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Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Honors Greg West as 2019 OPCMIA Conservation Steward of the Year

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

OPCMIA International General President Daniel Stepano (L) and USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance (R) presented Greg West with the OPCMIA Conservation Steward of the Year Award.

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) has honored Greg West of the Operative Plasterers’ and Cement Masons’ International Association (OPCMIA) with the 2019 OPCMIA 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.

West, of Dayton, Ohio, serves as Local 132 business manager. He was instrumental in completing an extensive USA Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) conservation project that transformed a dilapidated eyesore into a popular city park enjoyed by local families, disabled veterans and other city residents. 

“When the once-popular Lakeside amusement park in West Dayton closed after being bypassed by a freeway project, the area around the lake suffered years of neglect, fell into disrepair and became a place you wouldn’t want to hang out,” said USA Director of Union Relations Walt Ingram.

In the renovation’s first stage, a coalition including the city of Dayton, USA, Ohio AFL-CIO, a number of union locals and neighborhood civic groups rallied more than 100 volunteers to remove trash and underbrush from around the lake. 

Funded in part by $25,000 raised through the USA’s Ohio State Conservation Dinner, the second stage involved installing a floating, handicap-accessible fishing pier, walkways, park benches, lighting and more.

“After the clean-up, Greg and the OPCMIA stepped up and placed concrete supports for the floating pier and park benches,” Ingram explained. “Greg’s leadership and the Cement Masons’ involvement also encouraged other trades to get involved.”

Along with OPCMIA Local 132, the Dayton MV Regional Labor Council, AFSCME Council 8, IBEW Local 82, Laborers’ Local 1410, Iron Workers Local 290, IUPAT Local 249, USW Local 5541, UA Local 189 and the Dayton Newspaper Guild were involved with the Lakeside Lake project.

“I am honored to be part of something that turned an eyesore into a beautiful area that can be used by the community,” said West. “It was awesome working side by side with my brothers from the other trades, and I especially want to thank my brothers and sisters from Local 132 who volunteered their time and skills to give back to the community.

“The Conservation Steward award is a great honor, and I want to acknowledge my local and my international for their support on this project,” he added. “We couldn’t have done it without their strong backing.”

USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance and OPCMIA International General President Daniel Stepano presented West’s award August 15 at the OPCMIA 52nd International Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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.

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.

Union Volunteers Introduce Dayton Area Youth to Fishing

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

From morning to early afternoon of Saturday, May 4, more than 120 young anglers and their families lined the bank of Lakeside Lake near Dayton, Ohio, to experience fishing firsthand during the free Dayton Area Take Kids Fishing Day.

A team effort by the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA), Ohio AFL-CIO, Ohio Division of Wildlife and Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the event was aimed at introducing the next generation of anglers and conservationists to the joys of fishing.

The Dayton-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 120 young anglers experienced fishing firsthand Saturday during the free Dayton Area Take Kids Fishing Day.

Each of the young anglers received a free fishing rod and reel courtesy of Pure Fishing. They also received game calls courtesy of Plano Synergy, a partner in the event, and T-shirts courtesy of local union sponsors. Union volunteers rigged up the rods and provided participants with fishing instruction and assistance. To cap off the day, youth enjoyed a free picnic lunch with their union mentors.

Ohio AFL-CIO Field Director Jeanette Mauk noted that union members are quick to give back to their communities, and—along with teaching kids to fish—events such as this help the general public learn more about their union neighbors and organized labor.

“People unfamiliar with labor unions have a chance to connect with our members and see how willing they are to donate their time, funds and talents to their communities,” she said.

USA Conservation Manager Rob Stroede explained that outdoor-related activities such as fishing create participatory pathways for young people to experience nature and help kindle a lifelong interest in environmental conservation.

“Take Kids Fishing Day events educate a future generation of American anglers and conservationists from diverse communities and backgrounds,” said Stroede. “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 participants.”

The event comes on the heels of efforts by the USA and Ohio AFL-CIO, along with other organizations and partners, to improve public access and amenities at the lake. The improvements included a massive cleanup and installation of a new fishing pier, completed in October 2017.

Both Mauk and Stroede were involved in that project, and Stroede added that it is nice to see how the efforts of union members pay off with events like this.

“It’s really kind of the whole mission of what we do,” he said. “After completing an infrastructure project that improves the access or facilities at a location, we follow up with an event that showcases the new opportunities available to community members thanks to the efforts of union volunteers, the USA and our many conservation allies.”

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.”