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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.

Youth Fishing Event Celebrates Dedication of Suncoast Youth Conservation Center Pier

November 3, 2019 in Conservation News, General, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

Hundreds of local youth and their families gathered Saturday, Nov. 2, to celebrate the dedication of a new boardwalk and fishing pier at the Suncoast Youth Conservation Center (SYCC) in Apollo Beach, Florida.

The wheelchair-accessible pier gives thousands of youth and other local residents visiting the SYCC campus an opportunity to study coastal marine habitats and learn to fish with minimal impact to the environment.

The massive structure is the result of a multi-year community service project organized by the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) through its Work Boots on the Ground conservation program.

A consortium of partners supported the effort, including the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida, Southern States Millwright Regional Council, Florida Gulf Coast Building Trades Council, Florida AFL-CIO, The Saunders Foundation, Frank E. Duckwall Foundation, Ben Hur Construction, Pure Fishing, TECO Energy, The Community Foundation of Tampa Bay, Bass Pro Shops and a number of local labor unions.

All young participants received a free Shakespeare rod, reel and tackle kit courtesy of Pure Fishing.

Donations in funds, volunteer union labor, materials and other construction expenses from these partners 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.

The effort is the USA’s largest to date and marks the organization’s 200th Work Boots on the Ground project completion.

More than 500 youth signed up to participate in a free Take Kids Fishing Day event built into the day’s festivities. Volunteers from local labor unions, the FWC and members of the National Football League Players Association assisted the excited young anglers, each of whom received a free Shakespeare rod, reel and tackle kit courtesy of Pure Fishing, plus additional items including game calls from Plano Synergy. Prior to the dedication ceremony, a free picnic lunch was provided to all participants.

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’re humbled by the generosity of our amazing partners and the highly skilled union workers who donated their time and talent to build this new wheelchair-accessible boardwalk and fishing pier,” said FYCCN director Rae Waddell. “Their dedication to FYCCN’s mission of creating the next generation of conservationists is an inspiration. Seeing these youth and families enjoying themselves here today—fishing, learning and watching wildlife—is the perfect way to celebrate the completion of a project that will benefit this community for years to come.”

Members of the NFL Players Association including pro Charles Riggins (left) volunteered their time to share their love of fishing with local youth.

Volunteers from the following unions and groups donated their time and job skills to complete the project: Florida Gulf Coast Building Trades Council, IBEW Local 915, Insulators Local 67, Iron Workers Locals 7, 397 and 808, IUOE Local 487, LiUNA Locals 310, 517 and 1652, Machinists Local 1000, Roofers Local 123, UA Locals 123 and 915, UBC Locals 1, 283, 1000, 1809, 1905 and 4070, Ben Hur Construction and U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor’s office.

Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida President and CEO Andrew Walker shared Waddell’s enthusiasm about the new pier helping engage the next generation of conservationists. “Providing children and teens with high-quality outdoor recreation and education is increasingly important,” said Walker. “A project like this, that so many people helped make possible, is sure to inspire many others who work in youth education.”

Wayne Jennings, executive secretary treasurer of the Southern States Millwright Regional Council, said the Millwrights were proud to be part of such a broad-based project. “It was a pleasure for the SSMRC to be part of such a diverse group,” said Jennings. “Seeing everyone partnering together to accomplish this build was extraordinary. We truly had a multitude of different craft, contractors and volunteers all working harmoniously to deliver a project that will benefit the public for decades to come. It is a true sign of solidarity. I personally thank everyone involved.”

Ben Hur Construction’s Jason Brown echoed Jennings sentiments “Ben Hur would like to thank the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance, FWC, as well as all the other partners and sponsors for giving us the opportunity to be part of such a great project for the community.”

“This project presented a number of challenges and obstacles,” said Florida State Building and Construction Trades Council President Theresa King. “I’m grateful for everyone’s persistence in pushing it through, particularly the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance for its determination to make the new pier a reality for the community.”

“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.”

“This is the dream team project,” added Connie Parker, a member of the USA Conservation Advisory Committee and Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida Board of Directors. “A consortium of partners came together to give the children of Florida this wonderful pier. We want to roll this out in all 50 states because we know if you put a fishing rod in a child’s hand, he or she will return to the water their entire life.”

USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance said the project epitomizes the organization’s mission to unite the union community through conservation to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage.

Smiles were contagious and the fish were biting at the free youth fishing event, which included the outdoor-themed antics and fishing assistance of “Camo the Clown.”

“Our 200th Work Boots on the Ground project is a shining example of the great things that happen when hard-working union volunteers join forces to benefit their local communities,” he said. “Our projects are changing lives, changing the way the public looks at unions and changing the way union members see themselves. The beautiful new Suncoast Pier, which will provide more than 10,000 area youth a year with access to the Gulf of Mexico, is a testament to these volunteers’ willingness to donate their time and talents to give back to their communities.”

