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Suncoast Pier Completion Marks Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s 200th Work Boots on the Ground Project

August 14, 2019 in Articles, Conservation News, Fishing, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) celebrated the completion of its 200th Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) project this week as union volunteers put the final touches on a new wheelchair-accessible boardwalk and fishing pier at the Suncoast Youth Conservation Center (SYCC) in Apollo Beach, Florida.

The multi-year, collaborative effort gives thousands of youth and their families opportunities to study, enjoy and appreciate the Gulf of Mexico’s inshore fish and wildlife resources.

The project is the USA’s largest to date and has drawn support from a coalition of public, private and union partners including the Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Southern States Millwright Regional Council, The Saunders Foundation, Frank E. Duckwall Foundation, Ben Hur Construction, Pure Fishing, TECO Energy and a number of local labor unions. 

Collectively, donations in funds, volunteer union labor, materials and other construction expenses topped $800,000. Volunteers alone donated more than 2,000 hours of skilled labor valued at over $100,000 to create the SYCC’S new boardwalk and pier.

Part of the FWC’s Florida Youth Conservation Centers Network (FYCCN), the SYCC is a marine-focused conservation education center on the eastern shore of Tampa Bay. The campus includes a 6,000-square-foot education facility and annually serves more than 11,000 youth and adults. 

The boardwalk and pier flank a restored saltwater pond and marsh adjacent to the educational complex. The new structure allows visitors to study coastal marine habitats. It also serves as the perfect platform to teach the joys of fishing, thereby supporting the FYCCN’s goal to create the next generation of conservationists by providing youth opportunities to participate in traditional outdoor activities that inspire lifelong stewardship for fish and wildlife conservation.

“We owe our deepest gratitude to all the skilled professionals who volunteered their time and talents at the FWC’s Suncoast Youth Conservation Center,” said FYCCN Director Rae Waddell. “The outstanding workmanship on this project will provide greater access to fishing and wildlife viewing opportunities for years to come. The generosity of our volunteers and partners in support of FYCCN’s mission means we’ll be able to engage more youth and families in the outdoors and conservation.”

Union volunteers completed work on a new boardwalk and fishing pier at the Suncoast Youth Conservation Center.

Wayne Jennings, Southern States Millwright Regional Council executive secretary treasurer, said the Millwrights were quick to support the project. “We were honored to partner with USA to assist with the construction of the Suncoast boardwalk,” he said. “The SSMRC is excited to give back to the community and we hope everyone enjoys the boardwalk for years to come. Together we can accomplish anything imaginable.”

Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida President and CEO Andrew Walker shared Jennings’ enthusiasm. “We were thrilled to be a partner on this project,” he said. “We are deeply committed to ensuring that nature and outdoor recreation are accessible to all, and this boardwalk does exactly that.”

Ben Hur Construction’s Jason Brown echoed those sentiments. “Ben Hur Construction would like to thank the USA for the opportunity to be a partner in such a rewarding project,” he said. “It was great to see so many organizations and individual people come together to deliver such a great project for the community. We look forward to working together in the future with the USA on other great projects.”

“We are excited to see the Suncoast pier come to life,” added Pure Fishing CEO Harlan Kent. “Providing accessible educational and outdoor activities for all children is a fundamental way to help grow their interest in the outdoors. We were pleased to be able to help support the USA with this initiative and look forward to seeing the local community enjoy the pier for many years to come.”       

Volunteers from the following unions and groups donated their time and talents to complete the project: Florida Gulf Coast Building Trades Council, IBEW International, IBEW Local 915, Insulators Local 67, Iron Workers Locals 7, 397 and 808, IUOE Local 487, Millwrights Local 1000, Roofers International, UA Local 123, United Brotherhood of Carpenters, Ben Hur Construction and U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor’s office.

The SYCC project exemplifies the WBG program, which unites labor union workers to complete conservation, public access, education, youth outreach and adult mentorship projects which would otherwise go undone.

Launched in 2010, the WBG program has since touched communities in 31 states. The value of volunteer labor donated through WBG topped the $1,000,000 mark in early 2019 and will soon surpass $1.5 million.

USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance is proud of these achievements, and is quick to note how the organization’s surge in growth is allowing the USA and its allies to complete a rising number of projects aimed at enriching the lives of community residents while protecting the nation’s outdoor heritage.

“We celebrated the completion of our 100th project in 2017 after seven years of doing the WBG program,” said Vance. “Now we are celebrating the completion of our 200th project just 20 months later. Not only has our number of WBG projects expanded rapidly, their scope and impact on conservation and local communities has increased dramatically as well.”

Construction of a new boardwalk and fishing pier at the Suncoast Youth Conservation Center will provide visitors of all ages and physical abilities with better access to the center’s hands-on recreational and educational programs.

The SYCC wrap-up comes on the heels of a number of other 2019 project completions, including public piers at the Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge just outside Liberty, Texas, and Harrison County Sheriff’s Office’s County Farm near Gulfport, Mississippi.

Union volunteers also recently completed shooting range improvements at Prince George’s County Trap and Skeet Center in Glenn Dale, Maryland, donated a pair of track chair-accessible ground blinds to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and repaired hurricane damage at Goose Island State Park near Corpus Christi, Texas. 

The USA has also orchestrated a flurry of youth outreach events in 2019. These include Get Youth Outdoors Day events—held in concert with the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s (NSSF) First Shots program—in Tennessee and Texas, along with Take Kids Fishing Day events in Colorado, Kentucky, Ohio, Minnesota, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin. “Additional events in 2019 will propel the USA’s youth programs to the incredible milestone of taking more than 10,000 kids fishing,” Vance noted. 

The USA has plenty of other WBG projects and events in the works for 2019 and beyond, including ongoing improvements at the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge in Philadelphia. A large-scale enhancement project is also planned for the William Powers State Recreation Area in southeast Chicago, which includes construction of an ADA-compliant fishing pier. 

Additional efforts range from the construction of a weigh station-pavilion on the shores of Smith Lake near Jasper, Alabama, to an archery range at North Marcum Recreation Area on Illinois’ Rend Lake and a pedestrian walkway in Prineville, Oregon.

“Our projects are changing lives, changing the way the public looks at unions and changing the way union members see themselves as local heroes and volunteers,” Vance said. “All of this is driven by an amazing team effort that includes the contributions of our founding partners, charter unions, corporate supporters, agency allies, staff and the hardworking union members who give up their weekends to offer their skills to give back to their communities.”

USA Co-Founder Kinsey Robinson Honored with Lifetime Achievement Award

August 13, 2019 in Articles, General, Press Release

United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers International President Kinsey Robinson (center, with wife Mona) was presented with the USA’s Lifetime Achievement Award by (from left) USA Director of Membership, Marketing and Communications Brian Dowler, USA Director of Union Relations Walt Ingram, USA President and CEO Scott Vance, AFL-CIO President and USA Board of Directors Chair Richard Trumka and USA Director of Conservation and Community Outreach Forrest Parker.

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) is proud to announce that one of its co-founders and current board members, Kinsey Robinson, international president of the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers, has been honored with the organization’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

The award recognizes Robinson’s leadership and service to the USA going back to the very beginning. In 2002 he was among a handful of union leaders who recognized that they should provide union members something beyond a secure future through collective bargaining—something that touched their personal and family lives in a meaningful way.

“Kinsey Robinson is one of the founding fathers of the USA,” said USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance. “He’s one of the guys who came up with the idea of a union-based conservation organization.”

“He’s responsible for the focus of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance,” added Tom Buffenbarger, retired president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. “Bringing together like-minded people from across the labor movement who love the outdoors.” 

The idea that was born in ’02 became a reality in 2007 with the launch of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance. Today the organization boasts nearly 300,000 members, each with the common goal of preserving North America’s outdoor heritage. 

“Union members understand the value of conservation and giving back to their local communities,” said Robinson, “And it makes me proud that they are willing to take up the challenge of protecting and restoring our natural environment.”

Under the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) program, union members donate their time and skills to restore and improve public recreational lands and waters in their communities, as well as to organize youth conservation and fishing activities, such as the Get Youth Outdoors Day events Robinson feels might be most important of all.

Robinson instructs a young shooter on the finer points of firearms handling at a USA Get Youth Outdoors Day event.

“Kinsey Robinson is the one who initiated our youth program at USA,” said AFL-CIO President and USA Board Chair Richard Trumka. “And he’s done more to help it reach young people than anybody else out there.”

Robinson sees it as a debt people today must pay to ensure the future. 

“We owe it to our youth to pass on our traditions and heritage of hunting, fishing and spending time in the great outdoors,” he said. “If we don’t preserve wildlife and the environment, they, and their own children, won’t have it to enjoy.” 

Getting kids involved at an early age is a key component to the process, he added.

“It’s important for them to understand how that heritage plays into conservation; how it’s important to the animals, the environment and the air we all breathe,” he said. “They will become the voters and the people who will set the direction in the future. That’s why we must spend so much time with them now. It’s a great responsibility.”

As a longtime USA board member and current board treasurer, Robinson has, and does, play a vital role in setting policy and mapping out organizational goals. He’s also a familiar face, volunteer and participant at USA events across the country.

“Kinsey means so much to the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance,” said Vance. “We can’t thank him enough for what he’s done for the USA over the years, but the Lifetime Achievement Award is one way we can express how much we appreciate him.”

“I’m extremely honored,” said Robinson upon receiving the award, which was presented at the organization’s recent Fundraiser Gala in Washington, D.C. “The people who make up the USA are very special, and while I’m deeply involved in the conservation mission, knowing the type of people who came together to honor me—well, it just makes it that much better.”

Irby Named Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Chief Financial Officer

August 12, 2019 in Articles, Press Release

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) has positioned itself for continued growth with the hiring of Lisa Irby as the organization’s new chief financial officer.

With an extensive background in finance, accounting, operations and more, Irby brings a wealth of experience to fuel the USA’s efforts to unite labor union members for conservation and community service.

Irby’s career includes nearly 10 years with Ducks Unlimited, first as the organization’s Great Plains director for conservation services and finance, then as director for conservation operations—a position that required managing multiple facets of Ducks Unlimited’s national business plan, operations, finance and mission delivery. 

Irby has also owned and managed her own private marketing, media and publications business, and most recently served as the chief financial officer for Mission UpReach in Honduras. 

“To effectively help union members serve their communities and preserve our outdoor heritage, we need strong leadership, something Lisa Irby has demonstrated throughout her 30-plus-year career,” said USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance. “With her diverse experience, union roots and outdoors background, she brings to the table everything it takes to succeed and help us meet our goals. It is my honor and pleasure to welcome Lisa to our team as our new chief financial officer.”

The founding principles of the USA run throughout Irby’s life. She grew up in a union family and was introduced to the outdoors early on while hunting with her father. These experiences laid the groundwork for a career based largely in non-profit work and advocacy for the conservation of natural resources. Irby and her husband, John, have four grown sons. They enjoy spending family time at their cabin in northern Georgia and are active in their local church.

“The USA’s focus of engaging and unifying people in conservation is one of the things that drew me to the organization⎼especially introducing youth to traditional outdoor sports,” Irby said. “I look forward to working with this team and growing the reach of USA.”

Maryland IUEC Member Stalks British Columbia Bruins on USA’s Brotherhood Outdoors TV

August 8, 2019 in Brotherhood Outdoors TV, General, Hunting, Press Release

Gordie Ingram of Sharpsburg, Maryland, treks cross-country to the rugged Pacific Coast in search of a trophy black bear on an exciting episode of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s (USA) Brotherhood Outdoors television series airing on the Sportsman Channel the week of August 12.

A proud member of the International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC) District 10, Ingram is the father of three active youngsters, a little league baseball coach and serves his community as a volunteer firefighter. Forever on the go at work and at home, Ingram hasn’t let a busy schedule still a lifelong desire to head west in pursuit of big game, however.

His dream comes true when Brotherhood Outdoors TV takes him to Vancouver Island, British Columbia, with its 12,000 square miles of timbered mountains and a population of more than 7,000 black bears. The island’s particular sub species of bear is darker and grows bigger than its cousins on the mainland, making this place a world-class destination for bear hunters everywhere.

Join Ingram on the Sportsman Channel Tuesday, August 13 at 4 p.m. Eastern as he, USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance and Todd Bissendorf of Coastal Bear Adventures spot-and-stalk behemoth bruins through the rugged wilderness in search of a trophy boar. Then, follow along as Ingram heads back to Maryland where he and his oldest son Bryce embark on the boy’s first chartered fishing trip for rockfish on Chesapeake Bay.

Vancouver Island’s super-size bruins make it a world-class bear hunting destination.

If you miss the first broadcast, catch one of this breathtaking episode’s re-airings on Wednesday at 11:30 a.m., Saturday at 1:30 a.m. or Sunday at 11 a.m. Eastern.

Produced by Rusted Rooster Media, Brotherhood Outdoors invites hardworking and deserving union members on fishing or hunting adventures of a lifetime. During season 11, viewers can join guests in pursuit of British Columbia black bears, permit and bonefish in Mexico, giant bucks and waterfowl in Saskatchewan, South Dakota ringneck pheasants and more.

Every episode of Brotherhood Outdoors also takes viewers to the homes, communities and jobsites of these tireless American workers for an inspirational glimpse at their backstories before heading onto the water or into the field. Along the way, the show also offers snapshots of the USA’s community-based conservation, public access, outreach and mentorship efforts by a dedicated, all-volunteer union labor force.

For a complete listing of all upcoming episodes, visit https://www.thesportsmanchannel.com/show/brotherhood-outdoors/81966. To watch episodes online, visit www.myoutdoortv.com.

Presented by Bank of Labor, Brotherhood Outdoors is also sponsored by the following unions, contractors and corporate partners: Buck Knives, Carhartt, International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, National Electrical Contractors Association, and United Association/International Training Fund’s Veterans in Piping Program.

Brotherhood Outdoors TV Features Michigan UWUA Member In Pursuit Of Trophy Whitetails

August 2, 2019 in Articles, Brotherhood Outdoors TV, Press Release

Jordan Winans of Laingsburg, Michigan, travels to one of the continent’s big buck hotspots to target monster whitetails on an episode of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s (USA) Brotherhood Outdoors television series airing the week of August 5 on the Sportsman Channel.

A wind power technician and member of Utility Workers Union of America Local 104, Winans services giant wind-driven turbines high above the earth to help keep the lights on in millions of homes across the grid.

When his boots are on the ground, Winans spends as much time as possible in outdoor pursuits including chasing largemouth bass and walleyes, but his favorite pastime by far is scouting and bowhunting Michigan’s whitetail deer.

To fulfill his lifelong dream of matching wits with a monster buck, Winans travels to the legendary bluff country of Buffalo County, Wisconsin, and Winona County, Minnesota. Nestled in the rugged yet fertile Driftless Region untouched by glaciers in the last Ice Age, the counties are famous for producing record-book bucks.

The breathtaking terrain where Winans’ adventure occurs is unlike anywhere he’s hunted in his home state, and the bluffland bucks are considerably older and wiser, too. With the aid of his Schuhter’s Outpost host, he sets out in search of a giant.

Winans double-checks his bow before heading into the bluff country.

Tune in to the Sportsman Channel Tuesday, August 6 at 4:30 p.m. Eastern to join this hardworking union member and avid bowhunter on his quest to take a 150-class or better whitetail in the land of legendary bucks. Then, tag along as the cameras follow Winans back to Michigan where he and his father host a military veteran during the annual Walleyes For Warriors fishing event on Saginaw Bay.

Viewers can also catch one of the episode’s re-airings on Wednesday at 11 a.m., Saturday at 1:30 a.m. or Sunday at 11 a.m. Eastern.

Produced by Rusted Rooster Media, Brotherhood Outdoors is now in its 11th season of inviting hardworking and deserving union members on fishing or hunting adventures of a lifetime.

As Season 11 continues, viewers can tag along with guests in pursuit of black bears on Vancouver Island, permit and bonefish in Mexico, giant bucks and waterfowl in Saskatchewan and more.

Every episode of Brotherhood Outdoors also takes viewers to the homes, communities and jobsites of these tireless American workers for an inspirational glimpse at their backstories before heading onto the water or into the field. Along the way, the show also offers snapshots of the USA’s community-based conservation, public access, outreach and mentorship efforts by a dedicated, all-volunteer union labor force.

For a complete listing of all upcoming episodes, visit http://www.thesportsmanchannel.com/shows/brotherhood-outdoors. To watch episodes online, visit www.myoutdoortv.com.

Presented by Bank of Labor, Brotherhood Outdoors is also sponsored by the following unions, contractors and corporate partners: Buck Knives, Carhartt, International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, National Electrical Contractors Association, and United Association/International Training Fund’s Veterans in Piping Program.

The Driftless Region of Minnesota and Wisconsin is famous for producing world-class whitetails.

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Honors UWUA Local 335 Member Allan Bathon with Conservation Steward of the Year Award

July 30, 2019 in Articles, Conservation News, General, Press Release

USA Director of Membership, Marketing and Communications Brian Dowler (L) presented Local 335 President Allan Bathon with the 2019 UWUA Conservation Steward of the Year Award.

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) has honored Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) Local 335 President Allan Bathon with the 2019 UWUA Conservation Steward of the Year Award for his exemplary commitment to conservation and community service. 

The award recognizes volunteers from each of the USA’s charter unions who have made exceptional contributions to the USA’s efforts to organize union volunteers to donate their time and unique trade skills to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage.

Bathon, of Florissant, Missouri, championed the revitalization of public access to the Meramec River at Minnie Ha Ha Park in Sunset Hills, Missouri. 

The effort began in early 2017, when Bathon spearheaded a USA Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) project in which union volunteers from Missouri American Water and UWUA Local 335 tore out and replaced the original ramp, which was built in the 1940s and in poor condition. 

Unfortunately, less than a week after it was completed, catastrophic flooding damaged 90 percent of new structure beyond repair. Undeterred, Bathon helped devise a new design to stand up to future flood waters, and rallied union volunteers to rebuild the ramp, which was completed for the second time on August 13, 2017. In all, volunteers donated more than 500 hours of labor to make the new ramp a reality. 

Funded through a $35,000 grant from the American Water Charitable Foundation, the new facility was named the Ron Schneider Boat Ramp to honor a longtime UWUA member who aided the initial rebuild. Bathon also organized the ramp’s official dedication celebration in April of 2018, which included a family outdoors day that drew more than 250 participants.

Bathon spearheaded the USA’s public access project on the Meramec River at Minnie Ha Ha Park in Sunset Hills, Missouri.

“Allan has repeatedly proven himself a leader willing to step forward and make things better, both in the workplace and his community,” said USA Director of Union Relations Walt Ingram. “He brought UWUA Local 335 and its members together to work with Missouri American Water to complete a fantastic community service project at Minnie Ha Ha park. The new ramp will benefit local residents for decades to come. The benefits of Allan’s leadership in conservation far exceed this single project, however. They extend all the way to the UWUA International and our national partnership with American Water.”

USA Director of Membership, Marketing and Communications Brian Dowler presented Bathon with the award July 26, 2019 at the UWUA’s 31st Constitutional Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“I am honored to receive this award,” Bathon said. “But it’s not my honor alone.  It belongs to everyone who put in a lot of hard work on this project.”

Bathon explained that creating opportunities for community members to enjoy the outdoors was a major motivation for he and other union volunteers involved in the Minnie Ha Ha ramp project. “We’re blessed with natural resources like the Meramec, Mississippi and Missouri rivers in our area, but work needs to be done for people to access them,” he said. “We decided to step up our game and start making it happen—and look forward to completing additional projects in the future.”

The Conservation Steward of the Year selection process begins with the nomination of potential recipients by peers or union leadership. From this pool of nominees, USA staff select individuals who have had the greatest impact on the USA’s mission, represented their unions in the most exemplary fashion, and made the biggest difference in their local community.

USA, RBFF, Union Volunteers Unite to Build Public Fishing Pier in Harrison County, Mississippi

July 25, 2019 in Conservation News, Fishing, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

Fishing just got better at the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office’s County Farm near Gulfport, Mississippi.

Labor union members, the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) and Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF) joined forces to create a new fully accessible public fishing pier at the property, which hosts hundreds of local residents every season. 

Designed to give community members of all ages and physical abilities improved access to the farm’s popular fishing pond—home to an abundance of catfish, panfish and bass—the new floating pier stretches 100 feet from the shoreline and features a 50-foot “T” on the end.

“Research shows that accessibility is key to growing fishing participation,” said RBFF President and CEO Frank Peterson. “We are pleased to partner with the USA to bring a fun, safe fishing opportunity to such a popular location, encouraging strong participation for generations to come.”

Union volunteers united by the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground program (WBG) installed the user-friendly structure, along with a concrete sidewalk running from the parking area to the pier, and a lakeside fish-cleaning station complete with running water and electricity. 

Union volunteers installed a new floating fishing pier, fish cleaning station, sidewalk and pier abutment at the Harrison County Sheriff’s County Farm.

To get the job done, volunteers from United Association Local 568, International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local 6 and United Brotherhood of Carpenters Local 1846 donated more than 200 hours of skilled labor valued at over $10,000 to the project. 

Materials were purchased with nearly $20,000 from the Mississippi Building and Construction Trades Council’s annual USA Conservation Dinner and $2,500 from RBFF. Harrison County provided $5,000 to cover the cost of a dock extension at the request of the Sheriff’s Office.

UA Local 568 Business Manager Kevin Cruso, who served as local project leader, said organizers were inspired to build the pier after seeing physically challenged park visitors watching from the sidelines as others fished from the pond’s hard-to-navigate bank.

“We thought it would make their day to be able to catch a fish or two, and really improve the facility’s fishing opportunities overall,” he said. “So we approached the Sheriff’s Office with the idea of building a pier everyone could use, and they loved it.”

“We can’t thank the union volunteers or Union Sportsmen’s Alliance enough for building this,” said Harrison County Sheriff Troy Peterson. “This is not for departmental use, it is for everyone in the community—including handicapped residents who want to go fishing.”

Peterson noted that the new pier will be a perfect addition to the Sheriff’s Office’s annual Youth Fishing Rodeo, which draws more than 300 children from all walks of life. “We have kids from the city, the county and everywhere in between come out and enjoy a day of fishing,” he said. “We will definitely use the pier for this event. Plus, local residents can come out and fish from it year-round.”

An official dedication ceremony is planned for October 12, in conjunction with the 2019 Harrison County Sheriff’s Youth Fishing Rodeo. The USA will join a number of local and national partners in sponsoring this event.

Mauk Named Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Volunteer Of The Year

July 24, 2019 in Articles, Conservation News, Press Release

Ohio AFL-CIO Field Director Jeanette Mauk (fourth from left) was presented the USA Volunteer of the Year Award by (from left) AFL-CIO President and USA Board of Directors Chair Richard Trumka, USA Director of Conservation and Community Outreach Forrest Parker, USA President and CEO Scott Vance, and USA Director of Union Relations Walt Ingram.

