Welcome to the Get Outdoors Florida! Best Practices Page for Conducting Events
For inquiries please contact Bob Wattendorf (e-mail or 850/528-1060).
Make your event the best possible by relying on expert advice
What are Best Practices?
Technically, they are practices with specific outcomes that have been clearly defined, refined through repeated delivery and evaluation, and supported by a substantial body of research. In common-speak, it’s the stuff that works.
In the world of natural resources conservation, we are lucky to have no less than three collections of Best Practices (and a host of related tools) to help us do our jobs – whatever they happen to be – more effectively. Come on, you say, how can any single manual or tool be applicable across the many and varied programs that you are involved in? The secret is that these Best Practices focus on process, not on content. The fact is, a whole bunch of smart people like you, in agencies and organizations like yours all over the continent, have been toiling for years toward similar goals, and they’ve done this work in about every way you can imagine—with varying degrees of success. They’ve learned through experience and research about processes that work – and don’t work – and that gives the rest of us a blueprint and foundation to help us do our work better.
Best Practices Manuals
There are three Best Practices documents that you can start using today:
Best Practices for Boating, Fishing, and Aquatic Resources Stewardship Education (Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, 2003)
Stewardship Education Best Practices Planning Guide (Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, 2008)
Best Practices in Hunting and Shooting Recruitment and Retention (National Shooting Sports Foundation, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, 2009)
Don’t let the titles fool you! Even if you never work on boating, fishing, hunting, shooting or stewardship, these tools can help you. Although these manuals were developed with specific content areas in mind, the bulk of the Best Practices are about process, not content. They can help conduct any type of education or outreach more effectively.
Boating, Fishing and Aquatic Resources Stewardship Education
The Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF) produced the first of these best practices publications in 2003. Eleven experts from diverse fields made recommendations for Best Practices for curricula, programs, evaluation and leadership. Recommendations were required to be supported by scientific research, peer recommendations and practical experience. Experts wrote review papers (edited by Tony Fedler), distilling the best practices from their fields that would help achieve the goals of boating, fishing and stewardship education programs. RBFF also solicited the help of 30 additional experts to review and help develop Best Practices tools.
Experts were drawn from: Universities, federal and state agencies, boating organizations, fishing organizations, extension programs, and industry.
The Best Practices for Boating, Fishing, and Aquatic Resources Stewardship Education Workbook is divided into 10 subject areas:
Plan Ahead for Success
Building Your Program
Expanding Your Reach: Diverse Audiences
Expanding Your Reach: Persons with Disabilities
Enhancing Boating Education Programs
Enhancing Fishing Education Programs
Enhancing Aquatic Stewardship Education
Let Research Help
Setting mission, goals, and objectives
Ethical principles and reasoning
Positive and repeated contact with the outdoors over time
Matching developmental stages of the learner
TBW – Summer 2009 Issue -- Page 6 of 18
Social context and social support
Considering all aspects of an issue
Encouraging long-term stewardship behavior
Structured and data-supported curricula
There are 11 fact sheets designed to give you a brief overview of the major segments of the Best Practices Workbook. You can review the fact sheets to figure out which segments of the workbook apply to your organization or situation.
The Workbook teaches people how to use Best Practices in their programs, but the Trainer’s Guide is designed to help you teach others how to use the tools. The guide uses a “cookbook” approach to clearly identify the points that facilitators need to make and the appropriate tools to use in order to communicate effectively to various target audiences.
The CD Rom has three different modules of a PowerPoint presentation that can be customized to tailor the presentation to a particular target audience. The CD also has downloadable versions of the workbook, fact sheets and trainer’s guide so you can print as many copies as you need.
Additionally, in 2006, RBFF developed a companion tool, Best Practices Guide to Program Evaluation for Aquatic Educators, to assist practitioners of aquatic education programs with all levels of evaluation.
All of these tools are available FREE on RBFF.org, at http://rbff.org/page.cfm?pageID=20 under Education Resource
Stewardship Education Best Practices
Chapter Nine in the RBFF Workbook is focused on enhancing aquatic stewardship education programs. Release of the RBFF Workbook and other tools generated considerable interest in this particular topic area. So much so, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) created an expanded, stand-alone version of this chapter as part of its North American Conservation Education Strategy.
Like the RBFF tools, the AFWA Planning Guide is focused largely on process, but it is geared very specifically toward aquatic resources stewardship education applications. This Guide is much shorter than the other two Best Practices documents, but it provides detailed explanation of how to design programs that develop a sense of stewardship using research and social marketing techniques. It provides Best Practices for:
Worksheets are included following every section of the Guide, so you can adapt the material to your specific situation as you work your way through the material. The AFWA Guide can help you achieve your goals and objectives whether you are just developing a conservation education program, or whether you’ve been at it for years. For maximum effectiveness, this Guide should be used in conjunction with the RBFF Workbook. However, for people primarily concerned with starting or improving a stewardship education program, this Guide alone can provide tremendous resources to help make the program effective.
The Stewardship Education Best Practices Planning Guide is available for free download at:http://www.fishwildlife.org/consed.html.
Hunting and Shooting Recruitment and Retention
Because the RBFF Workbook and other tools were more about process than content, some astute practitioners recognized that these same Best Practices could be applied to hunting and shooting as well as boating and fishing.
Consequently, to ensure other audiences could benefit from the materials, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) partnered with AFWA to adapt the RBFF Best Practices specifically to the hunting and shooting sports.
NSSF, which is the trade association for the hunting and shooting industry, hired Mile Creek Communications and D.J. Case & Associates to make the conversion and create a similar tool kit designed for hunting and shooting recruitment and retention.
With RBFF’s permission, NSSF created a hunting and shooting Best Practices tool kit that contains a very similar list of tools:
All these materials are available for free download at: www.nssf.org/bestpractices.
As with the RBFF Best Practices, the majority of NSSF Best Practices (most of the first nine chapters) focuses on process, not content. However, the NSSF Workbook also contains another nine chapters that are indeed content oriented, specifically addressing programs and issues common to hunting and shooting R&R efforts (most could be easily adapted to fishing and boating as well). Following is the chapter list from the NSSF Workbook:
1. Understanding the R&R Process
2. Plan Ahead for Success
3. Building Your Program
4. Well-Trained Instructors
6. Expanding Your Reach: Diverse Audiences
7. Expanding Your Reach: Persons with Disabilities
8. Enhancing Hunter Education Programs
9. Let Research Help
11. Creating Opportunities
13. Integrated Department-wide Programs
14. Outreach and Awareness
15. Marketing and Promotion
16. Maximizing Opportunities
17. Shooting Sports in Schools
18. Special Events/Hunts
If your work involves any elements of R&R, you can learn a lot about what works, what doesn’t work and how to tell the difference by getting these materials.