Vance was also quick to credit the support of project partners. “This is a union-led, private-public partnership that involves multiple non-profits, labor unions, union volunteers, a state agency, state wildlife foundation and numerous industry partners. We are thankful for everyone’s commitment to see this project through to completion.”

During the dedication ceremony, Vance announced the USA has received a Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund Grant totalling $25,000 to support the organization’s Get Youth Outdoors outreach events. Already, the USA Conservation department is working to apply a portion of the funds to a Take Kids Ice Fishing Day event in Minnesota next January. Five additional events will be sponsored by the grant.

The USA’s free, community-based youth outreach activities are also supported by national conservation partners Plano Synergy, Provost Umphrey Law Firm, Pure Fishing and the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation.

The USA also recognized a pair of volunteers with service awards. Dan Skuta received the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) Conservation Steward of the Year Award, while Wayne Jennings of the Southern States Millwright Regional Council was honored with the USA’s Non-Charter Union Volunteer of the Year Award.

More than 500 youngsters, their families and volunteers gathered to celebrate the new boardwalk and fishing pier.

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance and Kentucky American Water Host Lexington Youth Fishing Day

October 24, 2019 in Conservation News, Fishing, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

Nearly 200 kids packed Jacobson Park in Lexington, Kentucky, on Oct. 19 for fishing and family fun during a Take Kids Fishing Day event hosted by the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA), Kentucky American Water and the American Water Charitable Foundation.

“The turnout was fantastic,” said Kentucky American Water External Affairs Specialist Ellen Williams. “And the kids had a wonderful time fishing on the reservoir.”

Each participant received a rod and reel courtesy of the American Water Charitable Foundation and Pure Fishing, as well as a set of game calls from Plano Synergy. Youth were coached in fishing techniques by a crew of volunteers, including members of Service Employees Local 320 in Louisville. Afterward, the children and their families were treated to a picnic-style lunch.

“We’re always excited to get people, especially children, into the outdoors,” said Williams. “It’s our hope that kids exposed to nature at a young age will grow to appreciate water as a valuable natural resource, and want to take care of it throughout their lives.”

Nearly 200 youth enjoyed the Lexington event and went home with a free rod and reel.

The event was one of a series of free community outreach activities across the country that are run through the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground conservation program, and made possible through strong partnerships with organizations like the American Water Charitable Foundation, according to USA Conservation Manager Rob Stroede.

“The American Water Charitable Foundation and USA have collaborated on a number of conservation projects, including the construction of the handicap-accessible fishing pier the children used at Jacobson Park,” he said. “And we’re very proud that the Foundation recently decided to renew and strengthen our partnership by pledging a three-year, $300,000 grant that will be utilized to further conduct outreach activities such as the Take Kids Fishing Day in Lexington, as well as support USA’s Work Boots on the Ground program on infrastructure projects in American Water service areas.”

“Our partnership with the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance is an important component of our efforts to give back and make a difference in the communities served by American Water,” said Carrie Williams, president of the American Water Charitable Foundation. “The Take Kids Fishing Day at Jacobson Park is a wonderful example of our partnership. Several years ago, USA union members and Kentucky American Water employees volunteered their time and skills to build the pier and today, our community outreach event is an opportunity to revisit this beautiful park and further enhance the outdoor experience for our customers, our employees and their families.”

The USA’s free, community-based youth outreach activities are also supported by national conservation partners Plano Synergy, Provost Umphrey Law Firm, Pure Fishing and the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation.

About American Water
With a history dating back to 1886, American Water is the largest and most geographically diverse U.S. publicly traded water and wastewater utility company. The company employs more than 7,100 dedicated professionals who provide regulated and market-based drinking water, wastewater and other related services to more than 14 million people in 46 states. American Water provides safe, clean, affordable and reliable water services to our customers to make sure we keep their lives flowing. For more information, visit amwater.com and follow American Water on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

About the American Water Charitable Foundation
Established in 2010 with a founding contribution from American Water, the American Water Charitable Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides a formal way to demonstrate the company’s ongoing commitment to being a good neighbor, citizen, and contributor to the communities where American Water and its employees live, work and operate. The Foundation helps support American Water employee-identified nonprofit endeavors. More information can be found online at amwater.com/corporate-responsibility.

About Kentucky American Water
Kentucky American Water, a subsidiary of American Water (NYSE: AWK), is the largest investor-owned water utility in the state, providing high-quality and reliable water and/or wastewater services to more than half a million people.

Camo the Clown entertained participants with his outdoor-oriented routines.

Sheriff’s Youth Fishing Rodeo Showcases Pier Built by Union Volunteers

October 15, 2019 in General

The laughter and enthusiastic chatter of more than 200 children enjoying a day at the lake was music to the ears of labor union member Kevin Cruso.

Business manager of United Association (UA) Local 568 and a diehard member of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA), Cruso spearheaded construction of a brand-new, fully accessible public fishing pier at the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office’s County Farm near Gulfport, Mississippi.

