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 most cases, program planners start with an idea, develop a program and then promote the program 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 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 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 outcomes. Clearly 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 supportactivities 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 after they complete the program.
  • Add evaluation opportunities. Programs should purposefully design opportunities to solicit participant feedback at specific places 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 an event. This list includes finding a place to hold the event, 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.



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

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.

The National Hunting & Shooting Action Plan - Second Content Draft (4/1/2016)

Participation in hunting and, until recently, the shooting sports has been steadily declining since the
1980s. 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 everincreasing
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.

Hunter Recruitment and Retention: A Framework for Research and Action

Decades of decline in the total number of licensed hunters in New York and other states across the U.S. has resulted in hunter recruitment and retention (HRR) becoming a high priority issue of interest among the North American wildlife conservation and management community. Federal and state agencies and many non-governmental organizations have devoted research funding and time toward efforts to influence HRR, and this investment has resulted in a growing body of knowledge regarding the factors that affect the HRR process.

25 Reasons Why Hunting Is Conservation

Reason No. 1 why Hunting Is Conservation: In 1907, only 41,000 elk remained in North America. Thanks to the
money and hard work invested by hunters to restore and conserve habitat, today there are more than 1 million.

Reason No. 2 why Hunting Is Conservation: In 1900, only 500,000 whitetails remained. Thanks to conservation
work spearheaded by hunters, today there are more than 32 million.

Reason No. 3 why Hunting Is Conservation: In 1900, only 100,000 wild turkeys remained. Thanks to hunters, today
there are over 7 million.