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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.”

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.”

USA Honors Brent Beasley and Mark Conroy as Roofers and Waterproofers Conservation Stewards of the Year

October 26, 2018 in Conservation News, General, Press Release

Brent Beasley (center) was one of two recipients of 2018 Roofers Conservation Steward of the Year Awards. Beasley accepted the award from United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers International President Kinsey Robinson (left) and USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance (right).

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) honored Brent Beasley and Mark Conroy with 2018 United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers (RWAW) Conservation Steward of the Year Awards for their exemplary commitment to conservation and community service.

The awards recognize 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.

Beasley, of Orange, California, serves as business manager of RWAW Local 220, president of the union’s Western Regional District Council and RWAW International 9th vice president. He is a tireless, longtime supporter of USA conservation projects and events.

“Brent has been an integral volunteer on the USA team since our organization’s inception,” said USA Director of Special Events Heather Tazelaar. “For example, he was essential in finding nearly 100 volunteers for our 2014 Bolsa Chica Wetlands restoration project that brought local families and skilled tradespersons together to restore a one-mile stretch of trail.

“The USA has never executed a project or fundraising event in southern California without Brent’s assistance,” Tazelaar continued. “He has also donated his time to communities far from his home. For example, he has volunteered for the USA’s annual Get Youth Outdoors Day outreach event in Minnesota since 2012.”

“I am humbled and honored to receive an award from such a distinguished conservation organization as the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance,” Beasley said.

Mark Conroy (center) accepted the 2018 Roofers Conservation Steward of the Year Awards from United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers International President Kinsey Robinson (left) and USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance (right).

Conroy, of Clearwater, Minnesota, is likewise a longtime proponent of the USA’s mission. Business manager of RWAW Local 96, he has been involved in USA conservation efforts across the board—most recently lending a hand at the USA’s 8th Annual Roofers Twin Cities Sporting Clays Shoot, where he handled local market facilitation, promoted the event within the trades, recruited volunteers and oversaw the funding for Local 96 donations.

“Mark Conroy has served as USA’s main liaison on the USA’s Roofers & Waterproofers Twin Cities Sporting Clays Shoot and our Minnesota Get Youth Outdoors Day event since 2017,” said Tazelaar. “He engages local unions in our events and personally volunteers his time to assist. Although Mark was newly elected as business manager of Local 96, he continued to support and engage the community to help build what now holds the record as USA’s largest shooting event.”

“We were very honored and surprised to receive this award,” said Conroy, who was quick to highlight the many benefits of volunteering for USA’s conservation efforts.

“Promoting the events is extremely easy when everyone believes in their cause,” he said. “To see projects completed in our local communities and introduce young people to outdoor activities is definitely a bonus. Seeing the youths return to these events year after year—and their smiles as they participate—is priceless. To watch these events expand is a testament to our belief in the mission of the USA.”

USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance presented Conroy and Beasley with the awards on Monday, Oct. 8, 2018 at the 29th International Convention of the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers & Allied Workers.

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 Sportsmen’s Alliance Recognizes Madison’s Dave Branson as UA Conservation Steward of the Year

September 24, 2018 in Conservation News, General, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

Dave Branson (center) accepted the 2018 UA Conservation Steward of the Year Award from (left) USA Conservation Manager Rob Stroede and Events Manager Kevin Grubbs.

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) honored Dave Branson, executive director of the Building Trades Council of South Central Wisconsin (BTC), with the 2018 United Association (UA) 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 in the preservation of North America’s outdoor heritage.

Branson, a member of UA Local 434 from Madison, Wisconsin, has been involved in union construction trades for nearly four decades. He is a longtime supporter of USA youth outreach, conservation and fundraising efforts.

“Dave is a tireless leader who volunteers countless hours each year to support his community and the future of our outdoor traditions,” said USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance. “His commitment, dedication and willingness to freely give his time and talents underscores why volunteers are our most valuable resource in achieving the USA’s mission.

“For example, Dave organizes our Take Kids Fishing Day events in Madison and Janesville, Wisconsin, which last June alone introduced more than 250 local youths to natural resources conservation and the joys of fishing,” Vance continued. “He is also a driving force behind the USA’s annual AFL-CIO, BTC Madison Area Conservation Dinner, which to date has raised more than $325,000 for conservation. 