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) has honored Ohio AFL-CIO Field Director Jeanette Mauk with the organization’s Volunteer of the Year Award for her tireless commitment to conservation, community service and solidarity.

Mauk, of Dayton, Ohio, is a vested member of the Industrial Division of the Communications Workers of America (IUE-CWA), which is a USA charter union, and is also a member of the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 98. 

She has a long track record of volunteering her time and talents to organize projects and special events through the USA’s Work Boots on the ground program. For example, she was instrumental in the Lakeside Lake renovation project in West Dayton, rallying more than 100 union and community volunteers to clear trash and invasive vegetation, assemble a fishing pier and install custom park benches.

In 2018, Mauk played a key role in organizing USA Take Kids Fishing Day events in Marietta, Dayton, West Portsmouth and Portsmouth, and assisted the Chillicothe Fire Department with its Fish With A Firefighter Day—all with help of union volunteers. 

In addition, she has shepherded and grown the USA’s Ohio State Conservation Dinner in Columbus for seven years, raising funds for multiple projects, including the construction of the Black Fork Wetlands Environmental Studies Center at Ashland University.

“Our Volunteer of the Year Award goes to someone who has gone above and beyond,” said USA President and CEO Scott Vance, “a person who is a role model for other volunteers. Someone who can get out front, motivate and inspire. Jeanette has all those qualities and more.”

Mauk began her union career in 1997 while working on an auto assembly line in Dayton. Starting out as a union steward, she worked her way into the local IUE-CWA office, then onto the staff of the Central Labor Council in Dayton. 

As state AFL-CIO field director, she travels Ohio working with all the Central Labor Councils, and takes every opportunity offered to talk about the USA and its mission. “I love the labor movement and am proud of the benefits it brings union members,” she said. “I also support the USA wholeheartedly because it’s a program that benefits not just union members, but their families and the communities as well. When people see my sincerity as I talk about it, I think they respond.”

Ohio claims 35,000 USA members, more than any other state, and the annual USA Conservation Dinner in Columbus, with more than 500 attendees, is the second largest in the country—thanks in part to Mauk’s efforts.

Upon receiving the Volunteer of the Year Award, she said, “This is awesome, and means a lot. But the real reward of being involved in the labor movement and working with the USA includes giving back to our communities, fostering solidarity among union members and building bridges between unions and the public. When you see what can be accomplished when everyone pulls together, it just makes you want to do more.” 

Ever humble, Mauk was quick to credit volunteers from local unions and the surrounding community for uniting to make the events and projects she has organized possible.

“I’m able to accomplish what we have here in Ohio on behalf of the Ohio AFL-CIO because of our great volunteers from all sectors of our labor unions, building trades and other groups within the community,” she said.

Mauk was presented the Volunteer of the Year Award July 16 during the USA’s Fundraising Gala in Washington, D.C.

American Water Charitable Foundation Awards $300,000 to Union Sportsmen’s Alliance

July 23, 2019 in Articles, Conservation News, Press Release

The new grant agreement will fund a variety of conservation and community access projects to be built by union volunteers, such as this public fishing pier constructed in 2018 through an AWCF-USA joint effort at Griffin Reservoir near Scranton, Pennsylvania.

The American Water Charitable Foundation (AWCF) and the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) are pleased to announce a $300,000 grant in support of their growing partnership and shared commitment to unite the union community in preservation of North America’s outdoor heritage. 

“The American Water Charitable Foundation is pleased to continue our support of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance through a multi-year grant directly benefiting the USA’s all-volunteer Work Boots on the Ground program,” said AWCF Chair Fred Myers. “Work Boots on the Ground brings union members and American Water employees together to volunteer their time and skills on water-related conservation projects that benefit the communities we serve. This has been a great partnership and we look forward to the next three years.”

“We are honored to continue working with American Water and the American Water Charitable Foundation,” said USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance. “The projects our union volunteers have already completed with their support, along with those that will be executed under this new agreement, will benefit local communities for years to come.”

The three-year grant agreement will support the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) conservation program, which unites labor union members to complete conservation, public access, education and outreach projects in communities across the country.

The new three-year grant agreement was announced on July 16 at the USA’s Fundraising Gala at AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, D.C. From left: Fred Myers, American Water vice president of Labor Affairs and AWCF chair; Scott Vance, USA president and CEO; Carrie Williams, AWCF president; Forrest Parker, USA director of Conservation and Community Outreach.

“American Water’s dedication to our shared mission has fueled the completion of a number of critical conservation and community access projects, and their continued support will help us expand our conservation and outreach programs nationwide,” added USA Director of Conservation and Community Outreach Forrest Parker.

Over the past two years, the USA and AWCF have collaborated on a series of projects to improve public facilities and enhance access to recreational waters. Their first joint effort resulted in the construction of a large boat storage structure at Harrison Bay State Park in Tennessee, which is used to shelter watercraft available for public use.

The organizations also joined forces to construct a non-motorized boat ramp at Minnie Ha Ha Park in Sunset Hills, Missouri, as well as wheelchair-accessible fishing piers on Griffin Reservoir near Scranton, Pennsylvania, and at Jacobson Park in Lexington, Kentucky.

The funding and volunteer union labor vital to the completion of these and other similar projects has been greatly appreciated by local agencies and municipalities, which in many cases would have put construction and restoration plans on hold due to budget constraints.

The new agreement will finance up to 10 additional projects, each involving the restoration of outdoor recreational sites, the creation of better access to outdoor areas, the enhancement of fish and wildlife habitat, or the introduction of new participants to outdoor activities.

The new three-year agreement was initially announced on July 16 at the USA’s Fundraising Gala at AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, D.C. The program will be administered by American Water’s nonprofit organization, the American Water Charitable Foundation (AWCF).

Brotherhood Outdoors TV Kicks Off Original Episodes with Action-Packed White River Adventure

July 18, 2019 in Brotherhood Outdoors TV, Fishing, Press Release

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) invites outdoors enthusiasts to catch the excitement as its award-winning Brotherhood Outdoors TV series whisks hardworking union members away on action-packed hunting and fishing adventures.

Produced by creative powerhouse Rusted Rooster Media, Brotherhood Outdoors puts the spotlight on union members who are as passionate about the outdoors as they are on keeping this country running. Each episode takes viewers to the homes, communities and jobsites of these tireless American workers for an inspirational glimpse at their backstories before heading onto the water or into the field.

Original episodes of the series’ 11th season kick off July 23, as John Stahl of Williamstown, New Jersey, savors the fantastic trout fishing of Arkansas’ famed White River.

Stahl, an apprentice training director for International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers (Insulators) Local 14, is a lifelong sportsman who enjoys hunting whitetail deer and fishing the waters near his home. 

Insulators member John Stahl is the guest of honor on an upcoming episode of Brotherhood Outdoors television.

When he’s not guiding soon-to-be journeymen and women through a rigorous and rewarding apprenticeship program, he spends much of his personal time organizing local conservation projects through the USA Work Boots on the Ground program, as well as the USA’s annual Tri-State Conservation Dinner.

During his exciting adventure, Stahl travels to Cotter, Arkansas, and the famed White River, where the cameras capture non-stop action with rainbow, cutthroat and brown trout, including his first-ever trophy brown caught on fly fishing gear. 

Catch all the action on the Sportsman Channel Tuesday, July 23 at 4 p.m. Eastern, or tune into one of the episode’s re-airings on Wednesday at 11 a.m., Saturday at 1:30 a.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m. Eastern.

As Season 11 of Brotherhood Outdoors continues, viewers can tag along with union members in pursuit of antelope in Wyoming, black bears on Vancouver Island, permit and bonefish in Mexico, giant bucks and waterfowl in Saskatchewan and more. Along the way, the show also offers snapshots of the USA’s community-based conservation, public access, outreach and mentorship efforts by a dedicated, all-volunteer union labor force.

The 2019 season includes 11 original episodes, which air on Sportsman Channel in the third and fourth quarters beginning July 23. For a complete listing of upcoming episodes, visit http://www.thesportsmanchannel.com/shows/brotherhood-outdoors. To watch episodes online, visit www.myoutdoortv.com.

Presented by Bank of Labor, Brotherhood Outdoors is also sponsored by the following unions, contractors and corporate partners: Buck Knives, Carhartt, International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, National Electrical Contractors Association, and United Association/International Training Fund’s Veterans in Piping Program.

USA, Union Volunteers Host Kentucky Youth Fishing Events

June 25, 2019 in Conservation News, Fishing, General, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

More than 70 Kentucky youth went fishing last Saturday, June 22, at Take Kids Fishing Day events hosted by the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA), International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) Local 110 and the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.

Held in Lexington, Louisville and Paducah, the events were part of a series of free, community-based youth outreach activities organized under Work Boots on the Ground—the USA’s flagship conservation program, and were supported by national conservation partners Provost Umphrey Law Firm, Pure Fishing, Plano Synergy and the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation.

More than 70 Kentucky youth experienced the joys of fishing last Saturday during free, union-organized Take Kids Fishing Day events.

The budding anglers had fun despite wet weather and, in one case, a storm that threatened to end things before they started. “In Paducah, an overnight storm dropped trees and limbs in Bob Noble Park,” said SMART Local 110 Manager Mark Adams. “But park employees managed to get them cleared in time for the event. It was a bit rainy during activities at every location, too, but all the children had a great time and a wonderful experience catching fish—mostly bluegills and crappies.”

Each youth who participated in one of the events received a free rod and reel from Pure Fishing and a pair of game calls from Plano Synergy. Volunteers from Local 110 then helped the youngsters bait hooks, and coached them in casting and landing the fish.

Overall, 74 young anglers participated, mentored by 36 union volunteers who donated more 150 hours of their time to plan and hold the events.

“We believe hosting activities like these is an important part of our function in the community,” explained Adams. “Not only to offer children a chance to go fishing, experience the outdoors and learn about conservation, but also to show our neighbors who we are and what our union is all about—supporting our neighbors while providing people with an opportunity for solid employment and a secure way of life.”

With help from the USA, union locals across the country hold Take Kids Fishing Day events that are free to children and their families. While they help strengthen ties between union workers and the people in their neighborhoods, the primary goal is to encourage young people to enjoy the outdoors and teach them about conserving and preserving natural resources.

“Many children these days don’t get a chance to go fishing or participate in outdoor activities in general,” said Robert Stroede, USA conservation manager. “We know that involving kids in outdoor pursuits early on helps them develop a lasting interest in environmental conservation. It passes on a love and respect for the outdoors to the next generation.”

ULLICO Earns USA Diamond Life Corporate Achievement Award

June 19, 2019 in Articles, General, Press Release

AFL-CIO President and USA Chairman of the Board Richard L. Trumka (L) presented ULLICO President and CEO Edward Smith with the Diamond Life Corporate Achievement Award..

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) proudly announces that founding partner Union Labor Life Insurance Company (ULLICO) of Washington, D.C., has received the organization’s prestigious Diamond Life Corporate Achievement Award.

The award is presented to industry partners and other allies that have surpassed the $1 million donor mark in supporting the USA’s mission to unite the union community through conservation to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage.

Along with sponsoring the USA Shooting Tour and USA Conservation Dinner program, ULLICO is also a long-time backer of the organization’s Fundraising Gala.

“ULLICO has always been an amazing partner to union members, labor unions and the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance,” said USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance. “In the field and behind the scenes, their leadership and staff have been strong and valuable allies, and ULLICO’s continued support helps form the foundation from which we have successfully advanced the USA’s mission impact and goals.”

“A great number of union members and their families enjoy hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation,” said Edward Smith, ULLICO president and CEO. “They also share a passion for conserving and preserving our outdoor heritage, just as they share the bond of brotherhood and sisterhood in the labor movement.

“In honor of their commitment to preserving our natural resources and their desire to introduce others to the wonders of the outdoors, ULLICO became one of the original partners of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance,” Smith continued. “And it’s a partnership we look forward to keeping for a long time to come.”

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Honors Insulators Local 14 Member John Stahl with Conservation Steward of the Year Award

June 18, 2019 in Articles, Conservation News, General, Press Release

Insulators General President James “Bud” McCourt (L) and USA Director of Union Relations Walt Ingram (R) presented John Stahl with the Conservation Steward of the Year Award.

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) has honored International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers (Insulators) Local 14 Member John Stahl with the 2019 Insulators Conservation Steward of the Year Award for his exemplary commitment to conservation and community service.

The award recognizes volunteers from each of the USA’s charter unions who have made exceptional contributions to the USA’s efforts to organize union volunteers to donate their time and unique trade skills to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage.

Stahl, of Williamstown, New Jersey, oversees the apprenticeship program of Insulators Local 14. He shepherded the USA’s John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge enhancement project, in which union volunteers with Insulators Local 14, IUPAT DC 21 and Operating Engineers Local 542 in 2018 donated 691 hours of skilled labor valued at more than $36,000 on a kayak launch dock, observation tower improvements and road repairs. Machinery usage valued at $20,000 pushed the total project value over $56,000. With work continuing in 2019, the value of refuge improvements that benefit local residents continues to climb.

Among his accomplishments, Stahl has shepherded the USA’s John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge enhancement project, which so far has resulted in the creation of a kayak launch dock, observation tower improvements and road repairs.

“It is truly heartwarming to see how volunteers from the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance mobilized to help improve the visitor experience for everyone at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge,” said Margaret Everson, principal deputy director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “I greatly appreciate their efforts, which are symbolic of how much the refuge is part of the local community.”

“Whether organizing a project or rolling up his sleeves on site, John leads by example,” said USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance. “In addition to his efforts with the John Heinz project, he has been a driving force in the USA’s Annual Tri-State Conservation Dinner since its inception. He also helped organize the construction of more than 100 pheasant transport boxes for the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, aiding the release of pheasants for public hunting on more than 20 wildlife management areas around the state.”

“I am grateful and humbled to receive this award,” Stahl said. “It was very much appreciated but not expected. I don’t do this for the recognition. I enjoy giving back, and my biggest motivator is having unions and their members involved in their communities.”

The Conservation Steward of the Year selection process begins with the nomination of potential recipients by peers or union leadership. From this pool of nominees, USA staff select individuals who have had the greatest impact on the USA’s mission, represented their unions in the most exemplary fashion, and made the biggest difference in their local community.

USA Joins Effort to Expand Rend Lake Recreational Opportunities

June 17, 2019 in Articles, Conservation News, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

USACE St. Louis District Commander Col. Bryan Sizemore (center, in uniform ) and partners who helped complete the Pollinator Trail Project at North Marcum Recreation Area cut a ceremonial ribbon to celebrate the trail opening to the public. The group also announced plans to further expand recreational opportunities with a new archery range, and the addition of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance to the team of project supporters.

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) has joined ongoing efforts to expand recreational opportunities at North Marcum Recreation Area on Rend Lake near Benton, Illinois.

A coalition of partners including the USA, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), local labor unions, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), Rend Lake College, Rend Lake Bike Club, Scholastic 3-D Archery and Rend Lake Conservancy District have pledged to help build and maintain a state-of-the-art archery range at the popular public day use area.

The handicap-accessible, sheltered archery range will feature over a dozen targets plus an elevated shooting platform, along with a 3-D archery course and 12-mile mountain bike trail.

“We have had such wonderful experiences working with our local unions on past projects, and look forward to continuing this strong partnership in the future,” said USACE Natural Resources Specialist Cassie Magsig. “Today we signed a partnership agreement with the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance, representing several labor unions, and five other local stakeholder groups to begin the next improvement project for the North Marcum multiple resource area. Rend Lake greatly appreciates the continuous dedication and efforts made by these incredible partners and friends.”

Labor union members donated their time and talents to create the new Pollinator Trail at North Marcum.

The partnership was announced at a ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the grand opening of the new Pollinator Trail at North Marcum, featuring a rejuvenated pond complete with four fully-accessible fishing stations. The 1,200-foot trail encircles the pond and is surrounded by five acres of native grass and plants that attract insects, birds and other wildlife that can be viewed from the trail. The pond was dredged and expanded to improve habitat for gamefish and other wildlife species.

While the USACE covered part of the cost of the project, other partners including local labor unions donated time, materials and equipment to bring it to conclusion, according to Jim Hobbie of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA).

“We have a very close relationship with the USACE on Rend Lake,” he said, “and jumped at the chance to help with this important project.”

Along with LIUNA Local 773, volunteers from the Carpenters Regional Council, Operative Plasterers’ and Cement Masons’ International Association, the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 318, Lake Contracting, Erb Equipment and Ryterski Trucking all played a part in the planning and construction, donating well over 100 hours of time to the expansion, he explained.

Construction on the archery range project is expected to begin shortly, with an opening date yet to be determined.

USA Honors IBEW Local 322 Organizer with Conservation Steward of the Year Award

June 12, 2019 in Articles, Conservation News, Press Release

Johnson spearheaded the creation of a fence-crossing structure near Etna, Wyoming, which helps wildlife managers maintain healthy herds of free-ranging elk.

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) has honored Bruce Johnson of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 322 with the 2019 IBEW Conservation Steward of the Year Award for his exemplary commitment to conservation and community service.

The award recognizes volunteers from each of the USA’s charter unions who make exceptional contributions to the USA’s efforts to organize union volunteers to donate their time and unique trade skills in the preservation of North America’s outdoor heritage.

Johnson, of Lander, Wyoming, is an organizer with Local 322 and has been an IBEW member since 1980.

His conservation accomplishments with USA projects include spearheading the creation of a custom fence-crossing structure near Etna, Wyoming, which helps state wildlife managers maintain healthy herds of free-ranging elk while protecting farmers’ crops from damage.

USA Director of Union Relations Walt Ingram (R) presented Johnson with the award at the IBEW Construction and Maintenance Conference in Washington, D.C.

Johnson was also integral in the construction of a 20×26-foot storage shed—nicknamed the “Shed Shed”–that gave Wyoming’s National Elk Refuge a central facility in which to store thousands of pounds of dropped elk antlers (sheds) each season. Through a partnership with the Jackson District Boy Scouts, the antlers are sold at auction to fund habitat enhancement and elk management on the refuge.

“I’m honored to receive this award,” said Johnson. “The IBEW members who came together and volunteered to build those projects deserve as much recognition as I do. They’re the ones who actually made it happen, so kudos to them.”

“I’m also really thankful to the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance for giving us the opportunity to use conservation, fishing and hunting to bring union members together, build relationships with non-union allies and remind our neighbors that we are part of the community–and we do care,” he added.

“Bruce is a dedicated conservationist and volunteer whose leadership helps us execute projects that benefit wildlife populations cherished by his local community and sportsmen across the country,” said USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance. “His commitment exemplifies the spirit of union solidarity and community service that drives the USA’s mission.”

The Conservation Steward of the Year selection process begins with the nomination of potential recipients by peers or union leadership. From this pool of nominees, USA staff select individuals who have had the greatest impact on the USA’s mission, represented their unions in the most exemplary fashion, and made the biggest difference in their local community.

Union Volunteers Make Salt Lake City Area Take Kids Fishing Event A Success

June 11, 2019 in Articles, Conservation News, Fishing, General, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

The waters of Fairmont Park Pond were the backdrop for more than 80 young anglers and their families who gathered on June 8, 2019, for the inaugural Salt Lake City Area Take Kids Fishing Day event, a cooperative effort between the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA), Utah Building and Construction Trades Council (BCTC) and Salt Lake City Trails and Natural Lands.

Union volunteers from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 354 and International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 3 donated their time and expertise to introduce both kids and adults to fishing and make their time on the water a success. Each youth received a free rod and reel courtesy of Pure Fishing, as well as a gift bag with other items including game calls donated by Plano Synergy.

The Salt Lake City-area event was part of a series of free, community-based youth outreach activities organized under Work Boots on the Ground—the USA’s flagship conservation program. It was also supported by national conservation partners Provost Umphrey Law Firm, Pure Fishing, Plano Synergy and the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation.

The USA supplied all bait and tackle needed for the budding anglers to bring in plenty of rainbow trout and catfish, which are stocked in Fairmont Park’s pond by the Utah Division of Wildlife as part of its community fishing program. After the fishing, all participants and their families enjoyed a picnic lunch at no cost.

Smiles were catchy when more than 80 youth and their families enjoyed the Salt Lake City Area Take Kids Fishing Day June 8.

Local event coordinator, union organizer and IBEW member Brad Baugh said the inaugural Salt Lake City-area event was a resounding success.

“It went very smooth and was well attended,” he said. “We had a whole bunch of people who’d never fished or were coming back to fishing after a long absence, so they were really excited about it—especially about being able to take home a new rod and reel. It was great to see grandparents fishing with their grandkids and taking trout home to eat for dinner.”

According to Baugh, events like this do far more than make memories in terms of shaping attitudes.

“A lot of times we talk to people who have negative opinions about unions,” he said. “When people have such a positive experience with a union-organized event, it helps them realize we’re all the same, and that we’re good people trying to make a living.”

Baugh also said the positive results of this year’s event and the smiling faces of all those who participated laid the groundwork for more Take Kids Fishing Days in years to come. “It was our first time, but we’re looking forward to doing a lot more,” he said.

USA Conservation Manager Robert Stroede estimated that 60 to 70 percent of the participants had never fished before. “Reaching these children is one of the reasons Take Kids Fishing Day events are so important to us,” he said. “Because research shows that youth who are introduced to fishing before the age of 14 are more likely to adopt it as a lifelong pastime.

“This is also a great example of what can be accomplished when local labor unions, union volunteers and partners like Salt Lake City Trails and Natural Lands and the Utah Division of Wildlife join forces with the USA and our national supporters to make a difference in the lives of children and their communities,” he added.

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Hosts Family Campout at Montgomery Bell State Park

June 10, 2019 in Articles, Conservation News, Fishing, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

Participants enjoyed a youth fishing derby during the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s Family Campout at Montgomery Bell State Park.

More than 70 youngsters and their families joined union volunteers for a weekend packed with conservation-related activities during the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s (USA) third annual Family Campout at Montgomery Bell State Park in Burns, Tenn., June 8 and 9.

The weekend included variety of engaging outdoor experiences including a snake exhibition, youth fishing derby, hiking and an instructional archery event. Along with the free events, free lodging and delicious meals enjoyed by all participants, youth also received a rod and reel courtesy of Pure Fishing and game calls provided by Plano Synergy. Organized by the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance, the event was supported by the Nashville Building and Construction Trades Council (BCTC), Tennessee AFL-CIO Labor Council, Montgomery Bell State Park and Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

The Montgomery Bell campout was part of a series of free, community-based outreach activities organized under Work Boots on the Ground—the USA’s flagship conservation program. It was also supported by national conservation partners Provost Umphrey Law Firm, Pure Fishing, Plano Synergy and the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation.

USA Conservation Coordinator Cody Campbell felt the event went well and noted its importance to families new to outdoor recreation.

