The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources recently held an R3 Summit on Recruitment, Retention and Reactivation in the Outdoor Industry. The participants were largely wildlife officials, non-profit outdoor groups, NGOs and state employees.
The message of the conference is clear: we're facing an uncertain future due to an aging demographic and a gradual downturn in the sales of hunting and fishing licenses. Even though much of the emphasis was on programs in Minnesota, the trends and solutions discussed have implications nationwide.
The conclusions drawn from the general session and breakout presentations offer a wake-up call to the outdoor industry to recruit new and more diverse groups of the population into outdoor activities. While the challenges ahead were outlined, the opportunities were addressed with real-world solutions and examples that offer a road map to future growth in the industry.
The R3 concept gives us the framework for reaching out to new millenials and other groups that are under-represented in hunting and fishing activities, and offers a glimpse at a new mentoring approach that will help preserve our outdoor heritage for future generations.