“Dave has also spearheaded a number of conservation projects, including the recent renovation of the Vilas Park Fishing Pier on Madison’s Lake Wingra, rallying more than 50 local union volunteers to transform a structure that was literally falling apart into a safe, accessible platform that provides community members of all physical abilities with improved access to this popular fishing lake.”

Dave Branson

USA Conservation Manager Rob Stroede and Events Manager Kevin Grubbs presented Branson with the award on Friday, Sept. 14, 2018 at the Madison Area Conservation Dinner.

“It’s very gratifying to receive this award,” Branson said. “But I couldn’t have done it without all of the union volunteers from the Building Trades and AFL-CIO who stepped up to make these projects and outreach events come to fruition.”

Branson explained that volunteering offers many benefits. 

“It’s rewarding to teach children about fishing, then see the smiles on their faces as they reel in their first fish,” he said. “Fundraising dinners build relationships between members of different AFL-CIO unions, while raising money to complete projects in our community. Plus, holding outreach events and completing beneficial projects improves relationships between unions and the public, by reminding people that union members are friends and neighbors who enjoy giving back to our hometowns.”

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 Sportsmen’s Alliance Holds Get Youth Outdoors Day

September 19, 2018 in Conservation News, General, Press Release

More than 60 youths learned about conservation and hunting while experiencing the thrill of the shooting sports firsthand Sunday, Sept. 16 during the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) 7th Annual Get Youth Outdoors Day at Wild Marsh Sporting Clays in Clear Lake, Minnesota.

Organized by the USA and supported by a coalition of union, industry and conservation partners, the event educated boys and girls ages 9 to 17 about wildlife conservation, dog training and other outdoor topics through hands-on activities and demonstrations. 

Local organizer Mike Ganz welcomed participants with a talk on wildlife and conservation.

The event was also part of the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s (NSSF) First Shots program, which introduces first-time shooters to firearms respect, safety and the shooting sports. NSSF recently awarded the USA a $30,000 grant to host a series of events in which union volunteers trained in firearms safety and instruction provide hands-on introductions to trap shooting, riflery and archery.

Young shooters learned the basics of safe and responsible riflery on the .22 range.

“The success of this event showcases the great potential for harnessing union members’ love of the outdoors and spirit of volunteerism to help NSSF promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports by increasing participation through First Shots and other programs,” said NSSF Director of Shooting Range Services Zach Snow.”

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

To cap off the free event, attendees were treated to gift bags and a picnic-style lunch.

The event was part of Work Boots on the Ground—the USA’s flagship conservation program—and sponsored by partners including Roofers International, NSSF, Savage Arms, Roofers Local 96, BAC Local 1, Central MN BCTC and other local union groups. Sixteen volunteers donated 84 hours to make the day a success. The NSSF grant and funds raised at the annual Roofers Twin Cities Sporting Clays Shoot allowed the event to be held at no cost to participants.

“These kids are the future of conservation and our outdoor heritage,” said Roofers International President Kinsey Robinson, who attended the event and personally coached dozens of youth shooters on the sporting clays range. “Plus, events like this foster relationships among union members from all AFL-CIO unions, and between unions and their communities.”

Roofers International President Kinsey Robinson advises a fledgling sporting clays enthusiast on gun handling and aiming.

“These types of hands-on, interactive youth events are critical to the future of hunting and recreational shooting,” said USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance, who was also on hand mentoring shooters on the firing line. “This event in particular is a shining example of the great things that happen when unions and groups like the USA and NSSF join forces to assist American union workers in sharing their passion for the outdoors with the next generation of hunters and recreational shooters.”

“The USA and its union, industry and conservation allies support a variety of youth mentorship programs and outreach events across the nation,” Vance noted. “We are proud to provide opportunities for young people and their families to experience the fun and rewards of recreational shooting, hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities.”



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.

Nichols Park Restoration Receives USA 2017 Conservation Project of the Year Award

August 2, 2018 in Conservation News, General, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

Nichols Park Restoration

Oklahoma AFL-CIO President Jim Curry and Communications Director Debra Wojtek accepted the 2017 Conservation Project of the Year Award from USA CEO & Executive Director Scott Vance (L) and Director of Conservation Forrest Parker (R) on behalf of the many union partners involved in the Nichols Park restoration.

