, to the great lakes and roving rivers, America the Beautiful is truly graced with an outdoors cherished more and more each day. The evidence is found in the 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife Recreation.

This report demonstrates the value of Fish and Wildlife-Related Recreation to the American people by providing information on participation and expenditures for fishing, hunting and wildlife watching.

Recruiting and Retaining Minnesota Hunters and Anglers

The Commissioner’s Council on Hunting and Angling Recruitment and Retention (CCRR) was formed in January 2013. The council was created following conversations in late 2012 between leaders of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Minnesota Outdoor Heritage Alliance (MOHA). The council was formed because MOHA, an umbrella organization for more than 50 Minnesota-based hunting, fishing and conservation organizations, and the DNR share a mutual interest in sustaining Minnesota’s hunting and fishing heritage.

Creating Opportunities - Best Practices Hunting Workbook

Every successful company is constantly looking for opportunities to create new customers or to provide new services and products to existing customers. In the past, the shooting and wildlife recreation community has had either stable or growing participation without having to compete for new participants. However, as the Introduction points out, those days are history.