Dr. Robert "Bob" Holsman

Senior Social Scientist

Bob Holsman’s natural resource career started when he was a radio reporter where he often observed the disconnect between citizens and agency scientists in public meetings. That recognition sparked in him a desire to work at the social and ecological interface of resource management helping decision makers understand and incorporate stakeholder values and opinions into conservation policy.  Bob is a skilled meeting facilitator having led dozens of planning and stakeholder engagement efforts, as well as focus groups throughout his 25-year career.

Dr. Holsman was a wildlife professor at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point where he taught classes on conservation policy and law, human dimensions, and wildlife natural history. He also oversaw the Conservation Warden Training Program there. More recently, Bob served as a social scientist in the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. His university and state agency social science research contribute to our understanding of issues ranging from hunter R3 (recruitment, retention, and reactivation), hunter response to chronic wasting disease, conservation funding and public input on management of wolves, black bears, ruffed grouse, waterfowl, trout, panfish, walleyes and lake sturgeon.



Skills & Expertise
Focus Groups

317 W. Jefferson Blvd.
Mishawaka, IN 46545
United States

Mobile Phone
Photo of Dr. Robert "Bob" Holsman


R3 Capacity Perceptions Versus Reality Study

There are many factors that impact hunting participation. Biological capacity often caps the number of hunters for big game animals while development and posted land reduces participation in all types of hunting. Hunters' perceptions of overcrowding and/or game scarcity, distances required to access hunting, plus mandatory hunter education might further dissuade participation. In addition, constant social attention on ‘trophy species’ might be reducing interest and participation in hunting for small game, waterfowl, and other species, especially among new recruits. Concerns have been heard that the outdoor media’s frequent focus on over-subscribed hunts and occasional questioning of the necessity of R3 programs can turn hunters against R3. These issues may eventually combine to cap hunters’ numbers, push out existing hunters when new hunters are recruited, and potentially grow opposition to R3 efforts. Considering national trends in applied R3 efforts, hunting participation and public perceptions cannot be affected by a single or even several organizations. The R3 community must work together to answer questions and implement any changes. With coordination and facilitation from the Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation, this project will bring together leading R3 organizations to discuss and prioritize the issues, oversee research, develop potential community responses and actions to address R3 capacity and perception issues, and ultimately oversee implementation.

state agency logo


Human Dimensions Research

Bob worked for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources as a social scientist where he completed dozens of studies on hunting and fishing. Recent examples include a statewide survey of fishing license holders' opinions on walleye regulations and a contributed chapter on hunter lapse as part of comprehensive evaluation on the impacts of crossbows to deer hunting.

Cover photo of WDNR Trout Management Plan


Wisconsin Trout Plan

Bob facilitated six day-long planning meetings with thirty stakeholder groups for the Wisconsin DNR's Trout Management Team. The planning sessions resulted in a 10-year plan that was approved with strong support from anglers, landowners, business leaders and others.

Cover Photo of National R3 Plan


National R3 Plan for Hunting and Shooting Sports

Dr. Holsman served on the plan writing committee for the first ever National R3 Plan at the request of the Council to Advance Shooting Sports and the Wildlife Management Institute. His contributions included the need to "move beyond the choir" when marketing mentor programs and an emphasis on standardized evaluations to track effectiveness of strategies.



University Professor

Dr. Holsman was a member of the wildlife faculty in the College of Natural Resources.  He received the Teacher of the Year Award in 2012.

He also holds dual bachelor's degrees in communication and political science, and a master's degree in environmental education from UW-Stevens Point.

MSU Logo


Ph.D. - Michigan State University

Department of Fisheries and Wildlife.

Dissertation: Stakeholder Values and Public Land Management in Southern Michigan