Archery was also on the agenda for young campers.

“It was extremely rewarding to see youth and parents enjoy themselves outdoors together, especially those who’ve never experienced these traditional outdoor activities or gotten close to nature,” said Campbell. “We opened the door to a whole new world for them and provided the tools and confidence to continue exploring it.”

One parent told Campbell the weekend-long event was, “Our first experience camping, fishing and spending time outdoors as a family.” Another said bringing his family to the campout, “Really brought us all together.”

While volunteering at the event, Nashville BCTC President Anthony Nicholson was reminded of the benefits union members enjoy while giving back to their communities and encouraging young people to get outdoors.

“Some of these children had never fished before, never owned a fishing pole or even sat by a campfire,” he said. “Getting together with other union members to introduce them to these experiences was priceless.”

USA, Union Volunteers Host More Than 400 Youth at June 1-2 Fishing Events

June 4, 2019 in Articles, Fishing, General, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

More than 400 Wisconsin and Tennessee youth went fishing last weekend — many for the very first time — thanks to the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA), dozens of volunteers from local labor unions and a consortium of partners dedicated to introducing kids to the joys of fishing.

The union-led community events, held June 1-2 in La Crosse, Eau Claire, Madison and Janesville, Wisc., and Spring Hill, Tenn., were all part of the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground conservation program, which organizes free Take Kids Fishing Days and other youth outreach events across the country. The events are supported by local and international labor unions and national conservation partners Provost Umphrey Law Firm, Pure Fishing, Plano Synergy and the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation.

Each child who participated received a free rod and reel from Pure Fishing and a pair of game calls from Plano Synergy. Union volunteers ranging from electricians and machinists to engineers and fire fighters helped them rig up, bait up and start fishing. Afterward, union volunteers prepared a picnic-style lunch for the young anglers and their families.

“The USA, in cooperation with labor unions in each area, holds Take Kids Fishing Day activities in many locations each year, but this was by far our biggest weekend,” said USA Conservation Manager Robert Stroede.

More than 400 youth enjoyed fishing at USA Take Kids Fishing Day events last weekend in Wisconsin and Tennessee.

While the community-outreach Take Kids Fishing Day events are designed to strengthen ties between local unions, union workers and the people in their neighborhoods, the main focus is encouraging young people to enjoy the outdoors and develop an interest in conserving natural resources.

“Many children today don’t get the chance to go fishing, hunting, camping, or do any of the outdoor activities we all did when we were young,” said Robert Potter, president of the South Central Wisconsin Building and Construction Trades Council, which sponsored and hosted the Madison and Janesville events. “And we think it’s pretty important to provide those types of opportunities.”

“Research shows that outdoor activities such as fishing encourage kids to develop an interest in environmental conservation,” Stroede added. “And introducing them to the sport at a young age makes it more likely that they’ll continue to participate as adults.

“Through special excise taxes, sportfishing funds fisheries conservation and public water access projects to the tune of $600 million per year,” he noted. “So we need to ensure the next generation of anglers has a solid foothold when starting along that path.”

Western Wisconsin AFL-CIO President Tyler Tubbs said teaching children about the sport and seeing their excitement at reeling in a fish makes volunteering a labor of love. “When a little kid pulls up a little fish, it’s like a 30-inch walleye to her,” he said. “Something so small gives youth so much satisfaction. That, in and of itself, makes giving our time totally worth it.”

Union Insurance Group Receives USA Diamond Life Corporate Achievement Award

May 29, 2019 in Articles, Conservation News, General, Press Release

UIG is a longtime supporter of the USA’s shooting tour, conservation dinners and other events.

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) proudly announces that founding partner Union Insurance Group (UIG) of Chicago, Illinois, has received the organization’s prestigious Diamond Life Corporate Achievement Award.

The award is presented to industry partners and other allies that surpass the $1 million donor mark in supporting the USA’s mission to unite the union community through conservation to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage.

UIG President Chris DeCaigny

“From the very beginning, UIG has been a great founding partner in the truest sense of these words,” said USA CEO & Executive Director Scott Vance. “UIG President Chris DeCaigny and Vice President Brad Spiess have led by great example, and the entire UIG staff has followed their lead. They have specialized in seeing needs this organization has, then stepping up to help provide solutions to fulfill our mission.”

Along with providing financial support for the USA’s shooting tour, conservation dinners and other events, UIG has also taken a “helpful, hands-on position,” Vance added, “by sending representatives to many of those same events.”

“For three years, UIG staff members have traveled at UIG’s expense to nearly every one of our dinners and shoots,” explained USA Director of Union Relations Walt Ingram. “They have been on site from set-up to tear-down. Having extra sets of experienced hands has made a big difference at individual events and benefited the entire conservation dinner program.”

“Supporting the Labor Movement is profoundly important to Union Insurance Group,” said DeCaigny, “And we are honored to receive this award from the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance, which does so much for, and with, America’s labor organizations to help protect and restore our natural environment. From the very beginning, we’ve always strongly believed in the collective power of unions to make an enormous impact on preserving our great land by carrying out the mission of the USA.”

“Without a doubt,” Ingram concluded, “UIG has been a faithful and loyal partner to the USA, and we look forward to many more years of great success working together.”

USA, IBEW Host Colorado Springs Area Take Kids Fishing Day

April 30, 2019 in Conservation News, Fishing, General, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

More than 40 young anglers and their families lined the water at scenic Manitou Lake, Colorado, Saturday, April 27 to learn about fishing firsthand during the free Colorado Springs Area Take Kids Fishing Day.

Organized by the Union Sportsman’s Alliance (USA) and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 113, the free event was aimed at introducing the next generation of anglers and conservationists to the joys of fishing.

The Colorado Springs-area event was the latest in a series of free, community-based youth outreach activities held as part of Work Boots on the Ground, the USA’s flagship conservation program. It was produced with support from USA national conservation partners Provost Umphrey Law Firm, Pure Fishing and the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation.

More than 40 youngsters learned the joys of fishing firsthand at the Colorado Springs Area Take Kids Fishing Day.

Each of the young anglers received a free fishing rod and reel courtesy of Pure Fishing, to ensure that everyone had a chance to participate and hopefully continue fishing for years after. They also received game calls courtesy of Plano Synergy, a partner in the event. Along with the rods and reels, prizes were given out throughout the day for categories such as first fish, last fish, largest fish and smallest fish. Burgers and hot dogs were also provided for free to finish off the day.

IBEW organizer Daniel Mondragon thought the event went very well and called it, “a very successful day.” He added that not only did the kids have a great time, the 17 volunteers present benefitted from the event as well, getting to share their love of fishing with those in attendance.

“I think in general it’s great for local unions to engage in the community and let them know who we are,” said Mondragon. “We’re about family and we’re about engaging with the community and this was an opportunity to teach kids a little bit about fishing and get them outdoors.”

Mondragon noted that holding such events gives union members a chance to know the reward of teaching a young person to fish.

“It’s very gratifying when you teach a kid how to do something and see them succeed or make progress in whatever you’re helping them with,” said Mondragon.

USA Conservation Manager Robert Stroede noted how such outreach events, “Give youth and their parents an opportunity to get out and experience something they might not do on their own.

“These events also provide great opportunities for union members to connect with and give back to their communities,” Stroede added.

USA, NSSF Hold Houston Area Get Youth Outdoors Day

April 30, 2019 in Conservation News, General, Hunting, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

The nonprofit Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA), National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), members of United Association (UA) Plumbers Local 68 and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Locals 716 and 66 joined forces April 28 to host nearly 50 Houston-area youngsters during the free Get Youth Outdoors Day at the American Shooting Center in Houston, Texas.

The event, organized by the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground conservation program and supported by NSSF, Savage Arms, Provost Umphrey Law Firm, Pure Fishing and the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, was open to boys and girls ages 9 to 15 who each received hands-on introductions to trap shooting, rimfire rifle shooting and archery.

“All the kids had a fantastic experience,” said Mike Cramer, retired secretary/treasurer of Local 68. “It was just a great day for everyone involved. Volunteers from the union locals handled small arms and archery training, while instructors from the shooting center taught the kids about trap shooting and shotgun shooting in general.”

Each participant received a goody bag containing three Plano game calls, a license holder and other items, he added, and were provided eye and hearing protection as well as ammunition free of charge.

Nearly 50 youngsters got a firsthand introduction to the shooting sports and conservation at the Houston-area Get Youth Outdoors Day.

“On top of the interactive shooting stations, the kids got to study a number of additional conservation-based activities, including an extensive wildlife-centered display brought in by our friends at the Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge,” he said. “It was an incredible learning experience for them.

“It’s all very important because, as sportsmen, all us volunteers understand that the number of young people who participate in the shooting sports, and outdoor recreation in general, is trending downward,” he explained. “And as union members, we know we have the organizational and work skills we can use to do something about it—such as holding an event like this that exposes our youth to the great outdoors so they become inclined to help preserve it for everyone.”

The Get Youth Outdoors Day was just one of many such events held across the country that are designed to encourage and inspire a passion among young men and women for outdoor recreation and conservation, according to USA Conservation Manager Robert Stroede.

“A large number of kids who attended the Houston-area event had never before been exposed to any kind of firearm safety training, or had held a firearm in their hands,” said Stroede, “and that’s a perfect example of why USA, along with our partners, sponsors and supporters, believe events like this one are so important. They can act as a stepping stone, not just for kids but their parents too, to a greater appreciation and love for the outdoors.”

Union Fire Fighters Team with USA, Ohio AFL-CIO to Host Chillicothe Youth Fishing Event

April 16, 2019 in Articles, Conservation News, Fishing, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

Members of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Local 300 held their annual Fish With A Fire Fighter Day April 13, hosting 187 young anglers at Yoctangee Park in Chillicothe, Ohio.

The free event, designed to introduce local youngsters ages 2 to 15 to conservation and the joys of fishing, has a rich history in Chillicothe, according to Local 300 President Jason Ferryman. “Our Fish With A Fire Fighter Day is a long-standing tradition that the kids and their families look forward to every year,” he said. “The kids get the chance to fish for rainbow trout in the park’s manmade lake and enjoy a picnic-style lunch with their families, while our fire fighters get the opportunity to interact with members of our community.”

This year, for the first time, Local 300 teamed up with the Ohio AFL-CIO and Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA), Ferryman added, “to help make the event bigger and better than ever before. We can’t thank them enough for their assistance in making our day a huge success.”

The USA helped organize the Chillicothe event as part of Work Boots on the Ground – the organization’s flagship conservation program. It was produced with support from USA national conservation partners Provost Umphrey Law Firm, Pure Fishing and the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation.

Union volunteers hosted 187 kids during Fish With A Fire Fighter Day April 13 at Yoctangee Park in Chillicothe, Ohio.

Twenty-two IAFF volunteers and three Ohio AFL-CIO volunteers donated well over 100 hours in planning, preparation and during the event itself, helping youngsters rig equipment, hone casting skills and play feisty fish.

“Organized labor has a strong tradition of lifting up our local communities, and we are pleased to participate in the Fish With A Fire Fighter Day in Chillicothe,” said Tim Burga, president of the Ohio AFL-CIO, based in Columbus. “IAFF Local 300 does an outstanding job of putting this event together and we’re happy to be part of it–especially when it involves fostering a love of the outdoors in the younger generation.”

During the registration/check-in process, the young anglers received a free rod-and-reel combo, courtesy of Pure Fishing. Then, with help from family members and fire fighter volunteers, they spent several hours catching hungry trout that had been stocked the previous day by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

“They had a fantastic time,” said AFL-CIO Field Director Jeanette Mauk, who was on hand to help register and organize the eager anglers. “For a lot of kids, it was their first experience fishing, and they were overjoyed that they got to take the rod and reel home with them.

“Afterward, close to 300 kids, family members and volunteers enjoyed a delicious picnic meal of hamburgers, hot dogs, grilled chicken, potato salad and fruit,” she added. “It was a wonderful and very busy day.”

Union Volunteers Introduce 200 Spring Hill Youth to Fishing

April 15, 2019 in Conservation News, Fishing, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

UAW Local 1853 President Tim Stannard was among the 32 UAW volunteers introducing kids to fishing at the Spring Hill Area Take Kids Fishing Day.

Despite early morning rains, 200 young anglers and their families lined the pond at the Tennessee Children’s Home Spring Hill Campus Saturday, April 13 for the Spring Hill Area Take Kids Fishing Day.

A joint effort by the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA), United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 1853 and UAW Region 8, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) and other supporters, the free event was aimed at introducing the next generation of anglers and conservationists to the joys of fishing.

The Spring Hill-area event was the latest in series of free, community-based youth outreach activities held as part of Work Boots on the Ground – the USA’s flagship conservation program. It was produced with support from USA national conservation partners Provost Umphrey Law Firm, Pure Fishing and the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation.

Many youngsters reeled in fish, which were plentiful and in a biting mood after the TWRA donated and stocked 400 pounds of catfish into the pond earlier in the week.

Each of the young anglers received a free fishing rod and reel courtesy of Pure Fishing, to ensure everyone had the chance to participate and hopefully continue fishing for years to come. Along with the rods and reels, prizes were given out at the end of the day for the largest fish–including three tackle boxes and a bait bucket.

UAW Local 1853 President Tim Stannard reported 32 volunteers—all from Local 1853–donated 150 hours toward planning and holding the event at no cost to the participants or their families. Volunteers provided instruction and assistance, including rigging the participants’ new fishing poles and offering sage advice on how to hook the big one.

Stannard said volunteers enjoyed sharing their love of fishing with those in attendance. “They had a blast getting to see how much fun the kids were having,” he said.

He also noted that holding such events helps non-union residents see the many ways unions and their members benefit the community. “These events help build bridges by showing people that union members are friends and neighbors who enjoy giving back to their communities,” he said.

“A lot of people don’t know much about unions or have heard bad stuff about them,” Stannard continued. “This shows that union members are normal, next-door neighbors who work together to provide living wages and benefits for our families—and we also care about getting kids out in nature, away from the video games.”

USA Conservation Coordinator Cody Campbell was elated at how many families tried fishing for the first time. “The event was phenomenal, especially given the cool, rainy weather,” said Campbell. “Everyone had a great time. A lot of kids who never held a fishing pole prior to Saturday got to experience the thrill of fishing. The parents loved it, too. There were just as many excited moms and dads as there were kids.”

Houston Youngsters Invited to Free “Get Youth Outdoors Day” April 28

April 8, 2019 in Conservation News, General, Hunting, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

 

 

 

Boys and girls ages 9 to 15 are invited to learn about the outdoors and experience the shooting sports firsthand Sunday, April 28 at the free, fun-filled Houston Area Get Youth Outdoors Day.

The nonprofit Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) is teaming up with the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), local labor unions and other supporters to host the event from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the American Shooting Center, located at 16500 Westheimer Parkway in Houston.

Attendees will learn about wildlife, conservation and other outdoor traditions through hands-on activities and demonstrations. The event is also part of NSSF’s successful First Shots program, which introduces first-time shooters to firearms respect, safety and the shooting sports.

Local union volunteers trained in firearms safety and instruction will provide hands-on introductions to trap shooting, riflery (.22 caliber) and archery. All supplies including eye and hearing protection, firearms and ammunition will be provided at no charge. Each youth will also receive a free goody bag containing a Plano game call, license holder and other items.

The event is free and open to the public, but participation is limited to the first 150 registrants, so please CLICK HERE to register now or contact Rob Stroede at: (615) 831-6770, or by email at roberts@unionsportsmen.org.

Youths must be accompanied by an adult chaperone, although adults are encouraged to bring multiple youngsters to the event. After the event, participants and chaperones are invited to enjoy a free picnic lunch!

The Houston event is part of a series of free, community-based youth outreach activities organized under Work Boots on the Ground—the USA’s flagship conservation program. It is sponsored by an NSSF grant with support from national conservation partners Pure Fishing, the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation and Provost Umphrey Law Firm.

USA, NSSF Hold Nashville Area Get Youth Outdoors Day

April 1, 2019 in Articles, General, Hunting, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

More than 30 youths learned about conservation and hunting while experiencing the thrill of the shooting sports firsthand Sunday, March 31 during the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) Nashville Area Get Youth Outdoors Day.

The nonprofit USA teamed up with the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), local labor unions and other supporters to host the event from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Nashville Gun Club, located on the banks of the Cumberland River in West Nashville.

Open to boys and girls ages 9 to 15, the event was part of NSSF’s First Shots program, which introduces first-time shooters to firearms respect, safety and the shooting sports. Union volunteers from Roofers International and Insulators Local 86 provided hands-on introductions to sporting clays and archery, along with wildlife conservation, dog training and other outdoor topics. 

Hands-on instruction helped first-time shooters experience the thrill of the shooting sports.

“Unions and union workers are honored to give back to our communities by helping introduce kids to conservation and outdoor activities they can enjoy for a lifetime,” said Billy Dycus, president of the Tennessee AFL-CIO Labor Council. “With fewer kids being raised in rural areas, this kind of outreach is more important than ever.”

All supplies, including eye and hearing protection, firearms and ammunition were supplied at no charge to attendees. Each youth also received a goody bag containing free gifts from Plano Synergy, NSSF, USA and other donors. Youth also enjoyed a picnic-style lunch with their mentors.

The Nashville-area event was part of a series of free, community-based youth outreach activities organized under Work Boots on the Ground—the USA’s flagship conservation program. It was sponsored by NSSF and Savage Arms with support from national conservation partners Provost Umphrey Law Firm, Pure Fishing and the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation.

“Hands-on, interactive youth events are critical to the future of fishing, hunting and recreational shooting,” said USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance. “The USA and its union, industry and conservation partners are proud to support a variety of mentorship and outreach programs across the nation that provide opportunities for union workers to share their passion for the outdoors with young people and their families.”

 

Spring Hill, Tennessee, Youngsters Invited to Free “Take Kids Fishing Day” April 13

March 19, 2019 in Conservation News, Fishing, General, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

Register youngsters now for the free Spring Hill Area Take Kids Fishing Day.

Boys and girls ages 2 to 15 are invited to learn about the outdoors and experience the joys of fishing firsthand Saturday, April 13 at the free, fun-filled Spring Hill, Tennessee, Area Take Kids Fishing Day.

The nonprofit Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) is teaming up with United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 1853 and UAW Region 8, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) and other supporters to host the family-friendly event from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Tennessee Children’s Home Spring Hill Campus, located at 3375 Kedron Road.

Youth ages 2 to 15 are invited to join the fun and learn about fishing and conservation.

The event is free and open to the public, but kids must be pre-registered to participate. The first 300 registrants will receive a free fishing rod and reel courtesy of Pure Fishing. To register, CLICK HERE or contact USA Conservation Manager Rob Stroede at: (615) 831-6770; email: roberts@unionsportsmen.org.

Volunteers from local labor unions will provide youngsters with instruction and assistance, and prizes will be awarded for the largest fish.

Youths must be accompanied by an adult chaperone, although adults are encouraged to bring multiple youngsters to the event. All attendees are invited to enjoy a free picnic-style lunch.

The Spring Hill area event is part of a series of free, community-based youth outreach activities organized under Work Boots on the Ground—the USA’s flagship conservation program. It is produced with support from USA national conservation partners Provost Umphrey Law Firm, Pure Fishing and the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation.

Nashville-Area Youngsters Invited to Free “Get Youth Outdoors Day” March 31

March 11, 2019 in Conservation News, Hunting, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

Boys and girls ages 9 to 15 are invited to learn about the outdoors and experience the shooting sports firsthand Sunday, March 31 at the free, fun-filled 1st Annual Nashville Area Get Youth Outdoors Day.

The nonprofit Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) is teaming up with the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), local labor unions and other supporters to host the event from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Nashville Gun Club, located along the banks of the Cumberland River in West Nashville.

Attendees will learn about wildlife, conservation and other outdoor traditions through hands-on activities and demonstrations. The event is also part of NSSF’s successful First Shots program, which introduces first-time shooters to firearms respect, safety and the shooting sports.

Local youngsters ages 9 to 15 are invited to learn about the shooting sports and conservation during the free Get Youth Outdoors Day event March 31 at the Nashville Gun Club.

Local union volunteers trained in firearms safety and instruction will provide hands-on introductions to trap shooting, riflery (.22 caliber) and archery. All supplies including eye and hearing protection, firearms and ammunition will be provided at no charge. Each youth will also receive a free goody bag containing a Plano game call, license holder and other items.

The event is free and open to the public, but participation is limited to the first 75 registrants, so please CLICK HERE to register now or contact Rob Stroede at: (615) 831-6770, or by email at roberts@unionsportsmen.org.

Youths must be accompanied by an adult chaperone, although adults are encouraged to bring multiple youngsters to the event. After the event, participants and chaperones are invited to stay for a free picnic lunch!

The Nashville-area event is part of a series of free, community-based youth outreach activities organized under Work Boots on the Ground—the USA’s flagship conservation program. It is sponsored by an NSSF grant with support from national conservation partners Provost Umphrey Law Firm, Pure Fishing and the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation.

USA, Union Volunteers Tackle Hurricane Harvey Damage to Goose Island State Park

February 15, 2019 in Articles, Conservation News, General, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

Visitors to Texas’ Goose Island State Park will once again enjoy fresh water close at hand while camping and picnicking along the Gulf Coast, thanks to the efforts of hardworking union volunteers and the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance.

Located on St. Charles and Aransas bays north of Corpus Christi, the popular park offers fishing, boating, camping and wildlife watching opportunities. It is also home to the iconic “Big Tree,” an ancient live oak estimated to be more than 1,000 years old.

Due to these attractions, Goose Island State Park attracts tens of thousands of visitors annually—drawing guests from local communities and across the continent.

Unfortunately, the park’s beachside shelters had been without water since Hurricane Harvey battered the coastline in 2017. To remedy the situation, a coalition of volunteers from local labor unions stepped up to make the necessary repairs to get the taps flowing again.

Thirty-nine volunteers donated a total of 265 hours of labor worth more than $12,300 to the project, which included replacing damaged water lines and fixtures at 44 beach shelters along the park’s scenic waterfront. The repairs were completed in two phases, the latest of which wrapped up February 9. Park officials provided the necessary materials while union members donated their time, skills and tools to make the project a reality.

Union volunteers donated 265 hours of labor to restore the water supply at 44 beachside shelters at Goose Island State Park.

Participating union members represented United Association Local 68, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 278, Communications Workers of America Local 6137, American Federation of Teachers Local 3456 and International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Local 22.

“The staff of Goose Island State Park was extremely grateful that a group of talented volunteers were willing to complete such a mission,” said TJ Hinojosa, interim park superintendent. “The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance members’ service to their state park system provided park staff the ability to focus on other projects and daily tasks.

“Before Hurricane Harvey made landfall, Goose Island had its most successful year with over 190,000 guests,” Hinojosa noted. “Partners like the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance help us return to our potential a little more every day.”

