The Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission's Nongame Wildlife Program developed a ranking system to identify and prioritize those taxa within the state most in need of research and conservation efforts in order to focus limited staff and financial resources where they are most needed and can be most effective. Wading birds were identified as a priority group of taxa in need of conservation attention. An innovative plan was developed for addressing the conservation needs of that group. Components of the plan include a statewide nesting colonial wading bird survey, colony selection for inclusion in the project, colony site surveys, prioritization of selected colonies, development of site-specific conservation plans, development of general protection and management guidelines, establishment of a volunteer network to conduct management and monitoring activities, and evaluation. The plan will serve as a prototype for future projects involving other taxa identified in the ranking system as having priority conservation needs.