Union volunteers’ restoration of historic Nichols Park in Henryetta, Oklahoma, as a community gathering place in the great outdoors has garnered the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) 2017 Conservation Project of the Year Award.

Including follow-up work in 2018, more than 100 union workers from 23 union locals donated over 2,475 hours of skilled labor valued at nearly $91,000 and raised in excess of $13,000 for materials to complete a variety of critical improvements to the popular park.

Among the upgrades, volunteers replaced a pavilion roof, improved lighting, replaced picnic tables, cleared overgrown areas and replaced a dilapidated fishing dock with an ADA-compliant floating pier. Union volunteers also built and installed a new flagpole at the park entrance and constructed new camp-style barbecue grills.

Part of the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) conservation program, the Nichols Park restoration project was a team effort by the USA, the Oklahoma AFL-CIO and Oklahoma State Building and Construction Trades Council (BCTC).

“This project is a picture-perfect representation of what drives the USA’s mission and how the union community eagerly embraces the opportunity to unite for conservation and community service,” said USA Director of Conservation and Community Outreach Forrest Parker, who announced the award July 24 at the USA’s annual Conservation Gala in Washington, D.C. “Union volunteers completely transformed an aging, poorly maintained city park into a place where the community can once again come together to enjoy the outdoors.”

Nichols Park Restoration

Union volunteers donated more than $100,000 in labor and materials to restore Nichols Park as a community gathering place in the outdoors.

Henryetta Mayor Jennifer Clason hailed the project and declared a special “Union Day” in its honor. “Restoring this historic park, which was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1941, was fabulous for our city,” she said. “What union volunteers did would have taken months for city crews to even begin to accomplish. The fishing dock would have been years out, if even on the radar due to the dilapidated infrastructure our city faces.

“We will be forever thankful to the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance for making this project happen without cost to our city,” Clason added. “It was truly amazing to see our park transformed from a work in progress to a dream getaway.”

Volunteers from the following unions and groups donated their time and skills to the Nichols Park restoration project: Oklahoma State AFL-CIO; Oklahoma BCTC; OPEIU Local 381; IAHFI Locals 94 and 64; TWU Local 514; UA Locals 344 and 430; IBEW Locals 584, 1002, 1141; NALC Local 442; GMP Local 48; SMART Locals 124 and 270; IUOE Local 627; BAC Local 5; IAMAW Local 850; Professional Fire Fighters of Oklahoma; LIUNA Local 107; USW; Roofers Local 143; and the city of Henryetta.

“It feels good being part of something that benefits your community,” said Oklahoma BCTC Executive Director Jimmy Fish. “I’m proudest of the new pier, which gives people a place to fish in the local area. It was very rewarding to see all the kids come down here and catch fish on it during the dedication celebration.”

Nichols Park Restoration

Among the many improvements to the park, union volunteers replaced a dilapidated fishing dock with an ADA-compliant floating pier.

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance & Union Veterans Council Collaborate To Service Union Veterans

July 3, 2018 in General, Press Release

Union Veterans

The USA’s Capital Area shoot celebrated the newly announced collaboration between the USA and UVC, along with the event’s 10th anniversary where more than 250 participants raised over $125,000 for conservation over the course of two days.

The Union Veterans Council (UVC), AFL-CIO and the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA), an affiliate organization of the AFL-CIO, recently committed to working together to support each organization’s mission and have identified a liaison who will help keep the partnership running at peak efficiency.

The announcement was made during the USA’s Capital Area Sporting Clays Shoot at Prince George’s County Trap and Skeet Center in Glenn Dale, Maryland.

“The UVC is proud to have forged a working partnership with the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance that will allow the two organizations to support each other’s mission by connecting our memberships with two very important parts of the labor community, Veterans and Conservation/Sportsmen,” said William Attig, UVC Executive Director. “Sam Phipps, who is both a veteran and a strong union member, has stepped up to become our volunteer Liaison.”

The volunteer liaison position will allow each organization to expand capacity, to engage members and build a strategy to connect our union veterans with the outdoors.

