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Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Honors Glen Kirkham as United Association Conservation Steward of the Year

January 29, 2020 in Conservation News, Press Release

Glen Kirkham (left) receives the UA Conservation Steward of the Year Award from UA Local 68 Business Agent Rick Lord.

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) has honored United Association (UA) Local 68 member Glen Kirkham with the UA Conservation Steward of the Year Award for his 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.

Kirkham, of Rockport, Texas, earned the stewardship award for his exemplary leadership on a project to restore hurricane-damaged facilities at a popular state park on Texas’ Aransas Bay.

“Glen was essential to the completion of a project at Goose Island State Park in Rockport, which was hit hard by Hurricane Harvey in 2017,” said USA Conservation Manager Robert Stroede. “The storm damaged much of the park, including the plumbing system that provided water to 44 waterfront campsites that are used by park goers.”

Kirkham was a driving force behind repairs to hurricane-damaged facilities at Goose Island State Park.

The park is a popular recreational destination for campers, anglers, boaters and birdwatchers, and has recorded up to 190,000 visitors per year.

Late in 2018, Kirkham led a group of 39 volunteers from the UA and several other unions in the first phase of the project, which restored potable water to half of the waterfront sites. In early February of 2019, the project’s second phase completed repairs to the remainder of the sites. In all, union volunteers donated 235 hours of labor worth more than $12,300 to the restoration.

“Glen’s leadership on this project means that Goose Island State Park visitors can once again enjoy access to fresh water at these popular facilities along the park’s scenic waterfront,” added Stroede.

Rick Lord, Plumbers Local 68 Business Agent, presented Kirkham’s Conservation Steward of the Year Award on Jan. 26 during the 2020 AFL-CIO COPE Convention in Austin, Texas.

“Being recognized for what we accomplished at Goose Island State Park is a real honor,” said Kirkham. “But it was definitely a team effort. We had volunteers representing a lot of different trades on the project, ranging in age from their early 20s to 60-plus. Special thanks goes to one of our signatory contractors, Peninsula Plumbing and Handyman Services, for bringing in all the trucks and tools we needed to do the job.”

A real sense of camaraderie developed during the restoration, he continued. “I think the older volunteers, especially, were very proud of the way the younger ones stepped right into it. When you’ve been union for a long time, and believe in our way of life, it makes you feel good when the next generation jumps in and keeps it going. The fact that Goose Island State Park is pretty much in our backyard makes giving back to the community that much more special.”

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.