On Saturday, Oct. 12, the new pier was a hub of activity for hundreds of local youth and their families during the sheriff’s office’s 2019 Youth Fishing Rodeo.

“The event went great and everybody loved the new pier,” said Cruso, of Biloxi.

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.

More than 200 youngsters eagerly wet a line during the 2019 Harrison County Sheriff’s Office 2019 Youth Fishing Rodeo.

Earlier this year, union volunteers united by the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground program (WBG) installed the user-friendly structure, along with a concrete sidewalk and lakeside fish-cleaning station complete with running water and electricity.

Volunteers from UA 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 the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF). Harrison County provided $5,000 to cover the cost of a dock extension at the request of the sheriff’s office.

Cruso said organizers were inspired to build the pier after seeing physically challenged park visitors watch 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. He noted that the pier was a great addition to the annual youth fishing event, but will also benefit local residents of all ages and physical abilities year-round.

Built by union volunteers, the new pier was popular with Youth Fishing Rodeo participants and will benefit community members year-round for decades to come.

The Youth Fishing Rodeo was organized by the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office with help from a number of partners, including the USA through its Work Boots on the Ground program, which in turn is supported by USA national conservation partners Plano Synergy, Provost Umphrey Law Firm, Pure Fishing and the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation.

Prior to the event, the pier was dedicated to Harrison County Patrolman Earl Phillips, who was killed in the line of duty February 19, 1973.

“We’re very thankful for the union volunteers and other partners who made the new fishing pier possible,” said USA Conservation Coordinator Cody Campbell. “This pier will benefit Harrison County residents for decades to come, and having it dedicated to Patrolman Phillips was an honor to the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance and everyone involved in the project.”

Ohio IBEW Member Enjoys Epic Fly Fishing Adventure on Brotherhood Outdoors TV Series

October 11, 2019 in Brotherhood Outdoors TV, Fishing, Press Release

IBEW member Paul Hughes (left) enjoys the saltwater trip of a lifetime on Brotherhood Outdoors.

Electrician Paul Hughes travels to Mexico on a once-in-a-lifetime fly fishing trip for monster permit and bonefish on an episode of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) Brotherhood Outdoors TV series airing the week of October 14 on the Sportsman Channel.

A member of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 683 hailing from Columbus, Ohio, he joins USA Conservation and Communications Director Forrest Parker on a fantastic journey to one of the world’s premier fly fishing destinations, Ascension Bay off Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula.

Hughes, a self-taught fly fisher with years of experience pursuing sportfish of all types across the 48 states, faces daunting challenges on the crystal waters of the bay’s lagoons and wind-swept flats.

“Ascension Bay is not an easy place to fish,” explained Parker. “It’s quite demanding, in fact. Constant winds test casting skills, and hours of standing on a rolling boat deck tax both your physical stamina and mental focus. But stepping out of your comfort zone is big part of what makes a great adventure so great.”

A hardworking electrician with a hectic schedule, Hughes finds peace, quiet and a chance to re-center himself when wielding a fly rod on a remote stream. So, when the Brotherhood Outdoors television crew visits his hometown, it’s no surprise their first stop is at his local fly shop—the spot that sparked his fly fishing passion years ago.

They also visit the headquarters of his union local, which has strong ties to the USA and its conservation efforts, where they speak with a few of his IBEW brothers about the union spirit and outdoor lifestyle.

USA Conservation and Communications Director Forrest Parker (left) joins Hughes’ adventure.

Join Hughes’ grand saltwater expedition for elusive permit and bonefish, and get a glimpse into his real life at home, when his episode airs on the Sportsman Channel Tuesday Oct. 15 at 4 p.m. Eastern. Or, catch one of the re-airs on Wednesday at 11:30 a.m., Saturday at 1:30 a.m. or Sunday, Oct. 20 at 11 a.m.

Produced by Rusted Rooster Media, Brotherhood Outdoors invites hardworking and deserving union members on fishing or hunting adventures of a lifetime. Throughout the season, viewers tag along with guests in pursuit of waterfowl and whitetails in Saskatchewan, South Dakota ringnecks, bull redfish in Louisiana, and more.

For a complete listing of all 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, 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 Sportsmen’s Alliance Honors Jim Hobbie as LiUNA Conservation Steward of the Year

October 8, 2019 in General, Press Release

Jim Hobbie was honored with the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance 2019 LiUNA Conservation Steward of the Year Award.

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) has honored Jim Hobbie of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) Local 773 with the 2019 LiUNA Conservation Steward of the Year Award. 

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.

Hobbie, of Benton, Illinois, has been instrumental in efforts to expand public access and recreational opportunities at Rend Lake’s North Marcum Recreation Area (NMRA), a 420-acre public use property managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

“He’s played a major part in leading multiple conservation projects at North Marcum,” said USA Conservation Manager Robert Stroede, “including completion of the new Pollinator Trail.”