Local organizers and volunteers were grateful for a chance to make a difference. “We are thankful for everything the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance does to help union members give back to their communities through projects like this,” said CWA Local 6137 president Kristie Veit. “The Texas AFL-CIO has also been a big supporter of this project and similar efforts that benefit our neighbors and neighborhoods.”

“The Goose Island State Park project exemplifies how union volunteers are benefiting their communities and outdoors enthusiasts around the country through the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s Work Boots on the Ground program,” said USA Conservation Manager Robert Stroede. “These infrastructure repairs will benefit thousands of people who visit this scenic, historic and environmentally significant park every season.”

The project restored water supplies that had been disrupted since Hurricane Harvey hit in 2017.

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Volunteer Labor Donations Top Million Dollar Mark

February 12, 2019 in Articles, Conservation News, General, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

USA volunteers building educational kiosks in Michigan recently pushed the total value of labor donated through the organization’s Work Boots on the Ground program over the $1,000,000 mark.

Fueled by a flurry of project completions and strategic partnerships, the value of volunteer labor donated by Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) members to community-based conservation projects through the Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) program has topped the $1,000,000 mark.

The milestone was reached as a crew of union volunteers from the United Auto Workers (UAW) Ford Community Service Ramp Program put the final touches on five informational kiosks for the USA’s conservation partners at Pheasants Forever. The kiosks will be placed on game management areas around Michigan to educate the public on the benefits of habitat, conservation and hunting.

The project exemplifies the WBG program, which unites union workers to complete critical conservation, public access, education, youth outreach and adult mentorship projects in communities across the country.

The USA celebrated its 100th WBG project in late 2017 and to date has coordinated the completion of 156 projects in 30 states and the District of Columbia. USA volunteers have logged 29,937 hours on these efforts, which include 63 outreach campaigns, 85 infrastructure projects and eight support projects.

WBG kicked off in 2010 under the guidance of program manager Jim Klatt. The first project saw union volunteers craft supersize mesh-and-metal live traps for Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) researchers to use in buck mortality and fawn recruitment studies. As has since been the case in many WBG projects, the work would not have been possible without union volunteers. The DNR had secured funding to purchase building materials for the live traps but lacked the skilled labor and workspace to build them.

The USA’s Work Boots on the Ground program kicked off in 2010, when union volunteers created live traps like this prototype for Wisconsin DNR whitetail deer research.

“We are extremely proud of our volunteers for reaching this milestone,” said USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance. “They are without a doubt our greatest asset. Their willingness to freely donate time and talents to benefit their neighbors and protect our outdoor heritage continually propels us to new heights in mission delivery and impact.

“Our volunteers are also what make us so unique as a non-profit conservation organization,” he added. “They are the most well-trained and skilled volunteers in the world because of their unique apprenticeship and trades experience. Providing skilled and trained volunteers who can do things that other volunteer groups cannot is clearly our unique niche among the conservation community.”

The USA already has plenty in the works for 2019, including projects and events in communities coast to coast. In what promises to be the largest project to date, the group rallied a coalition of public, private and union partners to construct a wheelchair-accessible boardwalk and fishing pier at the Suncoast Youth Conservation Center (SYCC) in Apollo Beach, Florida.

Part of the Florida Youth Conservation Centers Network (FYCCN), the marine-focused conservation education center serves more than 11,000 youth and adults annually. Union volunteers are expected to donate in excess of 1,000 hours of skilled labor valued at more than $50,000 to complete the pier and boardwalk, while the USA also contributed $20,000 and Southern States Millwright Council donated $50,000. National union contractor Ben Hur Construction is providing an additional $100,000 of in-kind donation to the project.

A large-scale enhancement project is also planned for the William Powers State Recreation Area in southeast Chicago, which includes construction of an ADA-compliant fishing pier. Additional projects range from the construction of a weigh station-pavilion on the shores of Smith Lake near Jasper, Alabama, to the refurbishment of a public pier at the Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge just outside Liberty, Texas. Union volunteers are also gearing up to build a pedestrian walkway in Prineville, Oregon, that will open access to 70 acres of public property, and install a handicap accessible fishing pier in Harrison County, Mississippi.

The USA is also organizing a pair of Get Youth Outdoors Day events in concert with the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s (NSSF) First Shots program, which introduces first-time shooters to firearms respect, safety and the shooting sports. A number of youth fishing events are also on the docket. The USA’s 2019 Take Kids Fishing Day schedule kicked off in Minnesota in January, with additional events set for Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance, Partners Secure Funding for Suncoast Youth Conservation Center Project

January 28, 2019 in Conservation News, Fishing, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

Construction of a new boardwalk and fishing pier at the Suncoast Youth Conservation Center will provide visitors of all ages and physical abilities with better access to the center’s hands-on recreational and educational programs.

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) is proud to report that a multi-year, collaborative effort to give thousands of Florida youth and their families better firsthand access to the Gulf of Mexico’s inshore ecosystem has cleared its last financial hurdle.

The final funds needed to construct a wheelchair-accessible boardwalk and fishing pier at the Suncoast Youth Conservation Center (SYCC) in Apollo Beach have been secured, pushing total cash donations and in-kind commitments to the project to $600,000. 

A wide range of partners have made contributions, including the Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida ($240,000), Southern States Millwright Regional Council ($50,000), The Saunders Foundation ($28,000), USA ($20,000) and Frank E. Duckwall Foundation ($10,000).

In addition, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is providing construction materials and Ben Hur Construction is contributing $100,000 in in-kind construction costs. The project is being organized as part of Work Boots on the Ground – the USA’s flagship conservation program. Through this program, union volunteers are expected to donate in excess of 1,000 hours of skilled labor valued at more than $50,000 to complete the pier and boardwalk, pushing the total project value even higher.

Part of the FWC’s Florida Youth Conservation Centers Network (FYCCN), the SYCC is a marine-focused conservation education center on the eastern shore of Tampa Bay. The campus, which includes a 6,000-square-foot education facility with an outdoor classroom, hiking and kayak trails, a wildlife observation tower, and a Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Center, was developed in partnership with TECO Energy and the Florida Aquarium. More than 11,000 youth and adults participate in SYCC programs annually. 

The new boardwalk and fishing pier will flank a 2.5-acre saltwater pond and marsh adjacent to the educational complex. By design, the new structure will allow visitors to study coastal marine habitats and learn to fish with minimal impact to the environment.

More than 11,000 youth and adults participate in SYCC programs annually and will benefit from the new pier.

“The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance, their partners and union volunteers have demonstrated a deep commitment to inspiring people to care about conservation and the outdoors through their support of the Florida Youth Conservation Centers Network,” said FYCCN Director Rae Waddell. “Their generosity and expertise is allowing the FWC to provide youth and families greater access to the pond for fishing, wildlife viewing and learning about conservation.”

“Getting children out into nature has become a national priority, and the boardwalk and fishing pier add significantly to the educational and recreational programs at the Suncoast Youth Conservation Center,” said Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida (FWFF) President and CEO Andrew Walker.

USA national partner Pure Fishing, the country’s largest manufacturer of fishing gear, also participated in the process, donating time and product to the project’s development. “We are thrilled that ground will be broken soon on the boardwalk and pier,” said Pure Fishing Stewardship and Government Relations Director Connie Parker, who also serves on the FWFF board of directors. “This addition to Suncoast’s campus will ensure that outdoor activities and learning are accessible to all children.”

“This is not your conventional conservation project with one or two partners,” noted USA Director of Conservation and Community Outreach Forrest Parker. “This is a union-led, private-public partnership that involves multiple non-profits, labor unions, union volunteers, a state agency, state wildlife foundation and industry partners. We are thankful for everyone’s persistence and support through two years of collaboration, strategic planning and old-fashioned hard work to make it all come together.”

Wayne Jennings, Southern States Millwright Regional Council executive secretary treasurer, said the effort was all about serving the community. “Unions were created for the greater good—not just in the workplace but also the surrounding community,” he explained. “The SSMRC embraces this ideal. By partnering with the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance and everyone involved with this project, we hope to demonstrate that through unity, anything can become reality. When we all pull in the same direction, we can accomplish extraordinary things. We are investing in the community and hope everyone enjoys the opportunities that this project provides.”

Construction is slated to begin in February, with completion in the summer of 2019.

Union Volunteers Introduce Twin Cities Youth to Ice Fishing

January 22, 2019 in Articles, Conservation News, Fishing, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

Temperatures hovering around zero didn’t stop more than 100 budding young anglers and their families from participating in the Minneapolis Area Take Kids Ice Fishing Day at scenic Coon Lake on Saturday, January 19.

A joint effort by the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA), International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC) Local 9 and a coalition of other supporters, the free event was aimed at introducing the next generation of anglers and conservationists to the joys of ice fishing.

Much to their delight, the youngsters received a free ice fishing rod and reel courtesy of Pure Fishing and game calls from Plano Synergy—all while making great memories with their families and union mentors.

“The kids had fun and the event went really well,” said local project leader Dave Morin, a member of IUEC Local 9.

More than 100 budding anglers and their families enjoyed a great time on ice at Minnesota’s Coon Lake during the Take Kids Ice Fishing Day event.

Morin reported that 25 volunteers from the local community and various unions including IUEC Local 9, area building trades and International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) Local 209 donated 152 hours toward planning and holding the event at no cost to the participants or their families. Volunteers provided instruction and assistance, including drilling holes, rigging the participants’ new fishing poles, and offering sage advice on how to hook the big one.

After fishing, the young hardwater warriors and their families were treated to a picnic-style lunch, plus raffle prizes from hats to heaters and a brand-new Vexilar FL-8 fish locator.

“Seeing how excited the kids are getting out on the ice and the looks on their faces when they catch fish make it all worthwhile,” said Morin, a lifelong outdoorsman who was chosen to appear on a 2018 episode of the USA’s Brotherhood Outdoors television series based on his union work ethic and commitment to sharing the outdoor experience with others.

“I can’t thank the volunteers, local sponsors, union supporters and the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance enough,” he added. “Without all of their help, this event wouldn’t have happened.”

Morin also noted that holding such events helps build relationships between unions and the general public, by reminding community members that union workers are friends and neighbors who enjoy giving back to our hometowns.

The event was led by IUEC Local 9 with support from other unions in the Minneapolis Building and Construction Trades Council, along with Pure Fishing, Plano Synergy, the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, Thorne Bros. Custom Rod and Tackle, Clam Outdoors and Vados Bait and Tackle.

“Our first-ever youth ice fishing event was a big success,” said USA Conservation Manager Robert Stroede. “Thanks to a diehard crew of volunteers from various local unions and the local community, participants were treated to good food, lots of prizes, free fishing gear and heated fishing shelters with holes pre-drilled and ready for them to wet their lines. The fish were fickle, but some participants managed to land a few yellow perch and a couple northern pike were caught on tip-ups. The day was filled with smiles and new friendships, and provided plenty of incentives for holding similar winter events in the future.”

Besides fishing, participants were treated to a picnic lunch, plenty of door prizes and free fishing gear.

The Minneapolis-area event was the latest in series of free, community-based Take Kids Fishing Day activities held as part of Work Boots on the Ground – the USA’s flagship conservation program. In 2018, open-water fishing events were held in Marietta, Ohio, Barboursville, West Virginia, and Eau Claire, Janesville, La Crosse and Madison, Wisconsin, and collectively drew more than 800 participants. Additional events are planned for 2019.

“With more than 40 million anglers generating $35 billion in retail sales and $600 million for fisheries conservation and public water access through special excise taxes each year, it’s critical to continue recruiting new anglers,” Stroede added. “Plus, research has shown that outdoor-related activities such as fishing create participatory pathways for children to experience nature and help kindle a lifelong interest in environmental conservation.”

To view more event images on the USA’s Facebook page, CLICK HERE.

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Names UAW, IUPAT and IUE-CWA Conservation Stewards of the Year

January 17, 2019 in Articles, Conservation News, General, Press Release

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) is proud to announce the recipients of the organization’s prestigious 2018 Conservation Steward of the Year Awards for the United Auto Workers (UAW), International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) and Industrial Division of the Communications Workers of America (IUE-CWA).

UAW member Steve Cochran, IUPAT member Robert Gilmore and IUE-CWA member Jeanette Mauk were selected to receive the award on behalf of their unions for exemplary commitment to conservation and community service.

The award recognizes volunteers from each of the USA’s charter unions who have made exceptional contributions to the USA’s efforts to organize union volunteers to donate their time and unique trade skills in the preservation of North America’s outdoor heritage.

Steve Cochran

Cochran, of Ooltewah, Tennessee, is president of UAW Local 42 and has spearheaded the local’s USA Conservation Dinner fundraiser the past two years. Cochran also led a major overhaul of the Wolftever Creek Boat Ramp on Lake Chickamauga just outside of Chattanooga, in which union volunteers donated labor and $10,000 raised at the dinner to replace a dilapidated dock with a brand-new, 104-foot-long, handicap-accessible floating pier.

“It’s an honor to receive this award and represent the entire UAW as we collectively give back to conservation and our communities,” said Cochran. “We are driven to take on projects that benefit everyone and strengthen the connection between union workers and their neighbors.”

Gilmore, of Dawson, Iowa, is a member of IUPAT Local 246 and serves as business manager and secretary-treasurer of District Council 81. He has led USA fundraising dinners in Des Moines since 2015, raising more than $500,000 in the process and organized conservation projects in the area including the large-scale restoration of a handicap-accessible fishing pier and fishing house at Lake Ahquabi State Park, and construction of a large public shelter at Fort Des Moines State Park. Gilmore also launched an annual shooting event for local union members which benefits USA conservation efforts.

Robert Gilmore

Along with this year’s conservation dinner and shoot, he is planning a public shelter/log cabin project at Yellow Banks County Park and a Get Youth Outdoors event for 2019.

“I am extremely honored to be considered for this award,” said Gilmore. “The success of our local efforts is due to a great group of building trades members working together, and reflects the commitment union members have to giving back to their community. The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance makes it easy for us to join forces for the greater cause of conservation, youth outreach and promoting outdoor recreation.”

Mauk, of Dayton, Ohio, serves as the state’s AFL-CIO Field Director. She is a vested member of the IUE-CWA, which is a USA charter union, and is also a member of the Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 98. Mauk has shepherded and grown the USA’s Ohio State Conservation Dinner in Columbus for seven years. She has also organized multiple projects including the installation of a new public fishing pier at Dayton’s Lakeside Lake and Ohio’s first Take Kid’s Fishing Day in Marietta. She is currently planning a youth fishing event to be held in Dayton this May.

“This is awesome,” Mauk said of receiving the award. “It means a lot. But the real rewards of being involved in the labor movement and working with the USA include giving back to our communities, fostering solidarity among union members and building bridges between unions and the public. When you see what can be accomplished when everyone pulls together, it just makes you want to do more.”

Jeanette Mauk

“Steve, Robert and Jeanette are dedicated volunteers whose leadership and fundraising efforts help us execute impactful conservation projects and safeguard the future of our outdoor traditions in their local communities and across the country,” said USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance.

The Conservation Steward of the Year selection process begins with the nomination of potential recipients by peers or union leadership. From this pool of nominees, USA staff select individuals who have had the greatest impact on the USA’s mission, represented their unions in the most exemplary fashion and made the biggest difference in their local community.

Previous USA Conservation Steward of the Year Award recipients include: Brent Beasley and Mark Conroy, United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers; Dave Branson and Michael Cramer, United Association; Josh Craig, International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers; George Hogan, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; and Anthony Nicholson, International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators.

USA, Union Volunteers Complete John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge Improvements

January 3, 2019 in Articles, Conservation News, General, Press Release

The public will enjoy better access to the great outdoors at the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge thanks to the completion of a series of refuge-enhancement projects supported by a coalition of partners including the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) and local union workers.

Through the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground program (WBG), union volunteers with Insulators Local 14, Painters District Council 21 and Operating Engineers Local 542 donated 691 hours of skilled labor valued at more than $36,000 on a kayak launch dock, observation tower improvements and road repairs. Machinery usage valued at $20,000 pushed the total project value over $56,000.

Located in Philadelphia, John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge is America’s first urban refuge. Given its accessibility and visibility to over 1.7 million people living within 10 miles of the refuge and more than 35 million Americans living within a two-hour drive, the refuge serves as a prominent ambassador of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Due to a shortage of staff and funding, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s list of deferred maintenance projects stands at more than $1.3 billion, including necessary repairs to roads, trails, dams, docks and levees. Adequately supporting maintenance requirements to keep the Service’s infrastructure in good condition is necessary to ensure safe and reliable outdoor recreational access for the American public on their public lands.

Organizations like the USA, aided by union volunteers who donate their time, talents and funding raised at local conservation shoots and dinners, are working to reduce this backlog, restore America’s refuge system and improve public access to these national treasures.

“It is truly heartwarming to see how volunteers from the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance have mobilized to help improve the visitor experience for everyone at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge. I greatly appreciate their efforts, which are symbolic of how much the refuge is part of the local community,” said Margaret Everson, Acting Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “This exemplifies the kinds of public-private partnerships that are critical for conservation in the 21st century. I look forward to seeing more volunteers back at the refuge in the spring.”

Union volunteers donated more than $56,000 in time and machinery use to complete a series of improvement projects at the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge.

On-site refuge staff were equally appreciative. “The team from the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance was a great group of professional and joyful guys that obviously love their work,” said John Heinz refuge manager Lamar Gore. “I’d love to work with them in the future, as they allowed us to improve visitor access and experience to one of the most activated public lands in the refuge system.”

USA Director of Conservation and Community Outreach Forrest Parker said the John Heinz project, like similar efforts the USA has organized across the continent, was a labor of love.

“We are honored to support the national wildlife refuge system’s efforts to protect a network of lands and waters for conservation for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans,” said Parker. “And we are very proud of the many union volunteers who donate their time and skills to complete projects on refuges and elsewhere in their local communities that impact the future of conservation and our shared outdoor heritage.” 

Parker noted that earlier last fall, the USA and Department of the Interior (DOI) gathered at John Heinz NWR to celebrate Urban National Wildlife Refuge Day and commemorate the kick-off of the refuge-enhancement projects. The event recognized the importance of such efforts, along with the important role urban national wildlife refuges play in protecting wildlife habitat and providing outdoor recreational opportunities for all Americans.

A coalition of partners including fishing industry powerhouse Pure Fishing, the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, the National Wild Turkey Federation and Plano Synergy supported the event.

 

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Applauds Farm Bill Conservation Funding

December 18, 2018 in Articles, Conservation News, Fishing, Hunting, Press Release

Flush with funding, habitat protection measures and public access incentives, the 2018 Farm Bill is being praised as a boon to wildlife conservation and outdoor recreation including hunting and fishing.

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) hails passage of the 2018 Farm Bill as a major victory for conservation, wildlife and public access.

The $867 billion legislation, which passed the House and Senate last week with strong bipartisan support and veto-proof majorities, provides more than $5 billion for conservation efforts on private land and offers a number of provisions that bode well for the future of the nation’s fish and wildlife.

The good news includes a 3-million-acre increase for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), bringing the total to 27 million acres. The voluntary program offers landowners incentives to remove highly erodible and environmentally sensitive lands from production, benefiting upland wildlife habitat and water quality improvement.

Added CRP gains include language directing the secretary of Agriculture to conduct routinely scheduled signups with targeted state-to-state allocations—a critical step toward adding new acres into the program each year—while enrolling 30 percent of all CRP acreage for continuous protection. Plus, a new program called CLEAR 30 creates a pilot program for a 30-year contract option on the most highly sensitive lands such as buffers, wetlands and riparian areas.

Other conservation highlights include added funding for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program and Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), more Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) funds for wildlife, stronger “Sodsaver” grasslands protection and the retention of “Swampbuster” safeguards.

The Farm Bill also includes an expansion of the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program (VPA-HIP), which supports access to nearly 1 million acres of private land for hunting, fishing and other outdoor pursuits. 

USA conservation allies including Pheasants Forever and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership praised the new legislation, calling it a win for sportsmen, landowners, wildlife, water quality, and the nation’s economy. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue also commended Congress for bringing the Farm Bill “across the finish line” and has encouraged President Trump to sign it into law.

USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance was likewise supportive of the legislation and optimistic about its implications. “The new Farm Bill’s funding and provisions are critical to preserving and enhancing our shared natural resources and treasured outdoor heritage,” he said. “They also offer landowners, agencies, non-profits and other partners expanded opportunities to join forces with the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) program, which connects union volunteers with local, hands-on conservation projects that would otherwise go undone.”

To date, the USA has organized and executed more than 150 conservation, public access, outreach, education and mentoring projects across the nation through WBG, including more than 50 projects in 2018.

Phipps Joins Union Sportsmen’s Alliance as Strategic Accounts Manager

November 21, 2018 in Articles, Press Release

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) has expanded its union relations department with the addition of U.S. Army combat veteran, union pipefitter and lifelong outdoorsman Sam Phipps as the organization’s new strategic accounts manager.

The USA is stepping up its union relations efforts to keep pace with a record-setting increase in projects and events aimed at protecting North America’s outdoor heritage by uniting union members for conservation, outreach and community service.

Under the guidance of Union Relations Director Walt Ingram, Phipps will manage the USA’s strategic endemic partnerships and help launch the organization’s new Partner Local Program—which provides local unions with greater opportunities to benefit their communities. He will also serve as the USA’s liaison with the Union Veteran’s Council and grassroots contact with United Association (UA) members.

A lifelong resident of Elsberry, Missouri, Phipps grew up hunting and fishing on the Mississippi River. He served his country as a U.S. Army Infantryman in Afghanistan 2011 and 2012. Upon returning home, he entered the UA’s Veterans in Piping (VIP) program, and is currently a 5th-year apprentice with UA Local 562 out of St. Louis, Missouri.

Phipps remains a diehard sportsman, and has dedicated himself to helping youth and U.S. Armed Forces veterans enjoy the outdoors by volunteering with the Union Veterans Council, The Fallen Outdoors, the USA and various mentorship efforts.

“Sam has exemplified leadership and service to his country, to the Union Veteran’s Council, as a fundraiser and organizer for The Fallen Outdoors, as a mentor to both youth and veterans, and he continues to demonstrate that commitment daily as he works as a UA fitter and a devoted husband and father,” said USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance. “Sam has a proven track record of developing strong partnerships both inside and outside of the union community, and he’s demonstrated that he can grow those partnerships into something meaningful for the outdoor passions that he loves.”

Phipps is eager to tackle his new responsibilities. “I am extremely grateful to begin working for an organization whose mission means so much to me,” said Phipps. “To work in the name of conservation, community, youth, veterans and my union brothers and sisters is an opportunity of a lifetime.”

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Welcomes Provost Umphrey as Platinum Conservation Sponsor

November 20, 2018 in Articles, Conservation News, General, Press Release

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) is proud to welcome the Provost Umphrey Law Firm—a national leader in the fight for justice and workers’ rights for nearly 50 years—as a Platinum Level Conservation Sponsor. 