“The USA reaches a lot of union members annually through our shoot tour and conservation dinners,” said Scott Vance, USA CEO & Executive Director. “We are taking steps to engage our veterans and say thanks for their service. Working with UVC, we’ll be able to reach out to a lot more of the veterans and give them a chance to come and fellowship with their brothers and sisters across the United States.”

Phipps is a UA member of local 562 in Saint Louis, Missouri, and is a combat infantry veteran and an avid outdoorsman. Upon returning home from his military service he entered the UA’s Veterans in Piping program and now works as a heating & air technician.

His unwavering support for his fellow veterans has driven him to work with his local to support programs that give veterans an opportunity to enjoy and use the outdoors as a way to better transition back to civilian life and build comradery on the home front. That is why the UVC is pleased to announce that Phipps will be the first Union Veterans Council-Union Sportsmen’s Alliance liaison.

Within this roll, Phipps will work to forge a working partnership with the USA in a variety of ways. “I am eager to take on this role with the Union Veterans Council and look forward to connecting with my fellow veterans through conservation and the outdoors,” said Phipps.

Photos courtesy of Pepper Ailor at Freedom Alliance


Union Sportsmen’s Alliance, National Wild Turkey Federation Join Forces For Conservation

June 26, 2018 in Conservation News, Press Release


(L-R) USA Director of Conservation and Community Outreach Forrest Parker and NWTF VP of Conservation Ross Melinchuk signed the agreement pledging the organizations’ cooperation on conservation and the protection of North America’s outdoor heritage.

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) and National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) signed a historic Memorandum of Understanding pledging cooperation on a variety of efforts benefiting conservation and the preservation of North America’s outdoor heritage.

Finalized June 26, 2018 at the 85th Annual Midwest Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies Directors’ Meeting in Bismarck, North Dakota, the agreement outlines strategies to collaborate on campaigns targeting wildlife habitat protection and enhancement, public access, mentorship, outreach and education.

“This partnership is a perfect example of how two very different organizations can unite to influence the future of conservation while increasing mission delivery for both,” said Forrest Parker, USA director of conservation and community outreach.

“We are blessed with highly skilled union volunteers, who each year donate thousands of hours to conservation projects and outreach events across the nation,” he continued. “Our friends at NWTF are also doing amazing things in communities around the country. We are honored to help increase the impact of these efforts, while showcasing the dedication and unwavering commitment of the American union worker.”

The two groups are already joining forces in Michigan, where USA volunteers from the United Auto Workers’ (UAW) Ford Michigan Ramp Team are building NWTF Turkey Tract Kiosks for placement on game management areas around the state. The kiosks, created as part of the USA’s flagship conservation program—Work Boots on the Ground (WBG)—promote public access to quality turkey hunting, educate the public on the benefits of habitat management and conservation, and help build a connection between hunters and the local community.“

We are excited about formalizing our partnership with USA through this MOU and look forward to accomplishing great things together across the landscape via conservation delivery and in support of our hunting heritage,” said Brian Zielinski, senior director of conservation operations for NWTF’s Eastern Region.

Zielinski added, “This is a unique opportunity to combine resources as both organizations have a dedicated base of members and volunteers who are passionate about leaving a legacy and ensuring that both conservation and hunting traditions remain intact for future generations.”

The USA-NWTF alliance comes on the heels of similar agreements between the USA and other conservation partners including fishing industry powerhouse Pure Fishing and upland conservation champion Pheasants Forever. The USA also recently forged partnerships 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.

“We are excited to see where these partnerships lead,” said Parker. “Thanks to the dedication of our skilled union volunteers, the USA is uniquely positioned to be a ‘power’ partner for our allies. There is no doubt that a decade from now, these American union workers will be recognized as a driving force for conservation, who played a profound role in preserving our outdoor heritage.”

Union Led Wolftever Creek Project Enhances TN Fishing And Boating Access

May 11, 2018 in General, Work Boots On The Ground

Spanning more than 36,000 acres, Tennessee’s Lake Chickamauga is a popular destination for anglers and other watersports enthusiasts from within the state and around the country.