The Pollinator Trail project features a 1,200-foot walkway surrounded by five acres of native vegetation that attracts insects, birds and other wildlife. As a bonus to visitors, the trail encircles a rejuvenated pond—complete with four fully-accessible fishing stations—that was dredged and expanded to improve habitat for gamefish and other aquatic species.

The Pollinator Trail project includes a series of fully accessible fishing and wildlife viewing stations.

Hobbie is involved in another ambitious project, currently underway at North Marcum, that will create a state-of-the-art archery complex and mountain bike trail.

Plans call for a half-mile 3-D archery trail with 20-plus shooting lanes, as well as an accessible target range complete with a 10×80-foot shooting shelter, concrete floor, target lanes and permanent covered targets. An elevated shooting platform, with targets, is also being erected on-site. The mountain bike trail will span 12 miles and include a bike maintenance station and directional signage. 

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 joined forces to complete these projects.

“Jim has been a wonderful partner to work with and the key player in bringing these visions to life,” said USACE Natural Resources Specialist Cassie Magsig. “With his help, our partners continue to work toward improving outdoor recreation for everyone.”

“Volunteers from LiUNA and several other trades are working closely with one another to preserve the area’s outdoor heritage by providing greater recreational opportunities for their neighbors,” added Stroede. “A large part of that is due to Jim’s dedication to labor and his strong desire to give back to his community.”

Hobbie was quick to share credit for these successes. “I’m extremely proud and honored by this award,” he said. “I see it as well-deserved recognition of our entire group. If it weren’t for the Local 773 members and the fantastic volunteers from the other trades, none of this could have been done. That also goes for my business manager and executive board who’ve allowed me the time to devote to these projects.” 

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 have donated their time and talents to planning and executing the North Marcum projects.

The North Marcum archery complex includes an elevated shooting platform.

American Income Life Earns Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Lifetime Partner Award

October 7, 2019 in General, Press Release

American Income Life has helped expand the USA mission delivery and provided hands-on assistance at numerous youth outreach events and other functions.

American Income Life Insurance Company’s (AIL) generous support of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) mission to unite the union community to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage has earned the organization’s $250,000 Lifetime Partner Award.

The award recognizes the Waco, Texas, insurance provider—which has a rich tradition of protecting working families since 1951—for contributions surpassing the $250,000 mark.

“American Income Life was honored to receive the USA Lifetime Partner Award,” said AIL CEO Steve Greer. “As a union company, we proudly stand in support of working families and the mission of USA. We believe in the importance of educating, creating and conserving healthy wildlife habitats for future generations to enjoy. Bringing our youth together to experience labor and community joining in solidarity for this important purpose of enjoyment and protection of wildlife is truly incredible.”

American Income Life Insurance Company CEO Steve Greer (center) was presented with the USA’s Lifetime Partner Award by AFL-CIO President and USA Board of Directors Chair Richard Trumka (left) and USA President and CEO Scott Vance.

USA Director of Union Relations Walt Ingram said AIL’s financial support has helped the USA expand its mission delivery and impact coast to coast. He also noted AIL’s hands-on assistance at numerous Get Youth Outdoors outreach events and fundraising efforts.

“Their support through the AIL Labor Advisory Board, representing more than 50 international union leaders, has provided substantial annual financial support for our mission,” Ingram explained. “And the many AIL agents across the country who have volunteered their time to help run community outreach and fundraising events in their communities have been invaluable assets to both the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance and the labor movement.

“The national leadership of AIL has been and remains committed to supporting the USA and our mission to unite the union community through conservation to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage, and we are very pleased to recognize them with this esteemed award,” Ingram added.

American Income Life Insurance Company (AIL): Founded in 1951, AIL is one of the nation’s largest providers of supplemental life insurance to labor unions, credit unions and associations. It covers more than 2 million policyholders and represents more than $130 million in annual insurance product sales. For details, visit www.ailife.com.

Florida Ironworker Chases Louisiana Redfish on Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Brotherhood Outdoors TV Series

October 4, 2019 in Brotherhood Outdoors TV, Fishing, Press Release

Keven Barber of Ironworkers Local 397 enjoys epic saltwater fishing on Brotherhood Outdoors.

Rods bend, drags sing and arms burn when Ironworker Keven Barber goes in search of bull redfish on an episode of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) Brotherhood Outdoors TV series airing the week of October 7 on the Sportsman Channel.

A member of Ironworkers Local 397 hailing from Wesley Chapel, Florida, Barber joins USA Conservation and Communications Director Forrest Parker on an epic saltwater adventure in the Mississippi Delta’s untamed marshes out of Venice, Louisiana.

Casting poppers and plastics, the pair experiences the full measure of the legendary fishery’s ability to produce giant, hard-fighting redfish—each of which pushes the anglers’ endurance to the breaking point. “It seemed like every fish was a new personal best,” Barber recalled.

At trip’s end, the exhausted fishermen enjoy yet another exciting adventure—nighttime bowfishing, where the action is every bit as fast and furious.