Texas-based Provost Umphrey has pledged $1 million over the next five years to support Work Boots on the Ground (WBG), the USA’s flagship conservation program, and conservation outreach programs benefiting the preservation of North America’s outdoor heritage.

“Members of the USA are hard workers, the type of workers that we represent every day,” says Joe Fisher, managing partner at Provost Umphrey. “As fellow outdoorsmen, we recognize the importance of supporting WBG to ensure these hard workers are able to continue their conservational and educational efforts.”

“We feel honored and blessed to have Provost Umphrey as our partner as we expand our conservation and outreach programs nationwide,” said USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance. “They are hunters, anglers, shooters and conservationists who believe in our mission and strongly support our outdoor heritage. They live the lifestyle we support through our conservation efforts and they believe deeply in our mission.”

Provost Umphrey’s support will help the USA substantially increase its mission delivery. The USA is dedicated to uniting union workers to complete critical conservation, public access, education, youth outreach and adult mentorship projects in communities across the country. The organization celebrated its 100th WBG project last fall and has already coordinated the completion of more than 50 projects in 2018.

“Like the relationships with our charter unions and other allies, financial support like the Provost Umphrey sponsorship helps the USA maintain its record-setting growth as we harness the passion, power and skills of union volunteers to impact the future of conservation and our shared outdoor heritage,” Vance added.

The Provost Umphrey sponsorship follows USA partnerships with the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Pure Fishing, Pheasants Forever and the National Wild Turkey Federation. The USA also recently partnered with industry leading product sales group Outtech and the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation, which is dedicated to protecting and restoring the nation’s aquatic resources by increasing participation in fishing and boating.

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Celebrates Grand Opening of New Spring Hill Headquarters

November 16, 2018 in Articles, Conservation News, Press Release

Labor, community and conservation leaders gathered Nov. 16 to help the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) celebrate the grand opening of its new state-of-the-art, union-built world headquarters in Spring Hill, Tennessee. 

The festivities included an official ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house reception attended by representatives from international labor unions, the outdoor industry and the local community.

Roofers International President Kinsey Robinson (holding scissors) led the official ribbon cutting.

“We can all be proud of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s new permanent home in Spring Hill,” said Roofers International President Kinsey Robinson, a current and founding member of the USA board of directors. “This grand opening celebration marks the latest of many milestones and accomplishments too numerous to address today.”

“Watching the USA grow from a small group of dedicated union sportsmen to more than 260,000 members in 11 years is a source of great satisfaction for me, and demonstrates the importance of this organization in the lives of union members—many of whom share a love of fishing, hunting and the outdoors,” Robinson continued. “We are grateful to the USA for transforming the collective power of unions into a potent force for the protection of our natural resources and outdoor traditions for future generations to enjoy.”

USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance said the new headquarters will help the organization continue expanding its mission impact. “This new permanent home is the perfect base of operations from which to increase the number and scope of our projects nationwide, as we harness the passion, power and skills of union volunteers to impact the future of conservation and our shared outdoor heritage,” he said.

USA Strategic Accounts Manager Sam Phipps, a U.S. Army combat veteran, led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Located at 4800 Northfield Lane adjacent to the GM Spring Hill Manufacturing site, the new USA headquarters offers 6,100 square feet of office space and a 4,600-square-foot warehouse.

The facility is housed in the former Saturn Bank building, which the USA purchased in April of 2018—kicking off an intensive, six-month renovation campaign. Throughout the project, the organization relied heavily on skilled union labor to transform the facility into a private campus designed to foster the USA’s efforts to unite union members in community-based conservation, public access and outreach projects.

“We are also excited to be neighbors to United Auto Workers Local 1853,” Vance added. “They have been very supportive of the USA and we look forward to working with them on a variety of activities and partnerships going forward.”

Local businesses and unions involved in the project include: Anderson Piping – UA Local  572, Besco – IBEW Local 429, Bricklayers Local 8 Southeast, Going Signs – SMART Local 137, International Masonry Training and Education Foundation Local 17101, Johnson Contractors – UBC Local 1209 & Local 223, Music City Glass – DC91 Local 456, Nashville Sheet Metal – SMART Local 177, Roofing Services & Solutions – SMART Local 177, Skyline Painters – IUAP Local 456 & Local 80, Tecta America Commercial Roofing – Roofers Local 2, Terrazzo & Concrete Equipment – BAC Local 21 and War Paint Fab – IAMAW Grand Lodge.

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Celebrates 200th Fundraising Shoot

November 9, 2018 in Articles, General, Press Release

USA shooting events including the Annual IBEW Southern California Sporting Clays Shoot have collectively engaged more than 17,000 participants and raised more than $9 million to protect North America’s outdoor heritage.

After providing union members and other shooting sports enthusiasts with camaraderie and exciting competition for nearly a decade, the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) Shooting Tour celebrated its 200th fundraising shoot November 3, 2018 with the 9th Annual IBEW Southern California Sporting Clays Shoot in Corona, California.

The roar of more than 100 shotguns marked the occasion, joined by the cheers, laughter and applause of attendees. Title sponsored by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and National Electrical Contractors Association, the Corona shoot drew 125 participants, support from over 30 local unions, union councils and vendors, and raised more than $65,000.

The event was a perfect tribute to the many successful shoots before it. Launched in 2009, the USA shooting program has to date engaged more than 17,000 participants and raised more than $9 million to protect North America’s outdoor heritage by uniting union members to volunteer in community-based conservation, public access and outreach projects.

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Participants test their shooting skills while enjoying camaraderie and the thrill of competition.

USA shooting event attendees enjoy friendly competition and union fellowship while raising funds to support USA-organized efforts including the renovation of public parks, fishing piers and other facilities, wildlife habitat restoration, youth activities and mentorship campaigns.

“Our 200th shoot is a huge milestone for the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance, and there are many engaged members, locals, councils, partners and volunteers that we need to thank for helping to achieve it,” said USA Director of Special Events Heather Tazelaar. “Our program has grown from three shooting events in 2009 to achieving our 200th shoot only nine short years later.”

Tazelaar noted the first shots of the USA Shooting Tour were fired under leaden skies at Prince George’s County Trap and Skeet Center in Glenn Dale, Maryland. Undaunted by looming thunderstorms, 152 union members and other shooting enthusiasts gathered on June 18, 2009 for the inaugural AFL-CIO Capital Area Sporting Clays Shoot. On October 23rd of that same year, the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers hosted its first USA shooting event, the Boilermakers Kansas City Sporting Clays Shoot. Both events flourished over the years and celebrated 10th annual shoots in 2018. In fact, the 2018 Boilermakers shoot set an all-time USA event record with a gross revenue of more than $201,000.

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The 2018 10th Annual Boilermakers Kansas City Sporting Clays Shoot broke the $200,000 mark to set an all-time USA event fundraising record.

“Along with raising critical funds for conservation and providing participants with a great experience, one of our proudest accomplishments is hosting military shooters at no charge,” Tazelaar added. “We have been blessed over the years to host hundreds of active duty military servicemen and women, and partner with groups like the Wounded Warrior Foundation, Freedom Alliance, Fishing for Freedom and the Union Veterans Council. This year, we rolled out a new process of pinning all veterans at shoots with a USA logo veteran’s lapel pin to honor our guests who have proudly served in the U.S. Armed Forces.”

Tazelaar, who has worked with the tour since its creation, also noted the events’ strong focus on the next generation of shooters and conservationists. “Our leadership is committed to introducing youths to the outdoors and the shooting sports, so if you attend a USA shooting event, you’ll likely see youngsters on the shooting course,” she said. “Each event offers discounted youth pricing and awards a high overall youth trophy.”

Tazelaar also predicts the USA shooting program has a bright future. “The tour has united thousands of union brothers and sisters in the outdoors since 2009 and raised millions of dollars to help preserve our shared outdoor heritage,” she said. “Our 200th shoot is a wonderful milestone, but I believe it is only the first chapter in a long and successful story of union brotherhood and conservation. We are already planning to expand the tour to additional locations in 2019 and beyond.”

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Spirits were high among participants at the USA’s 200th shoot in Corona, California.

USA Sponsors Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge First Shot Mentored Deer Hunt

November 2, 2018 in Articles, Hunting, Press Release

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

Mentee Nasr Majid (left) pictured with his first harvest, thanks to the dedicated mentoring of Insulators Local 24 member Brian Cavey (right).

Twenty-three aspiring hunters gathered to learn how to pursue big game and provide food for themselves and their families at the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge Oct. 26-27 during the refuge’s inaugural First Shots deer hunt. 

The hunt was sponsored by the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA), Maryland Department of Natural Resources and National Wild Turkey Federation. More than 60 applications were received for the 23 available opportunities to be mentored by an experienced hunter and learn hunting basics including scouting, stand placement, biology and field care. The individuals selected were all new adult hunters who did not have a support network to help them develop a new lifelong passion.

Applicants were also eager to harvest their first deer, and at press time the apprentice hunters had harvested a total of 17 deer, with additional hunting opportunities set for later in the week.

Mentee Nasr Majid (left) was introduced to the joys of hunting and taught lifelong skills by Insulators Local 24 member Brian Cavey (right).

In September of 2017, the USA partnered with the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge to conduct a sika and white-tailed deer population survey using infrared imaging technology. The long-term goal was to provide necessary population data to the refuge—allowing for more opportunities for sustainable deer hunting.

USA put out a call to local members asking them to consider volunteering as a mentor. International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Local 24 Apprentice Coordinator Brian Cavey wasted no time applying to be a mentor.

“I was honored and privileged to take part in Maryland’s Mentored Deer Hunting Program,” said Cavey. “What a way to introduce new hunters to the wonderful world of the outdoors and hunting.”

Cavey, of Pasadena, Maryland, is a third generation insulator—having followed in the footsteps of his retired father and grandfather. His father was also responsible for introducing him to hunting and the shooting sports—which became a lifelong bond they shared.

Cavey’s mentee, Nasr Majid, of Ellicott City, Maryland, explained that no one in his immediate family hunted—therefore he had no one to learn from but was still determined to pursue the sport. When he saw the ad for the mentored deer hunt on the Maryland DNR’s website, he was hopeful for a learning opportunity and applied.

“My driving intent in wanting to hunt is passing along a lifelong outdoor skill to my three young kids, and to be able to enjoy the most local, organic food I harvested myself,” said Majid. “With all these natural resources around us, I’ve realized that hunting and conservation go together and being involved not only benefits the individual, but provides resources for local conservation as well.”

Cavey and Majid were all smiles after their deer hunt—having successfully harvested a hind (female sika) on the last day of the hunt.

“Lo and behold we were successful in the last hour of the last day of the hunt,” said Cavey. “If you ever get the chance to take part in a new hunter mentoring program, do it! You won’t be disappointed.”

Chesapeake Marshlands National Wildlife Refuge Complex Project Leader Marcia Pradines highlighted the importance of partnering on these mentoring programs.

“Helping new hunters gain confidence and experience through the First Shot mentored program not only helps grow the hunting community but also supports conservation,” said Pradines. “We at Blackwater NWR appreciate the partnership with the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance. The Millennium tree stands USA donated allowed our 23 mentors to safely and effectively learn to hunt.”

The USA donated $3,700 worth of Millennium Treestands for the mentored hunt—one for every hunter. Other top brands and USA partners including Carhartt, Buck Knives, Plano Synergy, Outtech and Burris also donated a variety of products for mentors and mentees to enjoy.

More photos from this event can be viewed by CLICKING HERE.

USA, Partners Host Veterans’ Fishing Event to Celebrate New Griffin Reservoir Fishing Pier

October 31, 2018 in Conservation News, Fishing, Press Release

Griffin Reservoir

Project partners gathered for an official ribbon-cutting ceremony dedicating the new community fishing pier.

U.S. Armed Forces veterans were honored with a fishing event Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018 at Griffin Reservoir near Scranton, Pennsylvania, to celebrate the dedication of a new public fishing pier that gives community members of all ages and physical abilities improved access to the popular impoundment.

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA), Pennsylvania American Water, American Water Charitable Foundation (AWCF) and a consortium of local labor unions hosted the event. Union volunteers assisted the veterans, each of whom received a free rod, reel and tackle courtesy of Pure Fishing, plus additional items courtesy of Carhartt. Prior to the dedication ceremony, a catered lunch was provided to all veterans and other participants.

Griffin Reservoir

Union volunteers helped local veterans enjoy the new public pier.

The dedication recognized USA volunteers from Pennsylvania American Water, Utility Workers Local 537, Electrical Workers Local 81 and Carpenters Local 445 who donated more than 400 hours—a labor value of nearly $15,000—to clear the site and construct the 18 ft. x 25 ft. handicap-accessible pier.

The project was one of three funded by a $60,000 grant from the AWCF to the USA and organized through the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) conservation program.

AWCF and Pennsylvania American Water provided additional support to complete the driveway and parking lot, further improving access to Griffin Reservoir. The project also received funds allocated from the USA’s United Mine Workers of America Conservation Dinner in Fairmont, West Virginia.

Located in Lackawanna County, the 110-acre Pennsylvania American Water reservoir is flush with a variety of gamefish, including above-average populations of largemouth bass, bluegills and black crappies. The reservoir was opened to public shore-fishing 2011, but access was limited until the new pier was completed.

“This project is the culmination of a unique partnership that benefits our community,” said Pennsylvania American Water President Jeffrey McIntyre. “Working with both our Charitable Foundation and USA, we brought a team of volunteers together to create this beautiful spot that we are now able to share with every member of our community. Pennsylvania American Water is proud to continue its commitment to our communities and our neighbors.”

Griffin Reservoir

U.S. Navy veteran Clifford Davies told media members he is looking forward to returning to the pier on future fishing expeditions.

“The American Water Charitable Foundation was proud to support the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance with funding for this outstanding project, which will enable greater interaction with and appreciation for our water resources among the local community served by Pennsylvania American Water,” added Aldie Warnock, Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the American Water Charitable Foundation.

Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Richard Bloomingdale and Secretary-Treasurer Frank Snyder were also on hand. “We’re just so proud to be part of a movement that helps our skilled union workers give back their time, energy and talents to make everyone’s lives better by being able to come out and enjoy this beautiful reservoir,” said Bloomingdale.

“We are honored to work with Pennsylvania American Water, American Water Charitable Foundation and our many hardworking union volunteers, who joined forces through the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s Work Boots on the Ground program to complete the new fishing pier,” added USA Director of Conservation and Community Outreach Forrest Parker. “This project will benefit the local community for many years to come.”

While the veterans enjoyed their lakeside meal and fall fishing trip, they were also eager to return to the new pier on future fishing adventures. “This is great,” said Clifford Davies, a retired Navy veteran with 20 years of service. “I look forward to coming back here again next summer.”

Milwaukee Sheet Metal Workers Tackle Saltwater Fishing Adventure On USA Brotherhood Outdoors TV Series

October 30, 2018 in Brotherhood Outdoors TV, Fishing, General, Press Release


Brothers Andrew and Ben Norberg of Milwaukee enjoy a Mississippi Delta saltwater fishing adventure when they appear in an episode of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s (USA) Brotherhood Outdoors television series airing the week of Oct. 29 on Sportsman Channel.

The Norbergs, members of Sheet Metal Workers Local 18—part of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART)—were chosen to appear on the show based on their passion for their profession, love of the great outdoors and pride in being part of the union brotherhood.

“Union membership means a lot to me,” Ben explains. “In my opinion, it’s the only way to work in the building trades because of our safety standards, training, quality of craftsmanship and comradery. Plus, I’m proud of being a union member because I’m third generation in the same local.”

Ben Norberg with a dandy bayou beauty.

“I am a third generation sheet metal worker as well, so the union way is in my blood,” Andrew adds. “Union membership has provided me with an awesome brotherhood and allows me to provide for my family. It means everything to us.”

Both brothers are also quick to donate their time and talents to benefit their local community and conservation. Andrew is a longtime supporter of Union Sportsmen’s Alliance fundraising events that benefit conservation projects and youth outreach, and is also involved in helping his union brothers and sisters overcome substance abuse and alcoholism. Benjamin has a history in wildlife habitat projects and is a member of Local 18’s volunteer organizing committee.

Together, the brothers have enjoyed many outdoor adventures over the years, and that tradition continued when the siblings sampled some of the South’s finest inshore fishing out of Venice Fishing Lodge near Buras, Louisiana. Catch all the exciting action when the Norbergs’ episode airs Tuesday, Oct. 30 at 4 p.m. Eastern, or when it re-airs Wednesday at 11:30 a.m., Saturday at 1:30 a.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m. Eastern.

Award-winning Brotherhood Outdoors is currently in its 10th season of whisking hardworking union members away on action-packed hunting and fishing adventures.

Produced by creative powerhouse Rusted Rooster Media, the series puts the spotlight on union members who are as passionate about the outdoors as they are about keeping the country running. Each episode takes viewers to the homes, communities and jobsites of these tireless American workers for an inspirational glimpse at their backstories before heading onto the water or into the field.

Andrew Norberg with a bull red of his own; one of many great fish taken on the brothers’ trip.

The 2018 Brotherhood Outdoors season features union members in pursuit of New Mexico elk, Wyoming pronghorns, Mexican permit and bonefish, Saskatchewan waterfowl and black bears, Louisiana redfish and trophy whitetails in Illinois and Ohio. Along the way, the show also offers snapshots of the USA’s community-based conservation, public access, outreach and mentorship efforts, which are executed by an all-volunteer union labor force.

For a complete listing of upcoming episodes, CLICK HERE. To watch episodes online, visit www.myoutdoortv.com.

Presented by Bank of Labor, Brotherhood Outdoors is also sponsored by the following unions, contractors and corporate partners: Buck Knives, Burris, Carhartt, Flambeau, Steiner, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, National Electrical Contractors Association, and United Association/International Training Fund’s Veterans in Piping Program.

Union Pipefitter Tracks Down Trophy Whitetails On USA Brotherhood Outdoors TV Series

October 22, 2018 in Articles, Brotherhood Outdoors TV, Hunting, Press Release

UA pipefitter Trent Stavely sets his sights on a trophy buck on this week’s episode of Brotherhood Outdoors.

Union pipefitter Trent Stavely of Birch Run, Michigan, journeys to Illinois in pursuit of trophy whitetail bucks when he appears in an episode of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s (USA) Brotherhood Outdoors television series airing the week of Oct. 22 on Sportsman Channel.

Stavely, a member of UA Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 85, was chosen to appear on the show based on his passion for his profession, his love of the great outdoors and his pride in carrying on a rich family tradition by being part of the union brotherhood. 

“Being union runs in my blood,” he says. “My father, uncle and grandfather were all pipefitters, and other family members belonged to unions as well. Being a union member means more to me than words can explain.”

A diehard whitetail hunter, Stavely jumped at the chance to travel to the legendary hunting grounds of Illinois to join South Fork Outfitting in search of a mature buck. And when the hunt takes an unexpected turn, he switches gears and heads out on Lake Michigan for an epic fishing expedition.

Catch all the exciting action when Stavely’s episode airs Tuesday, Oct. 23 at 4 p.m. Eastern, or when it re-airs Wednesday at 11:30 a.m., Saturday at 1:30 a.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m. Eastern.

Watch as Stavely’s whitetail hunt takes an unexpected twist.

Award-winning Brotherhood Outdoors is currently in its 10th season of whisking hardworking union members away on action-packed hunting and fishing adventures. 

Produced by creative powerhouse Rusted Rooster Media, the series puts the spotlight on union members who are as passionate about the outdoors as they are about keeping the country running. Each episode takes viewers to the homes, communities and jobsites of these tireless American workers for an inspirational glimpse at their backstories before heading onto the water or into the field.

The 2018 Brotherhood Outdoors season features union members in pursuit of New Mexico elk, Wyoming pronghorns, Mexican permit and bonefish, Saskatchewan waterfowl and black bears, Louisiana redfish and trophy whitetails in Illinois and Ohio. Along the way, the show also offers snapshots of the USA’s community-based conservation, public access, outreach and mentorship efforts, which are executed by an all-volunteer union labor force.

For a complete listing of upcoming episodes, visit http://www.thesportsmanchannel.com/shows/brotherhood-outdoors. To watch episodes online, visit www.myoutdoortv.com.

Presented by Bank of Labor, Brotherhood Outdoors is also sponsored by the following unions, contractors and corporate partners: Buck Knives, Burris, Carhartt, Flambeau, Steiner, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, National Electrical Contractors Association, and United Association/International Training Fund’s Veterans in Piping Program.

Ohio AFL-CIO, Union Volunteers Introduce Marietta Youths to Fishing

October 17, 2018 in Conservation News, Fishing, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

More than 100 local youngsters and their families participated in the Marietta Area Take Kids Fishing Day at scenic Buckeye Park in Marietta, Ohio, on Saturday, October 13. A joint effort by the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA), Ohio AFL-CIO, Ohio Division of Wildlife and a consortium of other partners, the free community event was aimed at introducing the next generation of anglers and conservationists to the joys of fishing.

Much to their delight, the youngsters received a free rod and reel courtesy of Pure Fishing and game calls from Plano Synergy. 

Ohio AFL-CIO Field Director Jeanette Mauk reported that union volunteers representing IBEW Local 968 and Local 972, SMART Local 33, Southeastern Ohio CLC Laborers and Ohio AFL-CIO provided instruction and assistance, which included setting up and baiting the participants’ new fishing poles, plus offering sage advice on how to hook the big one.

After fishing, the budding anglers and their families were treated to a picnic-style lunch, which provided the perfect opportunity to swap fish stories with their mentors.

“Union members are quick to give back to their communities, especially when it involves conservation and youths,” Mauk said. “We were surprised how many local youngsters had never held a fishing pole. Hopefully now that they’ve experienced the sport and have their own fishing equipment, they’ll continue to enjoy the sport for years to come.”

Participants were eager to wet a line with their new rod-and-reel combos, donated by Pure Fishing.

“It was wonderful to have the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance, Ohio AFL-CIO and union volunteers come together with our local civic team and other partners to make this event a success,” added Susan Joyce, office manager for Marietta’s Public Facilities Department. “The kids loved it and a great time was had by all.”

Event sponsors included the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife, JD Waterproofing, Ohio AFL-CIO, Marietta Building Trades, Southeast Ohio Labor Council, the city of Marietta, Pure Fishing, Take Me Fishing and Plano-Synergy.

In preparation for the event, the USA leveraged an ODNR grant to stock the pond at Buckeye Park with trout to bolster already abundant populations of gamefish, including catfish, bluegills and bass. The USA also contracted aquatic vegetation-control services to combat excessive weedgrowth that made the water body difficult to fish.

“Take Kids Fishing Day events aim to educate a future generation of American anglers from diverse communities and backgrounds,” explained USA Conservation Manager Robert Stroede. “As a bonus, Marietta residents will enjoy lasting benefits from the fish stocking and vegetation control efforts at Buckeye Park.”

