We just finished summarizing results from the first couple of semesters of Academics Afield, a GWF program that introduces college students to hunting and shooting developed in partnership with NSSF’s +ONE Movement. Here are some of the highlights.
- Hosted ten hunting-focused and three shooting-focused events. Multiple follow-up hunts and shooting experiences occurred outside of official events as a result of the community-based mentoring model pushed the program.
- Academics Afield participants are more likely to come from non-hunting backgrounds and fall outside of the current demographics of hunters than participants in other hunter recruitment programs. Fifty percent of participants were female, the overwhelming majority had no hunting experience, and the median age was 22.
- Participants are likely to continue hunting and feel well equipped to do so; 98% reported they were likely to hunt in the future and 93% reported they were confident they could hunt on their own or with limited guidance after the event.
- Media exposure of AA likely provided further engagement of participants and their communities and had an impact on how the existing base of hunters thinks about recruitment. Program participants and mentors created many of their own social media posts highlighting their experiences, additional hunts, and equipment purchases, likely having a ripple effect within their community.
- Switching from a completely volunteer-operated model to one where paid staff (student interns) were involved in each event resulted in an increase in event frequency, messaging consistency, quality of participant experiences, and quality of data collected through evaluation and tracking.
We are excited about the progress we have made in Georgia and are in the planning stages for expansion to other states in the Southeast.
The Georgia R3 Initiative is a cooperative effort between Georgia Wildlife Federation, Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Division, National Wild Turkey Federation, Quality Deer Management Association, and Safari Club International.