Project Development

Step 1: Develop Your Project

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So…ya wanna do what?

So many great ideas, so little time. If you’ve taken the time to visit Outdoor Nation, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ve already come up with a great idea or two. Want to expand open space in your community? Get kids outside? Drum up support from the business community?

No matter what great idea you’ve had, it’s important to start narrowing it down. Have you written your focused and concise mission statement? If not, do it. Unless you have access to a million bucks, focusing on your core idea is the first step to achieving success. Consider identifying your top two or three priorities – max – and focusing on those.

Identify your strengths (and think about your challenges).

Once you know what you want to do, take some time to figure out what you do better than anyone else. This can be a who – do you have a great group of friends who are fired up to get started? A what – have you figured out a solution to a problem that has been stumping people for ages? Or a why – have you identified a problem unique to your community?

It’s also worth spending some time on your challenges. Again, go back to 4th grade and think through the five W’s and one H. Who is your competition for resources? What will stand in your way of accomplishing your goals? When do you have time to get this done? Where will you set up? Why will people help you and join your cause?

Having a good handle of your strengths and challenges will help you stay realistic as you launch your initiative.

What’s realistic? What’s not?

Now that you’ve focused in on what you want to do and better understand your competitive advantages, it’s time to grab your computer and do a little research. What resources already exist? Is anyone in your community already doing it? If not, take a look around the nation. Anyone to learn from? Piggyback on?

Understanding what’s already happening in your community is essential to putting together a budget, raising money and telling your story. Unless you’re first or best, you may have trouble securing funding or sharing your ideas. Be sure that you know what’s going on in your community and how you fit in.

Tell your story.

Keep that computer humming and start jotting down the basics of your project’s plan. Whatcha gonna do and where are you gonna do it? Who are you going to help and when will you get started? What kind of help do you need to turn your idea into reality?

Remember what your high school English teacher taught you. Write well. Be persuasive. Add emotion. Communicate impact. And, remember, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Shout it out.

No matter what you’re trying to do, you won’t go far alone. If you haven’t already gathered a group of your friends to advocate with you, this is the time to reach out. If you need some dough to get started, this is the time to start communicating the need. If no one understands the problem, priority #1 might be to shed some light on the issue.

Affecting change takes people, money, time and attention. Where should you start with advocacy or fundraising or raising awareness? Keep reading. We have a few ideas to help.

Additional Resources

TED: Looking for inspiration? Look no further, my friends. Inspiring talks by inspiring people.
Department of Interior Teach and Learn: More cool project ideas with resources for both teachers and students.
Connecting Kids to Conservation: A great resource to help you plan conservation projects with kids.
National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS): Learn from the experts. NOLS has been teaching outdoor leadership and environmental ethics since 1965!
Outdoor Leadership Training Seminars: Check out outdoor trips and training offered in rockclimbing, mountaineering, backcountry skiing, whitewater rafting and wilderness backpacking.
Children & Nature Network's Research & Resources: Find tons of info on what’s best for children’s healthy development.

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