The Marietta event was one of six free, community-based Take Kids Fishing Day activities held in 2018 as part of Work Boots on the Ground – the USA’s flagship conservation program. The other events were held in Barboursville, West Virginia, and Eau Claire, Janesville, La Crosse and Madison, Wisconsin. In all, a total of 838 youths participated.

“With more than 40 million anglers generating $35 billion in retail sales and $600 million for fisheries conservation and public water access through special excise taxes each year, it’s critical to continue recruiting new anglers,” Stroede added. “Plus, research has shown that outdoor-related activities such as fishing create participatory pathways for children to experience nature and help kindle a lifelong interest in environmental conservation,” he said.

Collingdale Roofer, Community Volunteer Savors Saltwater Fishing Adventure On USA Brotherhood Outdoors TV Series

October 13, 2018 in Articles, Brotherhood Outdoors TV, Fishing, Press Release

Union roofer and tireless community volunteer George Matteson of Collingdale, Pennsylvania, sets his sights on saltwater fly-fishing adventure when he appears in an episode of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s (USA) Brotherhood Outdoors television series airing the week of Oct. 14 on Sportsman Channel.

Matteson, a 38-year union roofer and member of Roofers and Waterproofers Local 30 of the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers, was chosen to appear on the show based on his lifelong commitment to his profession, the union brotherhood and community service.

Matteson is an active member of Tobyhanna Conservation Association, which promotes hunting, fishing, and improving community members’ access to the outdoors. He has also coached and mentored local youths in a variety of activities including fishing, shooting sports, football, baseball and basketball, and regularly umpires for the local Special Olympics.

An accomplished freshwater fly angler, Matteson has long dreamed of pursuing saltwater species. During this episode of Brotherhood Outdoors, these dreams are realized as Matteson travels to the legendary fishing grounds of Ascension Bay, Mexico, to tackle bonefish, permit and other gamefish out of the luxurious Palometa Club.

Matteson’s Ascension Bay adventure fulfilled his lifelong dream of pursuing saltwater gamefish on the fly.

Catch all the exciting action on the brine when Matteson’s episode airs Tuesday, Oct. 16 at 4 p.m. Eastern, or when it re-airs Wednesday at 11:30 a.m., Saturday at 1:30 a.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m. Eastern.

Award-winning Brotherhood Outdoors is currently in its 10th season of whisking hardworking union members away on action-packed hunting and fishing adventures. Produced by creative powerhouse Rusted Rooster Media, the series puts the spotlight on union members who are as passionate about the outdoors as they are on keeping the country running. Each episode takes viewers to the homes, communities and jobsites of these tireless American workers for an inspirational glimpse at their backstories before heading onto the water or into the field.

The 2018 Brotherhood Outdoors season also features union members in pursuit of New Mexico elk, Wyoming pronghorns, Mexican permit and bonefish, Saskatchewan waterfowl and black bears, Louisiana redfish and trophy whitetails in Illinois and Ohio. Along the way, the show also offers snapshots of the USA’s community-based conservation, public access, outreach and mentorship efforts, which are executed by an all-volunteer union labor force.

For a complete listing of upcoming episodes, CLICK HERE. To watch episodes online, visit www.myoutdoortv.com.

Presented by Bank of Labor, Brotherhood Outdoors is also sponsored by the following unions, contractors and corporate partners: Buck Knives, Burris, Carhartt, Flambeau, Steiner, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, National Electrical Contractors Association, and United Association/International Training Fund’s Veterans in Piping Program.

Union Prison Inspector Pursues Big Buck Bowhunting Dreams On Brotherhood Outdoors TV Series

October 3, 2018 in Brotherhood Outdoors TV, Hunting, Press Release

Veteran prison inspector and longtime union member Stephen Noll of Lemoyne, Pennsylvania, sets his sights on trophy Ohio whitetail bucks when he appears in an episode of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s (USA) Brotherhood Outdoors television series airing Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018 through the week of Oct. 7 on Sportsman Channel.

Noll, a prison inspector for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and member of AFSCME Council 13, was chosen to appear on the show based on his commitment to his profession and local community during 17 years of service.

Noll was introduced to firearms hunting by his father at the age of 16, but didn’t take up archery deer hunting until 2011 while recovering from a series of surgeries. He quickly became a diehard archer in hot pursuit of his dream to put a big buck on lockdown.

During this episode of Brotherhood Outdoors, Noll travels to the legendary whitetail country outside Killbuck, Ohio, to hunt with Wolf Creek Outfitters. Deer are plentiful but mature bucks prove elusive as the clock winds down on Noll’s adventure.

Emotions are high and the waiting games are long until opportunity finally knocks. “This was the hunt of a lifetime,” Noll recalls. “The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance did it right and gave me an experience I’ll never forget—ever.”

Catch all the exciting action when Noll’s episode airs Saturday Oct. 6 at 6:30 p.m. as part of Sportsman Channel’s Buck Fever Marathon. It airs again Tuesday, Oct. 9 at 4 p.m. Eastern, then again Wednesday at 11:30 a.m., Saturday at 1:30 a.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m. Eastern.

Award-winning Brotherhood Outdoors is currently in its 10th season of whisking hardworking union members away on action-packed hunting and fishing adventures. Produced by creative powerhouse Rusted Rooster Media, the series puts the spotlight on union members who are as passionate about the outdoors as they are about keeping the country running. Each episode takes viewers to the homes, communities and jobsites of these tireless American workers for an inspirational glimpse at their backstories before heading onto the water or into the field.

The 2018 Brotherhood Outdoors season also features union members in pursuit of New Mexico elk, Wyoming pronghorns, Mexican permit and bonefish, Saskatchewan waterfowl and black bears, Louisiana redfish and trophy whitetails in Illinois and Ohio. Along the way, the show also offers snapshots of the USA’s community-based conservation, public access, outreach and mentorship efforts, which are executed by an all-volunteer union labor force.

For a complete listing of upcoming episodes, CLICK HERE. To watch episodes online, visit www.myoutdoortv.com.

Presented by Bank of Labor, Brotherhood Outdoors is also sponsored by the following unions, contractors and corporate partners: Buck Knives, Burris, Carhartt, Flambeau, Steiner, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, National Electrical Contractors Association, and United Association/International Training Fund’s Veterans in Piping Program.

Jacksonville Firefighter Pursues Canadian Black Bears On Brotherhood Outdoors TV Series

September 27, 2018 in Brotherhood Outdoors TV, General, Hunting, Press Release

John Long takes aim at wilderness adventure and trophy bruins on Brotherhood Outdoors.

Firefighter John Long of Jacksonville, Florida, pursues trophy black bears in the Canadian wilderness when he appears in an episode of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s (USA) Brotherhood Outdoors television series airing the week of Oct. 1 on Sportsman Channel.

Fire Captain Long, a longtime member of the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department and IAFF Firefighters Local 122, was chosen to appear on the show based on his unwavering commitment to his local community and citizens in need nationwide during 29 years of service.

A lifelong Jacksonville resident, Long has traveled the country responding to disasters with the FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Team. In fact, at press time, Long was deployed in South Carolina with his K-9 partner Stone, working with FEMA as a canine search team in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence. Long also serves as Public Relations/Communications Director for Local 122 and Sergeant-At-Arms for the Florida Professional Firefighters.

“He honestly is my hero, because he will take the shirt off his back for you,” said his daughter, Jessica Anderson. “His passion is to make sure everyone is OK before he is.”

As this episode of Brotherhood Outdoors chronicles, Long travels to the Saskatchewan backcountry three hours north of Saskatoon twice in search of a trophy bruin. During his first dream bear hunt in the fall, Mother Nature throws a wrench in his plans. But a redemption hunt in the spring gives Long a fresh start and a different ending.

Catch all the exciting action when Long’s episode airs Tuesday, Oct. 2 at 4 p.m. Eastern, or when it re-airs Wednesday at 11:30 a.m., Saturday at 1:30 a.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m. Eastern.

Award-winning Brotherhood Outdoors is currently in its 10th season of whisking hardworking union members away on action-packed hunting and fishing adventures. Produced by creative powerhouse Rusted Rooster Media, the series puts the spotlight on union members who are as passionate about the outdoors as they are on keeping the country running. Each episode takes viewers to the homes, communities and jobsites of these tireless American workers for an inspirational glimpse at their backstories before heading onto the water or into the field.

The 2018 Brotherhood Outdoors season also features union members in pursuit of New Mexico elk, Wyoming pronghorns, Mexican permit and bonefish, Saskatchewan waterfowl and black bears, Louisiana redfish and trophy whitetails in Illinois and Ohio. Along the way, the show also offers snapshots of the USA’s community-based conservation, public access, outreach and mentorship efforts, which are executed by an all-volunteer union labor force.

For a complete listing of upcoming episodes, CLICK HERE.

To watch episodes online, visit www.myoutdoortv.com.

Presented by Bank of Labor, Brotherhood Outdoors is also sponsored by the following unions, contractors and corporate partners: Buck Knives, Burris, Carhartt, Flambeau, Steiner, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, National Electrical Contractors Association, and United Association/International Training Fund’s Veterans in Piping Program.

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Dedicates Newly Renovated Vilas Park Fishing Pier 


September 19, 2018 in Conservation News, Fishing, General, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

Union volunteers join together to celebrate the completion of the USA’s Vilas Park Work Boots on the Ground fishing pier project, improving access to the lake for all.

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA), volunteers from the Building and Construction Trades Council of South Central Wisconsin (BTC) and a crowd of union and community leaders, volunteers, park staff and youths gathered at the newly renovated Vilas Park Fishing Pier in Madison, Wisconsin, on September 14, 2018 to celebrate better public access to popular Lake Wingra.

Using funds raised at the USA’s annual AFL-CIO, BTC Madison Area Conservation Dinner, more than 50 local union volunteers teamed up with the USA and the city of Madison to transform the park’s original floating fishing pier—which was languishing in disrepair in a city storage yard—into a safe structure fully accessible to residents of all physical abilities.

More than $28,000 in materials and nearly $10,000 in union volunteer labor were donated to the project, which was organized under through the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) conservation program. Volunteers coordinated transportation of the pier to one of the local union shops where over the course of a cold Wisconsin winter, numerous repairs were made, including the installation of new decking and a sturdy railing system.

In preparation for installation of the renovated pier, volunteers and union contractors also designed and constructed a pier abutment as well as a new sidewalk and steps on the edge of Lake Wingra.

Four-year-old Natalie Paull of Madison caught her first fish while fishing with her father, Adam, within minutes of the dedication ceremony.

As a testament to the access the new pier provides community members to Wingra’s panfish, bass and other gamefish, the structure was in use within minutes of the dedication. As union representatives and volunteers packed up to leave, Adam Paull of Madison took his four-year-old daughter Natalie fishing on the new pier. Thanks to the abundant and hungry sunfish schooling a short cast from the dock, she quickly reeled in the first fish of her life.

Natalie was ecstatic, while her father was grateful to the union volunteers, Union Sportsmen’s Alliance and other project partners for providing a place to create such priceless memories. “This is great,” he said. “The pier is in the perfect place for us to enjoy the lake together and catch fish.”

City officials were likewise grateful. “I’m deeply appreciative to the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance and all the trades for making this happen,” said Madison Parks Superintendent Eric Knepp. “The high quality of craftsmanship displayed by these union volunteers is a testament to their commitment to this project and to their community, and marks the continuation of a longstanding tradition of union workers giving back to the city of Madison.”

“The Building Trades Council has been working with the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance for six years to raise funds for conservation projects and Take Kids Fishing youth events,” said project leader BCT Executive Director Dave Branson. “We feel this fishing pier was a good project to give back to the community and make the lake accessible to everyone.”

“The Vilas Park pier project is an excellent example of how local unions are positively impacting their communities and the future of conservation through the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s Work Boots on the Ground program,” added USA Conservation Manager Robert Stroede. “This pier provides improved and safer public access for all residents to enjoy the fishery and beauty of Lake Wingra.”

In an outstanding display of solidarity and community service, a coalition of volunteers from the following unions and groups donated their time and skills to this project: Ironworkers (IW) Local 383, International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC) Local 13, United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (UBC) Local 314, International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers (IAHFIAW) Local 19, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 159, International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC) Local 132, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) District Council 7, Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) Locals 113 and 330, Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) Local 18, Badger Sheet Metal, Forse Consulting, Ideal Crane, Sullivan Design Build, Terra Engineering and Construction, and Wiedenbeck, Inc.

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Expands Youth Events With Tennessee Dove Hunt

September 14, 2018 in Articles, Conservation News, Hunting, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

Mentored hunts are one of many youth outreach events supported by the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance.

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) is a perennial supporter of community-based efforts to introduce youths to hunting, conservation and the great outdoors, and the organization was proud to add Tennessee’s 13th Annual Maury County-Steve Brown Memorial Youth Dove Hunt to its list of sponsored events. 

Held Saturday, Sept. 8 at the Middle Tennessee Research and Education Center outside Spring Hill, the hunt was organized by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Tennessee Wildlife Officers Association and a coalition of local organizations and businesses.

More than 40 boys and girls ages 9-17 were treated to a full day of outdoor fun and education capped off by exciting wingshooting over well-managed fields. The event included registration, lunch, clay target shooting, door prizes, safety orientation and the dove hunt, which concluded at sunset. The USA provided backpacks, Plano Synergy game calls and a variety of door prizes.

“Activities like this are a great way to get youths started hunting,” said event organizer TWRA Wildlife Officer Ryne Goats. “Since wildlife agencies in Tennessee and elsewhere are funded primarily by hunting and fishing license sales and taxes on the sale of related equipment, getting youth involved in hunting and fishing also promotes the conservation of all types of fish and wildlife.”

“These types of youth mentored events are critical to the future of hunting, angling and recreational shooting in our nation,” said USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance, who was on hand at the hunt. “State agencies across the nation provide these opportunities for young people and their families to experience first-hand the fun, rewarding and unifying aspects of being outdoors with other like-minded people.   

“I encourage everyone to not only participate in these events, but also to find out how you can support and volunteer in your local area,” he added. “The USA is honored to sponsor and support events like this one in not only Tennessee, but many other states as well.”

More than 40 youths participated in the 13th Annual Maury County-Steve Brown Memorial Youth Dove Hunt Sept. 8.

“Funds and manpower for these kind of events are extremely limited,” Goats noted. “So assistance from the USA and other supporters is a tremendous help in making them a success.”

Saturday’s dove hunt was the latest in a series of USA-supported events in 2018. More than 700 youngsters were introduced to the joys of fishing in June during free, community-based Take Kids Fishing Day events orchestrated by the USA and teams of dedicated union volunteers.

The organization also organizes Get Youth Outdoor Day events, which educate attendees about hunting, firearms safety, recreational shooting, wildlife and conservation through hands-on activities and demonstrations. 

The USA also recently received a $30,000 grant from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) to hold a series of pilot events through its Work Boots on the Ground program in which local union volunteers trained in firearms safety instruction introduce participants to shooting disciplines including trap, sporting clays, riflery and archery. The events are part of NSSF’s successful First Shots program, which teaches first-time shooters about firearms respect, safety and the shooting sports.

The first of these pilot events is set for this Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018 in concert with the USA’s 7th Annual Get Youth Outdoors Day. It will be held at Wild Marsh Sporting Clays Shooting Facility in Clear Lake, Minnesota. Additional events are planned for Tennessee and Texas in 2019.

In addition, the USA and NSSF launched a reward program to thank union members who mentor newcomers to hunting, target shooting and firearms safety in 2018. Working through the USA’s national grassroots support system, international union partners and their locals, the program has already identified more than 1,500 mentors and sent each a complimentary Buck 364 Rival I knife customized with both organization’s logos.

Union Volunteers, Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Aid Wyoming Elk Management

August 22, 2018 in Conservation News, General, Hunting, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

Union volunteers recently collaborated with the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance to create a custom fence-crossing structure near Etna, Wyoming, that helps wildlife managers maintain healthy herds of free-ranging elk while protecting farmers’ crops from damage.

Volunteers from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 322 out of Casper donated 48 hours of skilled labor to install a gate-like “elk jump” along a fence that guides Wyoming elk during migrations between their high-country summer range and lower elevation winter feeding areas.

The volunteers reconfigured the fenceline, set poles, built a retaining wall and erected fencing. Lower Valley Energy provided a boom truck to aid in setting the poles during the project, which was organized under the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground program.

Derek Lemon, habitat and access coordinator for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Jackson Region, said the structure will make it easier for managers to safely drive wayward Wyoming elk back onto the right side of the fence.

“An 8-foot-high fence runs roughly 20 miles along the boundary between public and private lands to facilitate elk movement from the mountains to state-run winter feeding grounds,” he explained. “When elk get on the wrong side of the fence, they damage crops and raid haystacks. In response, state game wardens are called in to push the animals back to where they need to be.”

Wyoming Elk

Volunteers secure a retaining wall to the “elk jump” structure.

Elk jumps, which serve as one-way gates, allow wardens to avoid chasing elk all the way to the end of the fence. “An elk jump is basically an opening in the fence with a corner and small ramp on one side, and six-foot drop on the other,” said Lemon. “The animals are willing to jump down to cross the fence, but rarely pass through in the other direction.”

Completion of the new crossing earlier this month considerably shortens the distance wardens must push elk back to public land. “This reduces stress on the animals and allows wardens to focus more time on other enforcement duties,” said Lemon.

“The project was on our to-do list, but we didn’t have the manpower to make it happen,” he added. “Having union volunteers and the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance step in was fantastic because it allowed us to get the job done right away. It’s a win for the state, our wildlife and the local community.”

“When we learned of the need for this project, IBEW members jumped at the chance to help,” said IBEW Local 322 member Greg Moyer, who helped lead the construction effort.

“Union members are always interested in doing projects that improve the quality of life in our communities—and are particularly passionate about work that involves hunting, fishing, conservation and mentorship,” Moyer continued. “I’m grateful the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance and Work Boots on the Ground exist to help us with this community involvement.”

“Wyoming’s wintertime elk feeding program dates back more than a century and is critical to avoiding winter die-offs from starvation,” added USA Conservation Manager Robert Stroede. “The USA is proud to help union members assist the Game and Fish Department in maintaining an abundance of elk that can be enjoyed by all citizens.”

Wyoming Elk

Members of IBEW Local 322 jumped at the chance to help the local elk herd and safeguard farmers’ crops.

USA, NSSF Join Forces to Introduce Youths to the Shooting Sports

August 20, 2018 in Articles, Conservation News, General, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

 

shooting sports

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) and National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) are joining forces to introduce youths and their families to the enjoyment and rewarding experiences of safe and responsible recreational shooting.

Utilizing a $30,000 NSSF grant, the USA will hold a series of three pilot events through its Work Boots on the Ground program in which union volunteers trained in firearms safety instruction provide participants hands-on introductions to shooting disciplines including trap, sporting clays, riflery and archery.

Thanks to the NSSF grant and funds raised at USA shoots, dinners and other events, all supplies including eye and hearing protection, firearms and ammunition will be provided at no charge.

The USA pilot events will be part of NSSF’s successful First Shots program, which introduces first-time shooters to firearms respect, safety and the shooting sports.

The first pilot event is set for Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018 in concert with the USA’s 7th Annual Get Youth Outdoors Day—a free event open to boys and girls ages 9 to 17. The event will be held at Wild Marsh Sporting Clays Shooting Facility in Clear Lake, Minnesota, just north of Minneapolis. Attendees will also learn about wildlife, conservation and other outdoor traditions.

Additional events are planned for Tennessee and Texas in 2019.

“We’re excited to launch this pilot project with NSSF,” said USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance. “American union workers are as passionate about passing our shared outdoor heritage to the next generation as they are about hunting, fishing and shooting. USA Work Boots on the Ground youth projects have engaged thousands of youths, and NSSF’s support will assist us in further expanding these efforts.”

In turn, NSSF Director of Shooting Range Services Zach Snow said his organization is eager to tap union members’ love of the outdoors and spirit of volunteerism in NSSF’s quest to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports by increasing participation.

“Research has revealed a high percentage of hunters and shooters in union households,” he explained. “Working with the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance to help these folks create new shooters is a great fit for First Shots. We look forward to seeing this project grow and thrive.”

The USA-NSSF alliance follows USA partnerships with fishing industry powerhouse Pure Fishing and conservation champions Pheasants Forever and the National Wild Turkey Federation. The USA also recently partnered with industry leading product sales group Outtech and the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation, which is dedicated to protecting and restoring the nation’s aquatic resources by increasing participation in fishing and boating.

“Like the relationships with our charter unions and other allies, these agreements help the USA maintain its record-setting growth as we harness the passion, power and skills of Labor of union volunteers to impact the future of North America’s outdoor heritage in communities across the country,” said Vance.

IBEW, USA Member Aids Fishery Research That May Benefit Anglers Nationwide

August 17, 2018 in Articles, Fishing, General

fishery research

USA member Dave Halverson holds a healthy Iowa muskie captured for tagging and future study.

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance member Dave Halverson is helping complete ground-breaking fishery research that could help other anglers catch more muskies and walleyes on reservoirs across the continent.

Halverson, 35, hails from Truro, Iowa, a short cast south of Des Moines. A member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 347, the hard-working electrician has been charged up over muskies for years.

“I love their absolute power and elusiveness,” he explained. “The feeling I get from watching a giant muskie chase down and inhale a lure at boatside is incomparable—and watching the fish swim away after release keeps me coming back.”

Halverson’s passion for muskies led him to help launch the Mid-Iowa chapter of Muskies, Inc., a national nonprofit dedicated to improving muskie fishing.

“One of our main goals is promoting muskie conservation through catch-and-release,” he said. “We educate people that these fish are much better off in the water, where others can enjoy them for years to come, than they are on a dinner plate or a wall.”

fishery research

Halverson assists researchers inside a tagging station.

But Halverson didn’t stop there. He and fellow club members donated time and financial support to a 5-year fishery research study by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Iowa State University that could have implications for muskie and walleye management across the country.

“We provided volunteers to help biologists capture, tag and release fish this spring,” Halverson said. “To date, we’ve volunteered approximately 35 hours, but expect that figure to reach 200 hours by the project’s completion. We also secured a $2,000 Muskies, Inc. grant and used it to purchase 1,200 tags for the study.”

According to Iowa DNR biologist Ben Dodd, the research targets the dynamics of fish loss in man-made reservoirs due to escapement over dam spillways and is being conducted on central Iowa’s Brushy Creek and Big Creek lakes.

“Muskie abundance in Big Creek Lake declined following heavy spring rains from 2007 to 2010,” said Dodd. “The fish were going over the spillway and scattering downstream. In 2012 we partnered with the Corps of Engineers, Big Creek State Park, Recycled Fish and Central Iowa Anglers to install a fish barrier at the Big Creek spillway.”