A hardworking union member, Barber welcomes physical challenges. He’s also no stranger to a busy schedule. On the home front, his four sons have kept him busy as a scout leader, coach and mentor in the outdoor lifestyle.

The union spirit of giving back to one’s community is also steeped deeply in his soul. Viewers catch a glimpse of this volunteerism when Brotherhood Outdoors joins Barber on-site during a USA Work Boots on the Ground project at the Suncoast Youth Conservation Center (SYCC) in Apollo Beach, Florida.

Hard-fighting redfish challenge Barber’s tackle and endurance.

“Keven is the kind of guy who makes the best out of everything he does,” said Parker. “His intent to do the right thing, always, is inspiring. He goes above and beyond in his community, selflessly giving back on every occasion—from coaching youth sports to tackling the largest conservation project in USA history at the SYCC. He’s become a dear friend, and he’s a tremendous asset to the labor movement.”

Join Barber’s exciting hunt for giant redfish when his episode airs on the Sportsman Channel Tuesday Oct. 8 at 4 p.m. Eastern. Or, catch one of the re-airs on Wednesday at 11:30 a.m., Saturday at 1:30 a.m. or Sunday, Oct. 13 at 11 a.m.

Produced by Rusted Rooster Media, Brotherhood Outdoors invites hardworking and deserving union members on fishing or hunting adventures of a lifetime. Throughout the season, viewers tag along with guests in pursuit of black bears on Vancouver Island, permit and bonefish in Mexico, waterfowl and whitetails in Saskatchewan and more.

For a complete listing of all 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, 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.

Boilermakers Shoot Breaks All-Time USA Fundraising Record

October 2, 2019 in Conservation News, General, Press Release

Even bursts of monsoon rains couldn’t stop more than 200 diehard shooters gathered for the 11th Annual Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) Boilermakers Kansas City Sporting Clays Shoot from setting an all-time fundraising record for the USA Shooting Tour.

Hosted by the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, the shoot was held Sept. 21 at Powder Creek Shooting Park in Lenexa, Kansas. Collectively, participants and sponsors raised more than $215,000 to fuel the USA’s mission to unite the union community through conservation to preserve America’s outdoor heritage.

The total eclipsed the previous USA Shooting Tour record of $203,000 set in 2018, also at the Boilermakers Kansas City shoot. In fact, the Boilermakers shoot has broken the USA’s gross fundraising record every year since 2015.

Funds raised from the shoot support the USA’s conservation mission. “Proceeds from the shooting program are critical to funding the mission of the USA,” explained USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance. “Money raised at USA shoots funds conservation projects, outreach events, member programs and other vital operations of the organization.”

The Boilermakers shoot has broken the USA’s gross fundraising record every year since 2015.

“When you put out a call for the Boilermakers, they step up,” said International Brotherhood of Boilermakers International President Newton B. Jones. “Conservation and a healthy, sustainable environment are essential to our planet’s survival. As a charter member of the USA and a supporter of their mission, we’re proud that the event brought so many Boilermakers, members of other unions and organizations, and families together.”

“Organized Labor’s support for the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance was evidenced by the great turnout at the USA’s annual Kansas City shoot,” said International Brotherhood of Boilermakers International Secretary-Treasurer William T. Creeden. “We’re determined to surpass our record-breaking fundraising amount year over year for an organization that does so much for America’s communities and families but we couldn’t break records without the help of all of our supporters.”

Launched in 2009, the USA shooting program celebrated its 200th fundraising shoot in November of 2018. 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 programs.

The first shots of the USA Shooting Tour were fired at Prince George’s County Trap and Skeet Center in Glenn Dale, Maryland, on June 18, 2009 during the inaugural AFL-CIO Capital Area Sporting Clays Shoot. On October 23rd of that same year, the Boilermakers hosted their first USA shooting event, which has flourished over the years while setting fundraising and participation records in the process.

“As we celebrate the USA’s recent milestones, including the completion of our 200th Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) conservation project, we want to thank the Boilermakers and all of their members for their dedicated support of our cause,” said Vance. “We are grateful for the Boilermakers’ long-standing support as one of our charter unions, and their annual Kansas City shoot is one of our longest running events and continues to break fundraising records.”

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance, Partners Host Chicago Area Family Outdoor Day

October 1, 2019 in Articles, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

More than 100 South Chicago area youth took their first steps in learning how to fish, shoot and hunt during the Family Outdoor Day held Sept. 28 at the William W. Powers State Recreation Area.

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA), in cooperation with New Concept Benefit Group (NCBG), Pheasants Forever, Illinois Conservation Foundation, Illinois Learn to Hunt Program, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Bowfishing Association of Illinois and the National Wild Turkey Federation hosted the event.

Participants experienced a variety of outdoor activities under the experienced supervision from local labor union members and other volunteers. Each youth also received a free rod and reel from NCBG, game calls from Plano Synergy, and enjoyed a picnic lunch with their families and mentors.

