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Union Volunteers Take Minnesota Kids Ice Fishing

January 19, 2020 in Fishing, General, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

Volunteer Mike Rodger (center) of Cement Masons Local 633 showed a pair of young participants the finer points of ice fishing tactics.

Dire predictions of an apocalyptic blizzard didn’t stop more than 75 young anglers from celebrating winter with local labor union volunteers at the Minneapolis Area Take Kids Ice Fishing Day on Chisago Lake Saturday, January 18.

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.

As it turned out, the area received only 2 to 4 inches of snow—a mere “dusting” by Minnesota standards–coupled with mild morning temperatures that made for excellent fishing conditions.

Over 25 union volunteers and B.A.S.S. High School Fishing members provided participants with hands-on ice fishing instruction and assistance. Much to their delight, the budding anglers each received a free Pure Fishing ice fishing rod and reel, game calls from Plano Synergy and other goodies. As a bonus from local unions and other supporters, more than $3,000 in door prizes were given away as well.

Elevator Constructors Local 9 member Dave Morin (left) greeted guests with free fishing tackle.

“We had a great turnout and the event went really well,” said local volunteer project leader Dave Morin, a member of IUEC Local 9. “It’s awesome to see all these kids getting out to experience ice fishing, some for the first time. I’m thankful to our sponsors, the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance and all the volunteers who pitched in to make this possible.”

Participants came from across the Twin Cities and around the region. Tony Wilking made the 70-mile drive from St. Cloud so his 6-year-old son Jack could enjoy the festivities. “We’re grateful for everyone who put this event together,” said Wilking, a retired U.S. Army veteran. “Activities like ice fishing are so much better for kids than sitting inside playing video games.”

Participants Tony Wilking (left) and son Jack were all smiles waiting for a fish to take the bait.

“This is a really cool idea,” added David Brandner, of Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota, who brought his son Mason to the event. “You’re getting kids involved in the outdoors, which is wonderful. Plus, how many people can say they took their kid fishing and got a free fishing pole?”

Volunteer Jarrod Asleson, a member of Cement Masons (OPCMIA) Local 633, said donating time to take kids fishing was a labor of love. “My wife is an AFSCME union member and we’re both happy to be out here doing something positive for our community,” he said. “This is our second time volunteering at a Union Sportsmen’s Alliance youth ice fishing event and we’re already looking forward to next year!”

The Chisago Lake Take Kids Ice Fishing Day was organized through the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground conservation program, which is supported by USA national conservation partners Bass Pro Shops, Plano Synergy, Provost Umphrey Law Firm, Pure Fishing, Remington Arms and the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation.

The event was sponsored by IUEC Local 9 and the Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund, with support from: IBEW Local 110, Operating Engineers Local 49, OPCMIA Local 633, Pipefitters Local 539, UA Plumbers Local 15, Roofers Local 96 and the Minneapolis and Saint Paul Building and Construction Trades councils. Additional corporate partners included Clam Outdoors, Joe’s Sporting Goods, Maynard’s Tackle, Northland Fishing Tackle and Today’s Tackle.

Chisago Lake was a hub of activity as more than 75 youth and their families turned out for the USA’s Take Kids Ice Fishing Day.

“Thanks to Dave Morin and his diehard crew of volunteers from various unions and the local community, the event was a great success,” said USA Conservation Manager Robert Stroede. “Participants were treated to a fun morning of ice fishing in heated shelters with everything they needed to experience the fun of ice fishing and hopefully get hooked on the sport.”

The Minneapolis-area event was the latest in series of free, community-based Take Kids Fishing Day activities held through Work Boots on the Ground, which organizes union volunteers to complete conservation, public access, education, youth outreach and adult mentorship projects that would otherwise go undone.

Launched in 2010, the program has completed 230 projects in 31 states. The value of volunteer labor donated through WBG is fast approaching $1.5 million, while outreach events have engaged nearly 13,000 participants, including more than 6,000 in 2019.

Participants David Brandner and son Mason savored a chance to get out on the ice together.

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Names Vance Ayres IUEC Conservation Steward of the Year

November 7, 2019 in Articles, Conservation News, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

Volunteers celebrate the completion of the restored Jones Point Park fishing pier.

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) has honored International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC) Director of Governmental Affairs Vance Ayres with the 2019 IUEC 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 mission to unite the union community through conservation to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage.

Ayres, of King George, Virginia, is a longtime USA supporter, project volunteer, and has been instrumental in fundraising efforts in the USA’s Capital Area market.

The resulting funds have fueled the completion of multiple projects including the USA’s 100th Work Boots on the Ground project at Jones Point Park in Alexandria, Virginia. That effort saw more than 100 union volunteers, including Ayres, donate nearly 900 hours of skilled labor to restore a 60-year-old public fishing pier on the Potomac River.

Capital Area projects also include the improvement of recreational shooting opportunities at Prince George’s County Trap and Skeet Center in Glenn Dale, Maryland. Union volunteers donated more than 445 hours to build three covered, fully-accessible shooting stations available to community residents and other guests using the range.

Vance Ayres (right) with AFL-CIO President and USA Board of Directors Chair Richard Trumka.

“Vance Ayres has been a fantastic leader for the USA and our conservation efforts for many years,” said USA Conservation Manager Robert Stroede. “It is impossible to convey the value of someone like Vance. Without dedicated volunteers like him we wouldn’t have nearly as great an impact on the future of conservation as we do today.”

Ayres grew up in an outdoors-oriented family who nurtured a love of hunting and fishing, and the desire to preserve and protect the nation’s natural resources. In addition to his hands-on volunteer work for the USA, he helped organize the USA’s first sporting clays shoot at Prince George’s County Trap and Skeet Center in 2009. He also helped coordinate the 2nd Capital Area Conservation Fundraising Dinner.

“I am honored and humbled to receive this award from the USA,” said Vance. “It’s a great organization that does great things for communities and conservation, in which the building trades and the labor movement have always played huge roles.

“Volunteering is one of the most important things all of us can do to make our lives better and to protect our communities,” he continued. “It has had a profound impact on my way of thinking and a positive impact on the future of my family and friends. I urge others in the labor movement to get involved to help the many great things in our world like the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance!”

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.

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 To watch episodes online, visit

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.

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.