The barrier proved effective, but Dodd and Dr. Michael Weber of Iowa State University suspected some fish were still going with the flow. “To manage the lake so that it provides quality muskie fishing without throwing the food chain out of balance, we needed to know more about the number of fish lost and the variables related to escapement,” he said. “Walleyes are another important gamefish species affected by this issue, so we are studying them as well.”

fishery research

The study aims to determine the effectiveness of this fish barrier placed at the spillway Big Creek Lake.

Fishery research began in the spring of 2016, as DNR biologists and Iowa State researchers captured muskies and walleyes in both lakes and implanted tags that can be detected by automated readers located on the spillway of each lake. “Big Creek has a fish barrier and Brushy Creek does not, so the findings will help us compare the two scenarios and evaluate the effectiveness of the barrier,” Dodd said.

Halverson and other Mid-Iowa Muskies club members joined the fishery research effort in 2018. “Dave and other volunteers assisted us with electrofishing and netting fish, transporting them to a tagging station on shore and releasing them back into deep water in the middle of the lakes,” said Dodd. “These guys have been great to work with. It’s a nice partnership that enhances our ability to conduct valuable research with limited resources.”

While the study still has two years to go, Dodd said early results are already enlightening. “We’ve lost 170 tagged walleyes and 25 tagged muskies from Brushy Creek (no barrier), compared to just 13 walleyes and 5 muskies on Big Creek,” he said. “So, the barrier is definitely making a difference.”

The fishery research data also provides a wealth of useful information on each escapee. “We can tell the size, age and gender of the tagged fish that pass through the readers. We are also gathering data on other pertinent environmental factors, including water level, time of year and water temperature,” said Dodd. “On Big Creek, we’re really only losing a small number of younger fish and the larger, more valuable fish are staying in the lake.”

Dodd believes the study’s results could someday guide walleye and muskie management on impoundments far from the Iowa study area. “We will eventually present our research, which could help other fisheries biologists and ultimately improve fishing opportunities in reservoirs around the country,” he said.

For Halverson, such a prospect makes time spent volunteering even more rewarding. “It can seem like a second full-time job now and then,” he laughed. “But it’s definitely worth the effort.”

Halverson also has a message for his union brothers and sisters. “If you’re passionate about an outdoor sport or pursuing a particular species of fish or wildlife, get involved with an organization to protect that tradition and pass it along to future generations,” he says. “The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance and Muskies, Inc. are two examples of groups that can help you make a difference.”

Written by Dan Johnson

Catching Summertime Crappie and Catfish Day and Night

August 16, 2018 in Articles, Fishing, General

 

Summertime is made for inviting friends and family for a fish fry. Two delicious fish to catch day or night are crappie and catfish. These fish bite best when the current is running. Or, in a lake without current, both crappie and catfish will hold on the thermocline, a place where cool water from the bottom and the warmer top layer water meet along the edges of underwater creek and river channels, humps, drop-offs, brush and ledges.

Taking Summer Crappie Day and Night Crappie and Catfish

Avid crappier Jonathan Phillips of Wetumpka, Alabama, knows that summertime crappie will relate to underwater structure that can’t be spotted without a depth finder and uses these tactics when he fishes crappie tournaments all across the nation.

“I like a Humminbird Helix 10 HD side scanning and down scanning depth finder,” Phillips says.

Since Phillips generally fishes offshore in a main lake or the main part of the river where jet skiers and pleasure boaters create waves, he explains, “Instead of using multiple poles and spider rigging during the summer, I’ll fish with a single pole with either a double- or a single-minnow rig straight down to where I’ve located the crappie with my depth finder.”

He also uses maps like Navionics and Humminbird’s LakeMaster, searches for contour bottom changes and scans with his depth finder around underwater structure to know where crappie are ganged-up.

Phillips compares catching summer crappie in deep water to picking cotton. “Start at the top of the school, catch as many crappie as possible, move deeper into the cover or the ledge, and then catch the center of the crappie school to keep from spooking other crappie.”

Phillips usually has 50-100 crappie locations identified and says, “I never try to catch all the crappie on any Crappie and Catfishlocation.”

When he drops a buoy on top of a school, he explains that he wants his minnow, “dancing right above the crappie. I’ll tight-line with live minnows and fish larger-profile jigs, due to the big size of the spawned shad. You must keep your minnows alive with a battery-powered aerator in a cooler containing ice treated with Better Bait Systems to get rid of chlorine and the minnows’ ammonia problem.”

The amount of weight Phillips fishes depends on depth and current, primarily 1/2- to 3/4-ounce on 8-pound-test hi-vis main line with a slip sinker above a barrel swivel and 18 inches of 6-pound leader with a #1 wire crappie hook at its end. If vertical jigging, Phillips fishes a chartreuse-colored jig or a jig with a chartreuse tail, doesn’t tip his jigs with minnows and uses fish attractant.

To avoid the heaviest boat traffic from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm, he often fishes with his wife Alicia at night near deep-water boat docks with lights that attract baitfish and crappie. However, they’ve learned the best summer crappie bite often occurs from just before daylight until 10:00 am.

Crappie fishermen across the country use these methods of catching crappie as well as longline trolling with jigs and/or crankbaits, fishing small inline spinners, side-pulling hair jigs tipped with minnows, shooting docks with jigs and fishing shallow water and deep water blowdowns with minnows.

Catching Daytime Summer CatfishCrappie and Catfish

Everyone knows tailraces are productive places to catch summer catfish in the daytime. Dams are summertime catfish-catching sites, and locks offer long concrete walls leading into the lock where baitfish and catfish hold. Motor up to the lock wall, run beside the wall with a depth finder to spot baitfish and structure, kill your motor and start fishing.

Most dams have wing walls in front of their floodgates, coming from the base of the dam out into the water, with the concrete above the water extending below the water. The end of an underwater wing wall often will have a hole that’s been created due to the tremendous amount of current at the end of the wing wall when the floodgates are open, and/or water comes over the dam. Below the dam too, the underwater rock piles will yield catfish.

Catfish may hold in the slack water created when turbines run side by side, and the underwater rocks break the current, forming a slack-water groove or seam. Bumping the bottom for catfish there is very effective.

Many anglers fish for cats with abrasion-resistant 15-20-pound line and check their lines every time they catch a catfish to identify the damage done by the catfish. The sharp, bony spines on a catfish’s dorsal and pectoral fins will nick and cut line. Some catfishermen will move 10 – 12 inches up the line, pinch on a 1/2-ounce split shot, tie a #2 Eagle Claw Pattern 84 hook onto the end of the line, and fish with live threadfin shad minnows. This size hook allows you to hook the threadfin shad through the nose without killing it.

Taking Big Catfish by Day and NightCrappie and Catfish

During the summer whether the current’s running or not, Phil King of Corinth, Mississippi, who’s won numerous national catfish contests, as well as participated in international catfish competitions, searches for monster sized catfish – 12–100 pounders – in holes in the bottoms of lakes and rivers by day and at night.
“I use my depth finder to locate holes in the bottom and often can spot catfish holding in front of a hole, in a hole or in a second drop-off in the hole,” King explains. “I define a hole in the bottom as a small depression that may only be 4–5 feet wide and 6–10 feet long, or it may be a deep bottom break that runs for 1/2-mile downriver.”

To fish the holes, King likes a two hook rig baited with fresh chicken livers, sometimes dipping them in red food coloring. Here’s how King rigs to fish holes. His main line is 60-65-pound test braided line with a heavy duty three-way swivel tied to it. Coming off the second eye of the three-way swivel, King ties 2 feet of 60-pound monofilament line and a No. 5/0 or a No. 8/0 circle hook. On the bend of the hook, he attaches 2-4 inches of 60-pound monofilament line and adds a second hook, since he fishes for very large catfish. Coming from the third eye of the three-way swivel, he ties 2 feet of 60-pound monofilament and attaches a 1-4-ounce lead sinker, depending on the current.

“When I go downriver to fish holes, I think about how to position my boat and how to fish those holes,” King reports. “I’ll start fishing above the hole and bump my baits back with a controlled drift, using my trolling motor, so that I can catch fish in front of the hole first. If the cats are in a feeding mode, they’ll be out of the hole and from 5–10 feet out in front of the lip of the break. If they’re not in a feeding mode, they’ll be down in the hole.Crappie and Catfish

“Let your lead and your bait drift back about 40 to 60 feet from the boat as you bump the bottom and while you’re holding your boat against the current with your trolling motor. You want to feel your lead tag the bottom slightly as you walk the bait back to the edge of the hole and allow the lead and the bait to fall into the hole. Continue to bump the lead back along the bottom of the hole.”

To catch the very big cats, remain silent in the boat anywhere around the hole. King has discovered that the bigger a catfish is, the more sensitive it is to sound. Then you can catch, photograph and release a monster catfish.

*** Be sure to check the regulations in your state about the sizes of catfish you can keep.

Written by John E. Phillips 

8 Ways to Connect Kids to the Outdoors

August 13, 2018 in Articles, General

Growing up in a little northern Wisconsin town, my brother, John, and I were wild kids that spent all of our free time in the woods and waters near our home. There was no internet then, we didn’t have cable TV and we lived to be outside. For us, every day was a new and exciting adventure of our own choosing—we swam, climbed trees, caught frogs and snakes, built stick forts and let our unbound imaginations steer our lives. We were untamed and unencumbered by all of the woes of the world. We were wild children!

Our kids today have it much tougher. The invention of the internet, smart phones, Netflix and 200 channel TVs are robbing them of the wild upbringings we had. Today’s plugged-in, tuned-in, logged-on world is inhibiting their natural adventuresome spirits. The good news is that it’s not too late—grand adventures still await those who seek them. Here are 8 Ways to Connect Kids to the Outdoors.

8 Ways to Connect Kids to the Outdoors:

1. Camping8 Ways to Connect Kids to the Outdoors

Camping is simple, easy, affordable and fun. A cheap tent, a couple sleeping bags and, most importantly, a positive attitude and you can turn an overnight in the backyard into a wild adventure to a new, undiscovered place. If your kids are really young, start with a night in the tent in the living room, then in the backyard and then to an actual campground. Ease into it, and avoid camping if it’s wet or cold until they are seasoned campers. A roaring campfire and headlamp for each kid helps ease the fear of the dark. Lots of food and snacks keep tummies quiet and happy too. Campgrounds are plentiful and easy to find with a little research. Our family prefers National Forest campgrounds because they are typically more remote and have more distance between the campsites. Most feature a lake or other natural point of interest that can provide additional opportunities. Check out www.reserveamerica.com to find a campsite that suits your comfort level.

2. Kayaking8 Ways to Connect Kids to the Outdoors

The surge of interest in small kayaks is easy to understand once you paddle one. People young and old love being on the water, and a 10 or 12-foot kayak is affordable and easy to paddle. Their small size, slow speed and quiet propulsion provide a more intimate connection to the water and the wildlife that surrounds it. Our family frequently paddles the rivers around our home. Getting a few friends to join in adds to the enjoyment and helps with pre-positioning vehicles. We typically plan two to four hour paddles starting upstream and ending at a bridge or take-out where we can leave a vehicle. Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy in a scenic spot and a waterproof camera to capture the scenery. Websites like www.paddling.com can help you find a paddling adventure near you.

3. Geocaching

Geocaching offers a simple but thrilling premise to kids. Use a simple GPS device to find hidden treasures! Kids and adults love the allure of navigating and searching not knowing what will be found at the cache. Geocaches are everywhere; I bet you have one within a few blocks of your home. Visit the website www.geocaching.com and set up a free account. Then search for caches that you would like to look for. Typically, most caches will have marked trinkets that you can take and then relocate to a different cache. You can log your finds on the website and begin marking off geocaches found on your family trips. Plus, it is a good excuse for you to get that new GPS you have been thinking about too.

4. Campfire Cooking8 Ways to Connect Kids to the Outdoors

Cooking over a campfire brings out something primal in kids. The simple act of cooking a meal becomes a lesson about where their food comes from. There are lots of fun campfire recipes, but simple hobo meals like a hot dog on a stick or s’mores make it fun and easy to cook over an open fire. If you take the time to plan ahead and do a little of the prep work ahead of time, cooking over a campfire can be enjoyable for adults too. Always have a backup plan to feed the hungry if things get burned or don’t turn out. In Boy Scouts, we start the kids with basic, fun foods and, within a couple years, they are making gourmet meals in Dutch ovens over open fires.

5. Fly a kite

Modern kites have come a long way from the old cross framed ones we used to make from dowels and paper and then promptly crash. The new aerodynamic delta designs make modern kites easy to fly and beautiful to watch. For a young child, it is hard to beat the magical experience of holding onto a string while a kite pulls and dances in the sky on the other end. Kite flying is affordable, and the equipment can be used over and over again. Pick up a couple of kite kits and help the kids build and decorate them. They will love the time spent with you in anticipation of watching something they have made soar high into the blue sky. Have the kids help watch the forecast for a day with some steady winds. Then head to the local park or open space for a couple of hours of fun.

6. Rock Climbing 8 Ways to Connect Kids to the Outdoors

Getting into rock climbing is not difficult, and good spots can be found all over. Rock climbing doesn’t need to be as extreme as highly technical climbs on steep pitches. Instead, think about climbing lower angle rocks and hillsides. With some basic safety training, single belay line, a simple harness and helmet, you can be off for a grand adventure. I recommend hiring a guide the first couple of times to learn the basics and experiment with equipment. Typically, they are affordable and excited to teach the sport to newcomers. The big thing to remember is not to over complicate it. Kids naturally are curious climbers. Just add in a measure of safety, and the enjoyment of a day exploring rocks will trump Snapchat any day.

7. Take a hike8 Ways to Connect Kids to the Outdoors

Turn a simple walk in the woods into an adventuresome hike exploring a new and wild place. Bring the camera, binoculars and a birding book to maximize the time on the trail. Make a game out of who can spot the most bird and wildlife species. The level of enjoyment on a hike is totally set by you. If you bring a level of excitement and discovery, the kids will too. Bring along a pack with plenty of snacks, water, sunscreen and bug spray. Each hike can be framed as a new journey with untold wonder with you as the guide. Point out things that might be obvious to you but not the kids, such as plants, animals or landscape features. This is your chance to impart your woodsman knowledge onto the next generation.

8. Photography

Photography is a way for kids to look at the outdoors through a totally different lens. A camera can steer kids to discover new and beautiful things they might not normally notice. Tell them you are taking them on a photo safari. Then go to a local natural area to explore with camera in hand. Set out on your safari to discover and document bugs, birds, flowers, landscapes, sunsets and wildlife of all kinds. Digital cameras can be found in a variety of price ranges to fit your budget. I recommend spending as much as you can afford on a camera. Cell phone cameras still lag in picture quality when compared to a quality DSLR camera, and the point is to get the kids away from their phones and connected to the world around them. The photos you take together while on your safari will forever remind you about your time together venturing into new and wild places.8 Ways to Connect Kids to the Outdoors

Take this list of ideas to the kids. Then, hide their smart phones and get outside to pursue some adventures in the great outdoors. Fun, exciting and engaging outdoor activities bring out their imaginations and will help them find their inner wild child.

Written by Bob Barteck, IAFF Local 425 Alumni

 

Shotgunning Tips to Help You Break More Clays and Drop More Birds

August 7, 2018 in Articles, General, Hunting

shotgun shooting tips

Accuracy doesn’t happen by accident. Whether you’re on the firing line at a trap range or taking aim as a rooster pheasant flushes in the field, there are tricks to hitting the target.

To boost your odds of making every shot count, we offer the following five timely shotgun shooting tips. Keep in mind there’s no time like the present to put these shotgun shooting tips into practice, since August is National Shooting Sports Month, organized by the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance allies at the National Shooting Sports Foundation. For more information and to locate a shooting facility in your area, CLICK HERE.

Get Fit

It doesn’t matter whether you’re gunning for upland game or clay pigeons, proper shotgun fit is crucial to consistent success. The reason is simple: If your gun doesn’t fit, it might not shoot where you’re looking.

A number of factors come into play, including length of pull, pitch and drop at both comb and heel. Good news is, simple tests can help you check fit, such as lining up the beads to form a figure-eight and making sure you’re not crawling up a short stock or over-extending your form due to a protracted length of pull. If you have any doubts about a shotgun’s fit, work with a reputable gunsmith for a solution.

Make Yourself Comfortable

Shooters who find their comfort zone hit more targets. One of the best ways to achieve stress-free shotgunning is to become intimately familiar with your firearm, so there’s no fumbling or hesitation at the moment of truth. Practice is key to making this happen, so don’t skimp on range time.

A comfortable shooting position also boosts success. Shooting coaches like the legendary Rick Marshall Jr. recommend finding your most comfortable position and then assuming it whenever possible, so you can swing the barrel with no restriction of movement.

shotgun shooting tips

Trap shooting ace Rick Marshall advises shooters to stay focused and be comfortable, confident and familiar with their firearms.

Stay Focused

Total concentration helps avoid misses fueled by distraction. When you begin to mount the gun, focus on seeing what you want to hit. Toward that end, Marshall suggests using a catch phrase to keep your mind on point.

The words are up to you. Since the goal is to help you focus, short and sweet phrases are best. For example, when trapshooting, Marshall tells himself to “see the target” right before he calls pull. “That way, when the target comes out, I see it and break it,” he says. “It’s as simple as that.”

Chin Up

A poor attitude can kill your accuracy faster than almost anything. “Shooting is 90 percent mental, 10 percent physical,” Marshall tells students. ““Keep a positive attitude and believe in yourself, even after you miss a shot. I’ve seen too many shooters get discouraged after missing a target, then miss two or three more shots because the negative energy drags them down.”

In a similar vein, staying positive in the face of adversity such as inclement weather, strong winds or other challenges serves you better than complaining or worrying about them.

Practice With A Planshotgun shooting tips

Practice makes perfect, but the goals of practice are more important than just shooting. The secret to productive practice is not shooting as much as you can, but practicing with the goal of improving what you do. Otherwise you just repeat the same mistakes over and over.

Next time you head for the range, identify an area of your shooting you’d like to improve, then figure out how to fix it.

 

12 Tips to Help You See More Deer on Archery Opener

August 3, 2018 in General, Hunting

Archery Opener

1) Have Your Eyesight Checked and Improve Your Vision

Often hunters overlook the most critical tool to successful hunting – vision. I’ve always thought if you wear glasses, you can see better than people who don’t, and 20/20 vision and experience in hunting and shooting are enough to make someone a productive hunter. However, no matter how well you see, you can be taught to see better and to recognize what you see more quickly and accurately. According to optometrists I’ve spoken with, vision is the ability to use what you see to perform some task. For example, you use your eyesight to see a truck coming your way, but by using your vision, you know what to do to keep from getting run over.

“Being able to see deer in the woods, distinguishing bucks from does, perceiving direction of flight and then reacting quickly enough to take a shot are learned skills that can be developed and improved,” said Dr. Gary Etting, a developmental optometrist in Encino, California, who has worked with sports vision skills for U.S. Olympic teams.Archery Opener

2) Spend Twice as Much Time Scouting as Hunting

Bowhunter Dr. Robert Sheppard of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, says that to know you’ll have a buck in front of you on opening day, “Spend at least two hours scouting for every one hour hunting. Then less time is required to bag a buck.”

3) Pick Up Sheds and Use a Spotting Scope

Wildlife biologist Bob Zaiglin of Uvalde, Texas, reports that searching for shed antlers in the spring and the summer helps you to learn the numbers and sizes of bucks on the land you hunt. “Look for sheds and deer at naturally-occurring and manmade mineral licks in the summer to identify where deer are staying, besides watching farm crops, food plots and pastures to spot velvet anglers. I also use a spotting scope with a window mount to see deer from my truck in the summer.”

4) Meet the People Who Know Deer Where You Hunt

These people may see and know the locations of bucks on private and public lands and lands available for leasing – landowners, farmhands, wildlife biologists, foresters, timber cutters, school bus drivers, town barbers, bankers and postmen.

5) Know What Deer EatArchery Opener

Since deer are browsers and feed on more than 600 various types of plants, nuts and crops, you often can locate deer at many places. The local wildlife biologist for private and/or public lands can give you ideas of what the deer in your area prefer to eat at different times of the year.

6) Diagram a Green Field and Prepare Tree Stands and Shooting Lanes

First determine if a green field has quick access to dense cover, experiences little hunting pressure and is close to a place where deer travel. Identify the deer trails, pinpoint the best places for tree stands, and determine which way to approach a green field without your scent being carried there. Note that information in your GPS or logbook. Cut shooting lanes.

7) Pinpoint a Buck’s Core Area

“A deer must have three elements in its core area: food, water and cover, with cover being the most important,” Dr. Grant Woods, wildlife biologist from Reeds Spring, Missouri, says. “I define cover as a place where a deer feels secure and can avoid any disturbance that disrupt him by making him uneasy or raising his metabolic rate. Also constant wind direction influences the site a buck chooses for his core area, since deer use their noses more than their eyes for protection.”Archery Opener

8) Study Maps to Save Time Scouting

To look for places deer likely will be at the beginning of deer season, use Google Earth www.google.com/earth, Huntstand http://huntstand.com and OnX www.onxmaps.com maps. With your cell phone’s GPS, you can get to the sites where you want to hunt with Huntstand and OnX, even in regions with no cell service. Also MyTopo.com (www.mytopo.com) produces custom topographical maps, revealing where the high and low ground and water sources are. The aerial views can show you how much of the area is forested, nearby water sources and any development not visible from roads.

9) Set Aside a Sanctuary for Deer

The older, bigger bucks are the first deer to escape hunting pressure and move to sanctuary areas. One of the most common types of sanctuary areas are regions too hard to reach or too far away from an access road for most hunters to get. The second are little patches of thick cover that hunters walk past or don’t consider that they’re holding nice bucks. Alex Rutledge, nationally-known deer hunter from Birchtree, Mo., says, “Effective sanctuaries must have little or no human traffic.”

10) Choose Your Stand Site Last at Hunting Camp

Dr. Keith Causey, a retired professor of wildlife at Auburn University, once told me, “When I’m hunting private lands, I let everyone I’m hunting with pick the stand sites they want to hunt from that day. Then I take the area that no one else wants to hunt, and that’s often where I encounter bigger bucks – particularly on opening day.”

11) Use Attractants and Feeders Where Legal and Trail CamerasArchery Opener

To locate a buck to hunt on opening day, you need to be able to stop him, take a picture of him, watch him as his antlers grow and see where he goes after he leaves your attractant or feeder. Walk the edges of green fields to discover deer trails, and ask others about traditional deer trails.
A trail camera will help you determine what time of day or night the deer are appearing, as well as give you an idea of the buck-to-doe ratio on the property. Several cameras on the land will enable you to learn what trails bucks travel and where they are bedding.