“With help from the very dedicated and knowledgeable volunteers on-site, the kids got a chance to go fishing, try bowfishing, shoot trap, learn archery skills and participate in an Illinois Learn to Hunt seminar,” said Doug Aller, NCBG president and driving force behind the Family Outdoor Day. “Our goals for the event were to give children the opportunity to engage with each other and their families, and encourage an interest in conservation and the outdoors as an alternative to smart phones and computer screens.”

Heavy rains the night before diminished during the morning hours, but still forced a slow start to the day, according to Aller. A steady stream of eager youngsters and their families began arriving as the skies cleared, however.

A little damp weather didn’t stop more than 100 participants from enjoying new outdoor activities like fishing.

“Things were a little wet and sloppy,” he said. “But it turned out to be a great day with a lot of kids enjoying fantastic outdoor experiences—some for the first time. I saw one young boy beam a wide smile at his mother when he realized a fish was nibbling the bait on his line. It was clear this was the first time he’d held a fishing rod, and for me, that excited grin made the whole day worthwhile.

“Young people growing up in urban areas don’t have the same opportunity to connect with the outdoors as do kids with rural backgrounds,” added Aller. “We hope this event sparked an interest, and showed the youth and their parents a doorway toward taking the next step.”

“The Family Outdoor Day coordinated by Doug Aller and the NCBG runs parallel to the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground outreach program, and we were proud to be part of it,” said Rob Stroede, USA conservation manager. “It’s becoming increasingly important to hold events like this one in metropolitan areas where young people don’t get as much exposure to the conservation message and outdoor lifestyle.”

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

William W. Powers State Recreation Area encompasses 580 acres of land and water on Wolf Lake in South Chicago, and offers visitors opportunities to fish, hunt, hike, ride trail bikes and more. In early 2020 it will be the site of a new, expansive USA Work Boots on the Ground conservation project that will include the construction of a new fishing pier, kayak launch and other amenities.

USA, UAW Help Improve Access to Flint River

October 1, 2019 in Conservation News, General, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

Throngs of community residents flocked to the new Paddler’s Landing access for the official ribbon-cutting ceremony and release of 100 lake sturgeon.

Anglers and paddle-sports enthusiasts of all ages and physical abilities are enjoying better access to Michigan’s scenic Flint River, thanks in part to a $7,000 donation raised during the inaugural Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) United Auto Workers (UAW) Region 1-D Conservation Dinner.

The funds, along with a matching grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), helped fuel the creation of the new Paddler’s Landing public access in Mott Park Recreation Area in Flint.

The new structure is part of an on-going, large-scale revitalization project driven by the city of Flint, Corridor Alliance Chapter (CAC) of the Flint River Watershed Coalition and other stakeholders to benefit local residents, area businesses and visitors.

Historically, river access here has been difficult. Within the city, water follows a concrete channel that provides no access, while the park’s rocky banks are not easily negotiated. It’s one reason project supporters feel the park, which draws fewer than 5,000 visits per season, is greatly underutilized.

“With the new landing and the future completion of the Riverfront Restoration project in downtown Flint, we expect this number to grow significantly,” said CAC manager Sarah Scheitler.

Indeed, the Flint River offers ample opportunities for watersports activities including canoeing, kayaking and tubing. Plus, the fishery holds largemouth and smallmouth bass, walleyes, northern pike and panfish—in fact, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) website promises anglers that the river holds the state’s best smallmouth fishing.

Paddler’s Landing provides access to a wealth of opportunities for anglers and other watersports enthusiasts to enjoy the Flint River.

A wide concrete stairway, bordered by protective boulder rip-rap, the Paddler’s Landing structure offers safe access to and from the river, even when water levels fluctuate. It includes a wooden-rail watercraft slide, as well as a transfer seat and step system to allow those with limited mobility to safely access the water.

“As part of our official ribbon-cutting ceremony Sept. 21, participants released 100 young lake sturgeon supplied by the DNR,” said Scheitler. “There were dozens of people, young and old, standing on the access during the release. After all the work everyone has done, it was both exciting and gratifying to see how easily and safely people could reach the water’s edge.

“Until the UAW made this connection for us, we had not had a relationship with the USA,” Scheitler noted. “And we were amazed by their ability to raise funds. The group’s $7,000 donation essentially became $14,000 with the matching MEDC grant, which was a bit more than 10 percent of the total project budget. It was a substantial donation with which we were thrilled. And we’re eager to work with the USA again on future projects.”

Though the landing is already in use, one final piece remains to be placed, according to UAW Local 659 community service representative and CAC board member Dale Snyder.

“Under the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground program, our UAW local is proud to be part of this fabulous project,” he said. “As soon as possible, union volunteers have plans to fabricate and install a metal handrail along the downstream side of the stairway.”

Kentucky Auto Worker Pursues High Plains Ringnecks on Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Brotherhood Outdoors TV

September 27, 2019 in Articles, Brotherhood Outdoors TV, Hunting, Press Release

Jeff Braun chases South Dakota ringnecks on an episode of Brotherhood Outdoors TV airing the week of Sept. 30.