Fishing is a prime draw. The scenic reservoir is consistently ranked among the nation’s top bass fisheries and currently holds the Tennessee state records for both largemouth and spotted bass. Recreational boating, waterskiing, kayaking, swimming and camping also attract thousands of visitors each year. Unfortunately, funds to maintain and enhance public access to this crown jewel of the Tennessee River system are chronically tight.

To help remedy the situation, the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) and a dedicated team of union volunteers stepped up to complete a major overhaul of one of Chickamauga’s busiest access points, the Wolftever Creek Boat Ramp adjacent to Harrison Bay State Park just outside of Chattanooga.

The renovation expanded year-round public access by replacing an existing dilapidated dock with a brand-new, 104-foot-long, handicap-accessible floating pier.

Before Photos:

Union volunteers donated approximately 300 hours of labor to demolish the old dock April 7, install the new pier April 21 and align the structure on April 28. Volunteers also replaced damaged and unsafe floor boards and the top rail of a fishing pier adjacent to the boat launch.

The final phase of the project, set for completion by the end of May, includes the installation of an additional handrail on the pier abutment and transition plates between dock sections. In the meantime, the pier is open for use.

The project was part of USA’s Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) program, which brings together union members willing to volunteer their time and talents to conservation projects that improve and enhance public access to the outdoors, conserve wildlife habitat, restore America’s parks and mentor youth in the outdoors. The WBG program works closely with federal, state and local agencies and other conservation groups to complete critical projects that may otherwise go undone.

The Wolftever Creek project was conducted without the use of state game and fish funds. Materials were purchased with $10,000 raised by United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 42 and $22,000 in federal marine fuel tax revenues from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA). All union labor was donated.

The project originated when UAW Local 42 expressed interest in taking on a community-based conservation project, and USA research revealed strong public support for improvements to the Wolftever Creek ramp.

Demolition & Renovation Photos:

“Unions are always looking for ways to get involved and improve their communities,” said UAW Local 42 President Steve Cochran. “The Wolftever Creek boat ramp was one of the most heavily used access points to the lake, but it was really unsafe and unusable in the winter due to low water levels. Replacing the boat ramp is a project that UAW Local 42 really wanted to get involved in to benefit the public and demonstrate that we care about our community.”

Along with UAW Local 42, participating union members also represent the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 175, Ironworkers (IW) Local 704 and Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) Local 5.

“The Wolftever Creek 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,” said USA Conservation Manager Robert Stroede. “This dock benefits thousands of fishermen and other recreational boaters who use the Wolftever Creek boat ramp. It not only improves the aesthetic value of this location but provides improved and safer access to all who utilize it.”

TWRA officials were grateful for USA and union volunteers’ assistance in making the Wolftever Creek ramp renovation a reality faster than limited state budgets and manpower could have allowed.

“The donations and hard work of the Union Sportsmen allowed us to accomplish this project more quickly,” said Capt. Matt Clarey, who oversees boat access areas and ramps for TWRA Region III. “We’re pleased to work alongside such great citizens. This partnership will benefit Tennesseans for years to come.”

UAW Local 42 Vice President David Gleeson noted the added benefits of having union members from different trades join forces in pursuit of common goals such as conservation and community service.

“Volunteer projects like the one at Wolftever Creek build comradery and enable members of various union trades to discuss issues,” he said. “We had ironworkers, sheet metal workers and auto workers. But at the worksite, we were all just workers. Nobody had a big head. We just helped one another out with what needed to be done.”

After Photos:

USA And Pheasants Forever Complete First Collective Conservation Project

April 30, 2018 in Press Release

Forever Fields

“Forever Fields” Observation Platform Helps Public Enjoy Wildlife

A team effort by the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA), Pheasants Forever (PF) and local union volunteers created a new viewing platform and observation deck on PF’s “Forever Fields” property in Knox County, Illinois, that will help visitors enjoy and better understand wildlife that relies on grassland and wetland ecosystems.

“This new structure will increase public awareness about conservation and educate visitors about a variety of wildlife species and their habitat needs,” said local Pheasants Forever biologist Scott James. “It will also provide users a higher quality experience for observing nature. Visitors can listen for singing birds and croaking frogs, watch wildlife, observe prairie grasses swaying in the wind, and overlook the peaceful landscape.”