12) Consider Hunting Cattle Farms

Alex Rutledge prefers to hunt cattle farms with their highly-nutritious soils that produce grasses and hay year-round and have water and pastures with thickets and shade trees. “The same needs of cattle equal all the same needs deer have.”

Written by John E. Phillips

Choose The Right Softbait For Better Summer Bass Fishing

August 2, 2018 in Fishing

Summer’s swelter doesn’t stop bass from biting. In fact, savvy anglers armed with the right lures and tactics can enjoy great hot-weather bass fishing for largemouths, smallies and spots.

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s tackle-crafting friends at Pure Fishing offer a wide variety of products to help us get the job done, including a fistful of bass-catching softbaits made in Spirit Lake, Iowa, by the company’s Berkley brand.

bass fishing

PowerBait Power Worm

The Berkley softbait arsenal is broken into three separate families: PowerBait, Gulp! and Havoc. Knowing how the baits in each of these lineups excel in different fishing situations can help you catch more bass all summer long.

PowerBaitInfused with a bass-busting cocktail of natural attractants, PowerBait is a great all-around option and exceptional when finicky largemouth bass play hard to catch—such as in heavily pressured lakes or whenever the fish aren’t in the mood to bite. PowerBait also makes bass hang onto the bait longer after striking, giving you extra time to set the hook.

Gulp!Designed to flood the strike zone with tempting attractants,
Gulp! baits are ideal for slow-moving presentations such as drifting and
dropshotting. A Gulp! Leech or Minnow on a size 1 to 1/0 dropshot hook is hard to beat for summer smallmouth bass.

bass fishing

Gulp! Leech

HavocWhile PowerBait and Gulp! products are rich in scent and flavor, Havoc baits are built to trigger bass that are using their vision and lateral line system to capture prey. They excel for fast presentations aimed at aggressive bass, but can be equally effective pitched, punched and twitched.

Havoc baits also bring a variety of colors, shapes and actions to the table. Tailoring these particulars to the conditions and mood of the fish can be critical to success, especially in clear water—which is just another example of how choosing the right bait for each situation or presentation can help USA members catch more bass on every trip.

bass fishing

Havoc Pit Boss

 

Bow Season Starts Now: Summer Prep for Serious Hunters

July 31, 2018 in Articles, General, Hunting

Bow Season

The very first time I shot a “real” bow, I missed. When I say I missed, I mean the entire target… at 10 yards. I can still hear the sound of that Easton Gamegetter XX75 arrow skipping off the trees and rocks, breaking apart to its final resting place in the woods behind my childhood home. Maybe an archaeologist will find the mangled aluminum wreckage someday… I sure couldn’t.

It was my brother’s High Country Sky Force, some of you may remember that bow. It had dual-hatchet cams and that unmistakable early-90s camo. It was, for seven-year-old me, the most beautiful thing in the world, despite the fact that I couldn’t hit water in the middle of the Atlantic with it. I learned a few valuable lessons that day. First, if you want to be good at something, you need to work at it. Second, I don’t like to miss. Some may say it crosses the line into loath. Lastly, I wanted to know why I missed.

A few months later, my dad scraped up the money and bought me my very own bow. Thus began my journey into all things archery. Bowhunting, 3D, target, indoor, field, if there was a bow involved, I wanted to be signed up. Honestly, I’m glad I missed that first arrow. It ignited a desire to get better, develop my shooting and bowhunting skills, and it allowed me to learn why I missed.

Speaking of bow season, as hunters, we spend thousands of dollars on leases, countless hours setting treestands, setting trail cameras, planting food plots, scouting and much more leading up to bow season. We spend more time, effort and money than we care to admit in preparation of setting ourselves up for the perfect situation. Now, how many of us put that same amount of time and effort into the one factor we can actually control in this situation: shooting our bows?

This isn’t a “shoot your bow more” article, although we all should. This is the nuts and bolts of practicing more effectively and preparing your equipment for the moment of truth, and there’s no time like the present to prepare for bow season.

BOW SEASON PREP:


BACK TO BASICS:

The most basic of the previously mentioned processes are your points of contact: feet to the ground, release hand, and grip position on the bow. You wouldn’t guess it, but just slightly changing the position of your feet (from neutral to open or closed stance) can drastically change impact points. Essentially, you are changing everything about your form from your hips all the way up to your shoulders, which will alter your orientation to the target. Find a stance that is comfortable for you and make sure your feet are in the same position, or as close to it as possible depending on terrain, each time you draw your bow.

Release hand position—or more importantly the consistency of that position— is important, but so is how you activate the release. You’ve probably heard about back tension, hinge releases, trigger releases, hand held releases, half-moons, click or no click, and the list goes on and on. At this point it’s important to find what works for you and what you can do every time you shoot your bow. Repeatability is the absolute key to accuracy in archery.

A repeatable grip position (with minimal lateral torque on the bow) is also important, but I’ve found through my own failures and testing that I have to make serious errors with my bow hand to have any noticeable impact differences inside of 50 yards, but the smallest deviation in form and position in my release hand can cause “flyer arrows” at 20 yards. Focus on how your release fits into your hand and how you are applying pressure to make the release fire.

INTRODUCE SOMEONE NEW 

Introducing someone new to the sport is a more than worthwhile venture in the summer. Not only do you get another shooting partner and someone to enjoy archery and bowhunting with, but it also helps you work through your archery frustrations prior to bow season.

TIP: You inherently have to break archery down into individual components when bringing someone green into the bowhunting fold. Doing so will not only help the newcomer, but it will also help you get back to those basics and take stock of the necessary things we all take for granted with archery.

WHAT HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL CAN TEACH YOU ABOUT ARCHERY

There is a disconnect between every other organized sport and shooting a bow. In those organized sports, training is broken down into individual elements. It would be unheard of for a football team to scrimmage every minute of every practice without working on the fundamentals of the game. However, this is precisely what most of us do for archery. We draw our bow, make some shots, pull the arrows, and repeat. In essence, we are learning how to score arrows on the target, not how to shoot them in the middle and why they go in the middle.

Try breaking archery into the processes necessary to shoot a bow and work on a specific aspect of archery each time you find yourself at the range this summer. In simple terms, if you don’t break archery down into individual components, you’ll have nowhere to go when you miss— no way to get better because you land on, “I missed and have no idea why.”

TIP: Focus on one specific process at a time. Figure out where your weaknesses are and tackle them in training.

PUTTING THE BOW BACK IN BOWHUNTING

I don’t like the word practice—perhaps one of the few things I have in common with the great NBA player, Allen Iverson. To me, shooting my bow is about building confidence in myself and my equipment. You can’t control the weather. You can’t control the rut. The only thing you can 100% control is how prepared you are to execute the perfect shot when the moment comes. No one makes perfect hunting shots every time they are presented an opportunity. The point is to be as prepared as possible to increase your odds of making a perfect shot during bow season.

TIP: Pick up a shot counter from your local sporting goods store and record the number of perfect shots you make in a practice session. Be honest with yourself. When I say a perfect shot, I’m not talking about where the arrow lands, I mean how it got there. More on this later.


IN THE WOODS:

SHOOTING A SIDE HILL

We all know real-life hunting situations do not equal perfect shooting situations. Shooting side hills, where you have uneven footing, affords one of the more technically tricky hunting shots with a bow. Limited hand-torque and keeping your sight bubble level is easier said than done, but keeping your bow level is key to downrange accuracy.

TIP: Make leveling your sight easier when shooting on a side hill by slightly tipping your top cam up the hill while drawing your bow. This allows the top cam to “fall” down the hill, to level, at full draw rather than fighting it “up” the hill to level. How you get the sight level has a significant impact on the amount of torque you are adding to the riser and by letting the top cam fall, you minimize the risk of adding unwanted torque.

SHOOTING OUT OF A BLIND

If you are hunting out a blind, yes, you should practice sitting down while drawing your bow and executing a shot. We all know this. One thing that many bowhunters have overlooked, myself included, is how differently peep sights and pins look in a dark blind. Aligning your peep sight to your scope housing is critical for repeatable accuracy. It is also very easy to misalign your peep in a dark blind during bow season.

TIP: Paint the inside ring of your scope housing white so you can see it in ultra-low light. Nail polish and whiteout both work great here. Just make sure to give the correct one back to your wife.

SHOOTING FROM ELEVATION

Shooting on perfectly level ground is excellent for building proper form, but shooting out of a treestand or from any elevation is an entirely different ballgame. Most hunters have high misses from extreme angles because they have a breakdown in basic form and upper body alignment. Practice bending at the waist rather than bending at the shoulders to maintain proper alignment in your upper body. As Chubbs from Happy Gilmore would say “It’s all in the hips…”

TIP: Bending at the waist also serves to keep your eye-peep-scope housing alignment identical to flat ground. A tiny variation in peep alignment equals massive point of impact differences down range.


AT THE RANGE:

JUST AIM, DON’T SHOOT

Whether you are trying to cure target panic or just can’t seem to hold the pin in the middle long enough, aiming your bow without executing a shot actively works to remedy these problems. I particularly like doing this drill after a day of shooting. Draw the bow, hold the pin in the middle of the target for as long as you can and let your sight picture tell you when you need to let down.

TIP: Repeat this process 5-10 times at the end of a practice session. You’ll be amazed at how difficult it is, at first, and how quickly your stamina and aiming improves leading up to bow season.

ARROW WEIGHT CRAZINESS

A recent trend in bowhunting is to shoot ultra-heavy arrows. To do this effectively, you’ll need to hit the gym—lifting weights so you can draw 90-pounds and shoot arrows that are heavy enough to nearly be classified as rebar. Or so some say… There are more factors to penetration than a heavy arrow. The most important of these, from my testing, is arrow flight. I’ll take a 50-pound bow with a light arrow flying perfectly and delivering all its energy on the tip of the broadhead over a 70-pound bow with a 600-grain arrow flying like a sputtering bottle rocket. Drawing more weight and having a perfectly tuned arrow is ideal, but you don’t have to run out and drop $180 on ultra-heavy arrows to get the penetration you need on most North American game.

TIP: Tuning your bow for perfect arrow flight with broadheads, broadhead design, and shot placement are far more critical, in my opinion, than slapping a heavy arrow and a setup and calling it good.

THE MOST IMPORTANT, MOST OVERLOOKED PIECE OF EQUIPMENT

What’s the most critical part of a bowhunting setup? Is it the bow riser? The broadheads? Making sure your accessories match the color of your fletchings? Kidding. Without a doubt, strings and cables are the most critical and overlooked piece of equipment on a setup. They are the engine that drives the bow. They are also the most fragile and prone to wear. How often you need to change them varies significantly from person to person, depending on how much you shoot, how well maintained they are, how they are built, etc.

TIP: If you can’t remember the last time, if ever, you changed your strings and cables, change them over the summer. This way you’ll have enough time to get your bow shooting at tip top performance rather than changing them mid-bow season.

HOW IT GOT THERE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN WHERE IT WENT

Arguably the most crucial piece of summer practice advice: count “good” arrows by how they got to the target, not where they land on the target. Proper form and executing the same shot, every shot, is the key to consistent accuracy. There are many ways to shoot a bow, but only one right way for you, and that comes down to shooting the same “shot” every time you draw your bow. Figure out what is most repeatable for you and build your form around that. You’ll be ready for bow season before you know it.

Written by Matthew Bray


You can find more hunting and fishing articles by clicking HERE.

Photos courtesy of Realtree

IBEW Member Enjoys Wild West Pronghorn Hunt This Week On Brotherhood Outdoors

July 18, 2018 in General, Hunting, Press Release

IBEW Member

Julian Smith, an IBEW member of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, enjoys a thrilling Wyoming pronghorn hunt when he appears in an upcoming episode of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s (USA) Brotherhood Outdoors television series airing this week on Sportsman Channel.

A U.S. Army veteran and member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 405, Smith was selected to appear on the show due to his union work ethic and commitment to the service of his country and community.

Smith is an active member of the Cedar Rapids Grants and Programs Citizens Committee, as well as the local Veterans of Foreign Wars. “These are great avenues for lending a hand and connecting with the community and other veterans,” he explains.

When not on the job, volunteering or spending time with family, Smith savors time spent outdoors, fishing or hunting. During his Wild West pronghorn adventure, he quickly develops an appreciation for the fleet-footed pronghorn’s ability to elude predators—as well as a love for the breathtaking scenery of the open country it calls home.

Catch all the exciting action when the episode featuring IBEW member, Julian Smith, airs this week, including Tuesday, July 17 at 4 p.m. Eastern, Wednesday at 11:30 a.m., Saturday at 1:30 a.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m. Eastern.

Award-winning Brotherhood Outdoors is currently in its 10th season of whisking hardworking union members away on action-packed hunting and fishing adventures. Produced by creative powerhouse Rusted Rooster Media, the series puts the spotlight on union members who are as passionate about the outdoors as they are on keeping this country running. Each episode takes viewers to the homes, communities and jobsites of these tireless American workers for an inspirational glimpse at their backstories before heading onto the water or into the field.

The 2018 Brotherhood Outdoors season also features union members in pursuit of New Mexico elk, Mexican permit and bonefish, Saskatchewan waterfowl and black bears, Louisiana redfish and trophy whitetails in Illinois, Kentucky and Ohio. Along the way, the show also offers snapshots of the USA’s community-based conservation, public access, outreach and mentorship efforts, which are executed by an all-volunteer union labor force.

For a complete listing of upcoming episodes, CLICK HERE.

To watch episodes online, visit www.myoutdoortv.com.

Presented by Bank of Labor, Brotherhood Outdoors is also sponsored by the following unions, contractors and corporate partners: Buck Knives, Burris, Carhartt, Flambeau, Steiner, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, National Electrical Contractors Association, and United Association/International Training Fund’s Veterans in Piping Program.

11 Activities to Get Your Family Outside for Great Outdoors Month

June 13, 2018 in Articles, General

Great Outdoors Month

Summer is one of the best times to escape the indoors and connect with nature, and June just so happens to be Great Outdoors Month! We’ve compiled a list of various outdoor activities that you can enjoy with your family and friends, not only for Great Outdoors Month, but all summer long– so get ready for some summertime adventures!

11 Great Outdoors Month Activities:

Water SportsGreat Outdoors Month

Water sports are a great way to get outside and cool off on a hot summer day. Whether you have a small pond to yourself or want to go to the great big blue, there are multiple ways to get on the water. You can take it easy and canoe or kayak, or hop on a jet ski or tube and feel the adrenaline rush of flying over the water and waves. Fishing boats are another great way to get on the water, even if you turn it down a notch and just want to relax on the waves.


Great Outdoors MonthBiking

Biking is a family friendly activity that everyone can participate in. It’s also a great workout to keep you in shape for the upcoming hunting season—talk about an added bonus! There are multiple trails around the United States that also feature multiple terrains. Some will be paved and some will consist of dirt. Whichever you prefer to ride on, grab your bikes, round up your family and try viewing nature from two wheels for Great Outdoors Month!


PCamping Great Outdoors Month

Camping is an amazing way to get in tune with your true outdoors side. Our great country features some pretty incredible State and National Parks, and almost all of them offer some sort of camping. You’ll find places deep in the park that are compact and only have enough room to feature a tent, but you’ll also find campsites that are big enough for you to pull your fifth wheel camper into and set up a full campsite for a great trip with your family.

Pro tip! If you’re on a road trip, make sure to pack your tent! This will make for virtually endless car camping locations!


Great Outdoors MonthConservation

Caring about the well-being of America’s fish, wildlife and the lands and waters that support us all is something everyone who loves the great outdoors has in common. Participating in conservation efforts is one of our favorite Great Outdoors Month activities because it encourages us to escape the indoors and help preserve what we all love the most, the outdoors. There are many ways to volunteer for conservation. For example, you can clean up trash throughout a park, trail, beach or other body of water. A simpler example is to pick up any fishing line you find when you’re at your favorite fishing spot and recycle it at a nearby line recycling center, and if there isn’t one near you can always just put it in the trash can.

You can even work with the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) to complete a conservation project with your union local. Our conservation program, brings together union members willing to volunteer their time and expertise to conservation projects that improve and enhance public access, wildlife habitat and outdoor experiences for communities across America. USA’s Work Boots on the Ground program works closely with federal, state and local agencies and other conservation groups to provide manpower needed to complete critical projects that may otherwise go undone.


Campfires Great Outdoors Month

Campfires are always an easy go to for anyone who wants to sit outside with their family and friends on a nice summer night. They can also get you to adventure into the wilderness to collect the wood you need for your fire and the sticks for everyone to cook their marshmallows later that night for a great snack. However it is always important to know the fire regulations in your area. Also make sure to build your campfire in a well ventilated area and to keep it enclosed so it doesn’t spread.


Great Outdoors MonthFishing

Fishing is an all time favorite outdoor sport for all of us at USA, during Great Outdoors Month AND the entire summer! There are so many species to fish for—it’s truly impossible to get bored! You can catch anything from river cats to giant bass and bluegill. Some State and National Parks are having free fishing days as well that can be found here.

If you’re at the beach on vacation and want to get out and see what the ocean has to challenge you with, just head to a pier and rent a pole. If you’re really dedicated you can always hire a guide to help you try to catch sharks, stingray, and other species you may not be used to in your neck of the woods.


Hiking
Great Outdoors Month

Hiking is a very calm and relaxing outdoor activity that many enjoy, and your location choices are nearly endless—if you have enough space you can even go for a family hike on your own property! Many State and National Parks also have hiking trails already ready for you to go adventure on, and you could also take your own route of a trail and go deep into the wilderness, just make sure you don’t get lost! And always make sure to clean up the trails you venture onto to keep our great parks preserved and pristine.


Great Outdoors MonthHorseback Riding

Now you’re usually either a horse person—or you’re not. For those of us that love horseback riding, you never go back. If you have your own horses and enough land to really get out and ride, then you already have a great option to go get outside and enjoy the wilderness. If you want to load up the horses and head somewhere new, there are many parks that allow horseback riding. Some beaches even have designated horseback riding areas if you ever wanted to know the feeling of riding a horse down the beach with the sounds of the ocean in the background and waves at your side.

No horses? No problem! There are tons of places across the country that offer affordable horseback riding lessons and trail rides for the whole family. All you have to do is put in a little time to research your best options.


Hunting PreparationGreat Outdoors Month

Hunting preparation is a must for anyone who wants to have a great season next fall, but it’s also a great way to get outside and do something that can be fun and also productive. Head to your go to spot and set up your trail cameras to find out what’s spending time in your food plots and at your mineral stations.

When you get home, don’t forget to spend a little more time outside for Great Outdoors Month and shoot your bow. You may need to sight in your bow and make sure that your shot is still as good as it was last season, but hopefully you’ve been shooting routinely all year!


Great Outdoors MonthGeo-Caching

Geo-Caching is an interesting activity where you go outside and find containers that contain random objects that could have been put in the container by anyone. All you need to do to find these containers is download the geo-caching app on your smartphone, use your GPS to find the caches near you, and then share your findings on social media for everyone to see. You can even get your whole family involved in this fun outdoors activity. You never know where geo-caching will take you, so it helps to be up for anything!


Off-Roading Great Outdoors Month

Off-roading can be a great way to spend time with friends and family, and a good adrenaline rush for anyone who loves the outdoors. Anything from dirt bikes, ATVs, and even trucks can be used for this fun outdoors activity. Some parks even have trails for these vehicles and can be rented sometimes. If you have enough space in your own backyard you can even make your own trail. Just make sure you wear your helmet and are following any regulations listed for the area you’re enjoying this activity in.


 

7 Foolproof Father’s Day Gifts for Outdoorsmen

June 5, 2018 in Articles, General

Father's Day Gifts

Still searching for the perfect Father’s Day gift for that dad who just can’t get enough of the outdoors? Whether he enjoys fishing, hunting, or just relaxing in the great outdoors, we’ve got you covered! Checkout our list below of seven foolproof Father’s Day Gifts for any dad who loves the outdoors.

7 Foolproof Father’s Day Gifts for Outdoorsmen:

FLAMBEAU T4 PRO MULTILOADER – $56.97 Father's Day Gifts

Flambeau’s T4 Pro Multiloader Tackle Box is the perfect size to suit all of your storage needs. Featuring a front load or top load system, you can access your gear quickly. The Multiloader comes with four line dispensing ports, six compartments and a sturdy handle, conveniently providing you with everything you need all in one place.


Father's Day GiftsCARHARTT FLAG PATCH CAP – $29.99

Help dad show his USA Pride in style with the Carhartt Flag Patch Cap. The adjustable cap features a Carhartt Force sweatband and moisture-wicking fast dry technology, helping keep dad cool in the summer heat.


BUCK KNIVES 363 RIVAL SS KNIFE – $22.50Father's Day Gifts

Gift dad with the smallest edition of the Rival family, the 363 Rival SS Buck Knife. Compact, but powerful, the drop point blade on this knife has a tumbled finish, making it even more corrosion resistant. Featuring Buck’s advanced Edge2x blade technology, this made in the USA knife is unbelievably sharp right out of the box. Give your dad the gift of having a lightweight, EDC Buck Knife he can throw on his keychain, lanyard or even in his pocket.


Father's Day GiftsOTTERBOX VENTURE 25 COOLER – $209.99

Head outside for the day with Otterbox’s Venture 25 Cooler. This product has a 25-quart capacity, anti-slip rubber feet, a bottle opener and tough latches. Most importantly, Dad will never have to worry about his favorite drinks going warm with its ability to keep drinks cold for 10 days, making it ideal for all his outdoor adventures. If you want to make this gift extra special for your outdoors dad, order it in tan/Realtree camo/orange!


MILWAUKEE TOOL M12 FUEL 2-TOOL COMBO KIT – $229.00Father's Day Gifts

Upgrade your dad’s tool kit with the best of the best Milwaukee Tool M12 Fuel 2-Tool Combo Kit. This Combo Kit is the most capable and compact 12-Volt Hammer Drill Driver and Impact Driver Combo Kit on the market. Included is the M12 FUEL Hammer Drill Driver, the lightest weight and most compact 12-Volt Hammer Drill Driver. Also included is the M12 FUEL Hex Impact, featuring the best in class driving speed, power, and size. What more could he want for Father’s Day?


Father's Day GiftsSUREFIRE TITAN ULTRA-COMPACT DUAL-OUTPUT LED KEYCHAIN LIGHT – $69.99

Surefire’s Titan LED Keychain light is just what every dad’s keyring needs. Featuring a high-performance LED, stainless steel keyring, and rechargeable battery (charger sold separately). This product is conveniently lightweight and indestructible, allowing it to be carried anywhere.


COSTA SALTBREAK SUNGLASSES – $169.00+Father's Day Gifts

Every dad needs a cool pair of shades to hit the water with, and Costa has you covered with their Saltbreak Sunglasses, featuring seven different lens color options to help you choose the best color for your needs. Adorned with scratch-proof lenses, a lightweight design, and excellent glass clarity, this product is the perfect accessory for all your outdoor activities just in time for summer.