Diehard dogman, upland gunner and conservationist Jeff Braun pursues ringnecks across the plains of South Dakota on an episode of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s (USA) Brotherhood Outdoors television series airing the week of September 30 on the Sportsman Channel.

Braun, of Hawesville, Kentucky, heads to Bad River Bucks & Birds Outfitters on the prairie outside Draper with four-legged hunting partners Swale, Lure and Ruffian in tow. The late-season hunt is marked by snow, cold and wild-flushing pheasants as he and USA Public Relations Manager Dan Johnson tramp miles of frozen fields and cattail sloughs.

A member of United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 3044, Braun has been training and field trialing bird dogs for 15 years. It’s a passion that took hold after purchasing his first dog, a 3-year-old shorthair, years ago.

“For Jeff, a hunt’s success isn’t measured by the number of birds put into in the air or onto the ground, but by the experience of working cover with his dogs and seeing their excitement at the scent or sight of a gamebird,” explained Johnson. “His complete devotion to his hunting dogs, in terms of care, commitment and compassion, is amazing. In fact, one of the trip’s high points was watching his 5-month-old pup Ruffian point her first wild ringneck.”

Braun (left) is joined on the hunt by USA Public Relations Manager Dan Johnson.

Brotherhood Outdoors viewers also get a glimpse of the Kentucky Auto Worker in his home environment, upholding the union spirit of giving back to the community.

“He’s a shining example of the countless American labor union workers who volunteer their time and talents,” said Johnson, a proud past UAW member. “Not only is Jeff extremely active in wildlife conservation projects and youth outreach events, he also helped organize his UAW local to improve the job security and working conditions of his coworkers—then served as union secretary and was a member of the first contract negotiation team. It was an honor to get to know Jeff on this trip.”

Join Braun’s quest for Dakota cackle-rockets when his episode airs on the Sportsman Channel Tuesday, Oct. 1 at 4 p.m. Eastern, or re-airs on Wednesday at 11:30 a.m., Saturday at 1:30 a.m. and Sunday, Oct. 5 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. Throughout the season, viewers tag along with guests in pursuit of black bears on Vancouver Island, permit and bonefish in Mexico, waterfowl and whitetails in Saskatchewan and more.

CLICK HERE for a complete listing of all upcoming episodes. 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.

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Welcomes Plano Synergy as National Conservation Partner

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

Plano Synergy, an industry-leading producer of must-have gear for serious hunters and anglers, has joined the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s (USA) mission to unite the union community to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage.

“Our members, staff and supporting partners are proud to welcome Plano Synergy as a National Conservation Partner as we harness union workers’ power, passion and skills to enhance and ensure opportunities for millions of Americans to enjoy the great outdoors for generations to come,” said USA Director of Corporate Partnerships Brian Dowler.

The outdoor manufacturing powerhouse brings together 17 top brands in the outdoor industry, including Barnett Crossbows, Frabill, Plano and Wildgame Innovations. All are dedicated to creating innovative, high-performance products that help users make the most of time spent afield.

“Partnering with the USA to help preserve our hunting and fishing heritage for future generations is a paramount priority and speaks to the core values of all our brands,” said Plano Synergy VP of Marketing Pete Angle. “Like the USA, Plano Synergy strongly pursues habitat conservation and new hunter and angler recruitment efforts.”

As a USA National Conservation Partner, Plano Synergy will directly support Work Boots on the Ground (WBG), the USA’s flagship conservation program, 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 WBG program has touched communities in 31 states. The value of donated volunteer labor topped the $1,000,000 mark in early 2019 and the USA’s youth programs will soon reach the milestone of taking more than 10,000 kids fishing.

“In addition, a dedicated portion of Plano Synergy’s commitment benefits our United Outdoors Conservation Fund—an innovative grant funding program that allows the USA to further expand its conservation footprint and mission impact,” Dowler added.

The Plano Synergy partnership also supports the USA’s popular Brotherhood Outdoors television show, which airs 26 weeks a year on the Sportsman Channel, along with the USA Shooting Tour and USA Conservation Dinner program. As a bonus to USA members, select Plano Synergy products will be available at UnionSportsmenStore.com.

About Plano Synergy: Plano Synergy Holding, Inc. is the leading U.S. manufacturer and marketer of fishing tackle boxes, archery equipment, game cameras, protective cases and other gear for hunters, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts. The company’s market-leading brands include Ameristep Hunting Products, Barnett Outdoors, Evolved Harvest & Habitats, Flextone Game Calls, Frabill, Halo Optics, Plano, Tenzing Outdoors and Wildgame Innovations. For more than a half-century, Plano Synergy brands and products inspire people to engage in outdoor pursuits throughout the world. For more information, visit: www.planosynergy.com.

