National Expert chosen to improve communications and marketing of fish and wildlife

Mark DuddaMark Duda has worked on more than 1000 marketing, communications, and public relations research, plans, and projects involving fisheries and wildlife, for state agencies, universities, businesses, and all the major hunting and fishing national organizations. And now he’s coming to Maine.

Our Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has launched a very-much-needed and very-exciting project to improve its communications with the public and, eventually, grow its market. In the Request for Proposals that the agency advertised, they noted, “In order to maintain and enhance current programs, mandates, and projects, MDIFW must continue to maintain support for its programs amongst its current constituents while generating new support from the general public who value wildlife and its associated recreational opportunities.”

The agency is very lucky to have gotten Mark Duda for this project. I’ve been following his career for many years, and benefitting from his research which he often shares with me. Duda and his company, Responsive Management, has been conducting public opinion and market research on natural resource based issues, including hunting and fishing, for 25 years. Mark reports that his mission “is to help natural resource agencies and organizations better understand and work with their constituents, customers, and the public.” He is internationally recognized as an expert in this field.

“Over the past 25 years,” he writes, “Responsive Management has been directly involved in numerous communications and marketing planning efforts, including scientific research to evaluate agency successes, challenges, and needs; message testing to identify key target audiences and the messages and themes that resonate with these groups; and development, facilitation, management, and coordination of overall marketing planning.” Boy, do we need all of that!

Emily McCabe in DIF&W’s Information and Education Division is responsible for this project, with lots of help from Judy Camuso, DIF&W’s Wildlife Division Director.

Jodi ValentaDuda selected Jodi Valenta and her company, Mile Creek Communications, as his partner in this project. Valenta’s consulting firm is located near Boston, and specializes in “utilizing market research to create dynamic and effective communications campaigns.” Valenta has 21 years of experience in natural resource conservation and communication. She once served as Director of Recruitment and Retention for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, where she planned and implemented key programs including Step Outside, the Hunting Heritage Partnership Program, and Families Afield. She also served on the marketing task force of the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s Take Me Fishing campaign.

What a team!

Washington State

One recent project that Duda and Valenta worked on together was for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. They explored the needs of Washington residents, anglers, and youth, as well as demographic trends taking place in Washington State among important target markets, and created recommendations for communications and outreach strategies to increase fishing participation and fishing license sales.

And their plan worked, increasing fishing license sales by 9%, temporary licenses by 16%, and combination licenses by 28%. Their marketing recommendations also helped overall revenue from fishing license sales in Washington to increase by $1.7 million.

My Role

I plan to follow this process very closely, attend as many of the meetings and events as I can, and tell you all about it, for two reasons.

First, I’ve been making recommendations to improve communications at DIF&W for many years, and this year submitted legislation to re-establish the marketing position at the agency. Sponsored by Representative Bob Duchesne, the bill garnered a lot of support at its public hearing, including from sportsmen’s groups and tourism officials, and was held over to next year by the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee, to see how it might be used to advance this new DIF&W project.

Second, this project is all about you. And I want to give you a chance to participate.

Planning Workshop

In July, I attended an all-day workshop conducted by Mark Duda and Jodi Valenta, scheduled “to identify opportunities, objectives, strategies, and general planning by meeting with MDIFW personnel.” It was a fascinating discussion.

Sometime soon, I will tell you all about that day, which was very productive. And I’ll give you an opportunity to answer the same questions that Mark and Jodi posted to the participating DIF&W staff members.

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.