The USA and Pheasants Forever signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in March 2017 allowing the two organizations to team up on conservation and habitat projects, mentored hunts, volunteer training and education. The first joint project to be completed since the MOU was signed, the new tower includes an ADA-compliant, handicap-accessible ramp, 4-foot-high wildlife viewing deck, and stairway leading to an observation platform that rises 11 feet above the surrounding landscape.

“The property is open to the public and we encourage everyone to visit,” James added. “We also plan to accommodate schools, groups of people with disabilities, scout groups, and other community organizations, specifically by hosting events on and next to this new platform.”

PF began construction of the project and purchased the materials with funding support from the USA. The USA brought together volunteers from the United Brotherhood of Carpenters (UBC) Local 237 and International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 649, who were instrumental in helping complete the project in time to qualify for Illinois Clean Energy grant funding. Union volunteers donated 16 hours of labor while building a stairway to the observation deck and railing along the deck.

“It’s a blessing to share our God-given skills and time with our community,” said Matt Bender, a carpenter and business representative with UBC Local 237 who took the lead to recruit volunteers and complete the project. “This is a beautiful area. We’re glad to be part of making it accessible for everyone to enjoy.”

James said his organization is thankful for such support. “The time volunteers spent on this project is greatly appreciated,” he said. “The support from USA allows the construction expertise of its union members to supplement the biological and conservation expertise of Pheasants Forever so that higher-quality projects can be achieved. Pheasants Forever is very grateful for the support of USA and union volunteers on this project, and we are excited to work together on future projects. This partnership can only strengthen conservation and our hunting heritage.”

“The Forever Fields project is a great example of how partnerships, like the one formed between the USA and Pheasants Forever, result in more on-the-ground impact for conservation while opening up new opportunities for unions to improve their communities,” said Forrest Parker, USA director of conservation and community outreach. “We are grateful for our partnership with Pheasants Forever and for the members of Carpenters Local 237 and Operating Engineers Local 649, who volunteered their time and skills to complete this first joint project.”

USA Family Outdoors Day Celebrates Ron Schneider Boat Ramp at Minnie Ha Ha Park

April 30, 2018 in Missouri, Press Release

Ron Schneider Boat Ramp

More than 250 people gathered on Saturday, April 28 at Minnie Ha Ha Park in Sunset Hills, Missouri, for Family Outdoors Day, hosted by the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) and Missouri American Water.

The community event included fishing, lunch, live music by the Greg Haney Group and kid’s activities, and the first 150 youth received a fishing rod and reel, courtesy of Pure Fishing.

A ribbon cutting ceremony at 1 p.m. marked the official opening of the park’s new, non-motorized Ron Schneider Boat Ramp constructed by union volunteers from Missouri American Water and Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) Local 335, through the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground program.

The Ron Schneider Boat Ramp was funded through a $35,000 grant from the American Water Charitable Foundation to improve access to water-based recreation activities. It was named to honor a long-time UWUA Local 335 member who led the first ramp rebuild.

“City parks play a vital role in providing large populations with access to the great outdoors, yet tight budgets can make it difficult to maintain park infrastructure,” said USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance. “American Water and our skilled union volunteers worked hand in hand to complete the new boat ramp despite weather-related setbacks. The project and Family Outdoors Day are a testament to their commitment to improving their community.”

The Ron Schneider Boat Ramp was completed for the second time on August 13, 2017. In early 2017, union volunteers donated approximately 250 hours to tear out and replace the original ramp, which was built in the 1940s and in poor condition. Less than a week after it was completed in May of 2017, catastrophic flooding damaged 90 percent of new structure beyond repair. Undeterred, project leaders devised a new design to stand up to flood waters from the Meramec River.

“The American Water Charitable Foundation and the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance have really done something great for the community of Sunset Hills with this boat ramp,” said Cheryl Norton, president of Missouri American Water. “I am so proud of the work of Missouri American Water’s employees in helping to get this new boat ramp built – not just once, but twice. Having the flood wash away the first boat ramp was disappointing, but to see the way all the groups came together to persevere and rebuild really shows our collective commitment to this project and this community.”

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Celebrates Milestone Conservation Achievements

April 12, 2018 in General, Press Release


Franklin, Tenn. — In 2017, the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) eclipsed every mission-delivery and fundraising record ever set in the history of the conservation organization.

