ALEXANDRIA, VA – Through its State R3 Program Grants, the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) recently awarded funds to 15 programs in 14 states. Now in its seventh year, the State R3 Program Grants’ goal is to support state recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) initiatives to increase fishing and boating participation; this year, the funds provided to state agencies are dedicated to angler and boater customer engagement strategies to retain anglers and boaters.

RBFF is providing $308,000 in retention grants this year. The 14 state agencies are contributing more than $380,000 in project funds and in-kind support, bringing the total amount of funding support to more than $688,000 for these retention programs.

Nationally, state agencies have experienced a 11% increase in fishing license sales in 2020 versus 2019, with resident fishing licenses sales up 15%. This growth indicates a net gain of 3.2 million fishing licenses. With this surge in participation, RBFF focused the 2021 grants program on retention efforts to keep the 2020 anglers and boaters participating.

“With millions of Americans taking up fishing or boating as new or returning participants in 2020, and our research indicating 90% of new anglers want to continue participating in the sport, this represents a great opportunity,” said Stephanie Hussey, RBFF’s State R3 Program Director. “We are pleased to support these state agencies in implementing programs focused on retaining these newcomers and keeping them out on the water.”

The State R3 Program Grants fund sustainable and replicable angler and boater R3 initiatives and plans that focus on increasing fishing license sales and boat registrations to help achieve 60 million anglers in 60 months. Proposals are reviewed and selected by RBFF staff and a Proposal Review Working Group made up of industry and NGO representatives.

The 2021 grantees include:

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

  • First-time Florida Fishing License Buyer Retention Campaign

Idaho Department of Fish and Game

  • Idaho Fish and Game Retention Post Card and Sticker

Iowa Department of Natural Resources

  • Community-based Fishing Social Media Influencer Marketing Campaign

Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources

  • Retaining and Reactivating Anglers in Kentucky using the “Kentucky Fishing Forecast”

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

  • Retaining New and Reactivated Anglers Near LDWF’s Urban Community Fishing Sites

Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife

  • Post-Pandemic Participation: Digital Strategies to Retain Anglers in 2021 and Beyond

Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

  • Retention of New and Reactivated Anglers from 2020

Nevada Department of Wildlife

  • 2021 R3 Growth

North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

  • Retaining COVID-19 Related Recruits and Reactivations
  • Family and Friends Fishing Series

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

  • Leveraging OTT (Over-The-Top) Advertising to Reach and Retain Angling Pandemic Participants

Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission

  • Retaining 2020 Recruited and Reactivated License Buyers

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

  • COVID-Era Customers: New Angler Retention Campaign

Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department

  • Retaining Newly Recruited and Reactivated Vermont Anglers with Social Media Influencers

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

  • Angler Retention Plan