In 1998, The Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council (SFBPC) was asked by the Director of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to recommend a strategy to increase recreational boating and fishing participation and help instill the conservation ethic through increased emphasis on effective education and outreach programs.

The SFBPC engaged Group Solutions to design, facilitate and provide support for a national consensus-building effort among user groups and stakeholders to identify problems, set objectives, and devise strategies to meet those objectives. Ultimately, over 500 stakeholders participated in this process.

A kickoff meeting of over 300 stakeholders met in Washington D.C. to identify and prioritize 47 potential causes of declining participation. Group Solutions designed the process and provided a team of facilitators to capture all comments and prioritizations from this single-day event.

Results from this process were used to construct agendas for 5 regional stakeholder meetings conducted across the country. Problems identified regionally were added to those previously identified, bringing the total to 128. Participants were asked to rank their regional problems from a national perspective. The number of problems was consolidated from 128 to 18 and re-prioritized.

A second National stakeholder meeting was designed and facilitated by Group Solutions in St. Louis, MO, where after initial dialog, further refinement and editing, five problems were selected as cross-cutting and most important. Those five problems were restated into the plan’s five key objectives.

Group Solutions facilitated brainstorming of potential strategies and tactics. National objectives were identified, refined and validated in a series of 4 regional meetings where regional strategies and tactics were developed.

Information from over 700 pages of stakeholder input was assimilated and organized. An outline of the Strategic Plan was prepared by a writing team facilitated by Group Solutions.

This process formed the foundation for The Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that has rasied over $72 million over the next five years to promote recreational boating and fishing participation and aquatic resource stewardship.