Throughout the year, the USA’s staff of 18 dedicated professionals joined forces with union volunteers to complete 27 conservation infrastructure projects in 15 states through its Work Boots on the Ground conservation initiative. These projects provided a value of more than $240,000 in skilled labor and a total project value of nearly $500,000.

“This past year has been nothing short of amazing for the USA, and we owe it all to our dedicated members, skilled union workers and extremely hard working staff,” said USA CEO & Executive Director Scott Vance. “We celebrated numerous organizational milestones, including our 10-year anniversary, but we also set records in the areas that are most important for a nonprofit— we put a ton of resources on the ground and saw our mission delivery work truly make a difference.”

The USA was created in 2007 with a mission to unite the union community through conservation to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage. Over the past 11 years, the organization has rapidly put that mission and powerful workforce into action.

With volunteers that both raise funds to improve access to the outdoors, conserve natural resources and pass on our outdoor heritage and put their union trade skills to work on the ground, the dollars raised become substantially more impactful. This unique skill set and the ability to access millions of skilled union workers across the nation makes the USA’s potential impact unmatched in this arena.

“The USA is in a unique position in that our volunteers are skilled workers who can take a pile of materials and turn them into something meaningful for other hunters and anglers,” said USA’s Director of Conservation and Community Outreach Forrest Parker. “This year we had 646 volunteers who provided 7,445 hours of volunteer service— 5,400 of which were skilled work hours.”

One USA milestone came to fruition in November when the organization finished its 100th Work Boots on the Ground project. Volunteers from the Washington DC area spent six weekends tearing off 60-year-old boards, carrying 200 pound timbers and reconstructing a dilapidated fishing pier at the National Park Service’s Jones Point Park in Alexandria, Virginia. The value of this project alone was worth more than $100,000 of skilled labor, materials and volunteer time that the National Park Service did not have available until they teamed up with the USA.

In addition to growth in its mission delivery, the USA took on several strategic partnerships in 2017 that will allow the organization to be even more impactful in 2018. The USA’s new partners include Realtree, Worldwide Trophy Adventures, Pure Fishing, Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever, OUTTECH and Milwaukee Tool. Even though the USA experienced a record breaking year of fundraising and mission delivery, it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.

“The USA is in a strategic growth period,” said Vance. “We will remain a lean organization in regard to staff size, but we are executing a plan to significantly grow our mission delivery efforts. Fueling our hardworking union members’ efforts through partnerships with like-minded conservation powerhouses allows us to focus on, and increase, the great work that’s being done every day by union men and women across the United States.”

USA Hosts Get Youth Outdoors Day in Pine Bluff, AR

October 29, 2017 in Conservation News, Press Release

Nearly 200 youth, plus guardians, participated in a day filled with outdoor activities at the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s (USA) Get Youth Outdoors Day at Martin Luther King, Jr. Park Pond in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, on October 21.

The USA’s Get Youth Outdoors Day engaged both youth and adults in hands-on activities including learning how to fish and shooting archery and air guns. Volunteers from USA, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and Arkansas AFL-CIO provided fishing instruction and conservation education. Participants also enjoyed lunch provided by Arkansas AFL-CIO, and youth received free fishing gear courtesy of Pure Fishing.

“Get Youth Outdoors Day is a great example of the efforts needed to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage through hands-on events that instill a love for the outdoors in today’s youth,” said Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Family and Community Fishing Program Coordinator Maurice Jackson. “We are proud to say we played a part in introducing so many kids to those opportunities.”

“The USA seeks to promote our outdoor heritage through mentoring the next generation of sportsmen and women,” said USA Conservation Manager Robert Stroede. “This event provided the perfect opportunity to interact with youth in the community who may not have otherwise had the opportunity to experience all that the outdoors have to offer.”

According to a recent survey conducted by U.S. Fish and Wildlife, released in September, the U.S. has experienced a net loss of 2 million hunters in just the last five years. Since 1980, hunter numbers have fallen from nearly 18 million to the current estimate of 11.5 million. Youth are growing more and more disconnected from the outdoors, America is losing wildlife habitat at an alarming rate, and access to quality outdoor experiences are becoming more difficult to find. Reconnecting youth with the outdoors is critical to preserving our heritage.