Union Volunteers Host Ohio Youth Fishing Day

September 23, 2019 in Fishing, General, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

More than 160 young anglers learned about conserving and protecting Ohio’s natural resources while experiencing the thrill of catching fish Sept. 21 during the 2nd Annual Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) Marietta Take Kids Fishing Day. 

Held at scenic Buckeye Park and sponsored by the Ohio AFL-CIO, the 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 Plano Synergy, Provost Umphrey Law Firm, Pure Fishing and the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF).

Nine members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 972 donated 153 hours of their time to plan, organize and put on the special event in which kids from 2 to 15 years old learned how to bait a hook, cast their line and reel in feisty bluegills, bass and catfish.

“It was a perfect day,” said IBEW Local 972 event organizer Nathan Bail. “The weather was warm and sunny, and the kids had a wonderful time catching a lot of fish.”

Smiles and feisty fish were abundant during the free community event.

Each participant received a free rod-and-reel from USA partner Pure Fishing, along with a t-shirt and goody bag courtesy of the USA, Plano Synergy and RBFF. Adding to the fun, the first 25 youth that caught a fish received a $20 Kroger gift card courtesy of J & D Waterproofing. Afterward participants and their families were treated to a picnic-style lunch at the park.

“The USA and IBEW teaming up to host an event like this really brings to light how much local unions and their members care about the future of the community,” said Bail. “That we want kids to have an opportunity to experience things that they might not normally have a chance to enjoy, and instill in them an appreciation for nature and the outdoors.”

While community outreach is a primary goal with Take Kids Fishing Day events across the country, of equal importance is the opportunity to open doors for youngsters to a way of life that cherishes the outdoor heritage, according to USA Conservation Manager Rob Stroede.

“Research has proven 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. “Free events such as this one help promote the importance of education a future generation of American anglers from diverse communities and communities and backgrounds; people who will one day carry the torch in the name of conservation and the outdoor lifestyle.” 

“It’s a blessing to just be a part of what the USA does for conservation and the outdoors,” Bail added. “Hopefully we can continue to work together to make a positive impact on the community of Marietta.”

Funds raised from the USA’s Ohio Conservation Dinner helped fund the event, along with support from a number of local donors. These funds also covered the cost of stocking the pond with 100 catfish and more than 700 bluegills that will continue to provide great fishing opportunities at Buckeye Park in the future.

Special thanks to Coonskin Crossing of Amesville, which donated nearly $300 in live bait for the event and to Boat House BBQ for providing burgers, hot dogs and chips. Additional fishing rod and reel combos from the event were donated to the Boys and Girls Club of Marietta.

Michigan Educator, MEA Member Savors Saskatchewan Dream Hunt on Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Brotherhood Outdoors TV

September 23, 2019 in Brotherhood Outdoors TV, General, Hunting, Press Release

David Potter takes aim at Saskatchewan waterfowl on an upcoming episode of Brotherhood Outdoors television.

Layout blinds pop open, shotgun barrels elevate and waterfowl drop from snowy skies when longtime Warren, Michigan, educator David Potter travels to Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan, on an episode of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s (USA) Brotherhood Outdoors television series airing the week of September 23 on the Sportsman Channel.

Potter, a member of the Michigan Education Association, has taught physical education skills to students in the Royal Oaks School District for 30 years. As the district’s strength coach, he also helps build student athletes who participate in all types of sports. When time permits, he’s also an avid waterfowl hunter.

“I’ve been part of some very good hunts in Michigan,” he said, “but nothing I’ve experienced here can compare to the three days I spent in Saskatchewan with Safari River and Goose Haven Outfitters. We shot greater and lesser Canadas, specklebelly and snow geese in the mornings, and ducks—mostly mallards—in the afternoons.

“While we were in the blinds with our guide, another team of guides would scout the best possible locations for the next day’s hunts, which meant that we’d see thousands of birds on each hunt every day,” he continued. “It was amazing.”

As with every episode of Brotherhood Outdoors, Potter’s episode also explores how this hard-working union member makes a difference on the home front. In Potter’s case, viewers get a firsthand glimpse into the lifelong educator’s tireless efforts to enrich his students’ lives and build their self-confidence.

Along the way, the show also offers snapshots of the USA’s community-based conservation, public access, outreach and mentorship efforts executed by an all-volunteer union labor force.

USA Director of Corporate Partnerships Brian Dowler was Potter’s host during the trip. Through the non-stop action in the fields and surrounded by the comfort of the outfitter’s lodge, the pair became fast friends.

“Because of Brotherhood Outdoors’ unique format, we’re lucky enough to get to meet a new USA member on every show we host,” said Dowler. “And when I met Dave it didn’t take long to confirm that he deserved to be on the show. He’s a great role model for educators; he cares about his students and it was obvious that his family was really important to him. I am fortunate to meet a lot of people, but the USA members we meet for this show always turn into lasting friendships.”

“Hunting and hanging out at the lodge with Brian and the crew was a blast,” said Potter. “The entire trip was more than I could have ever dreamed. It was absolutely incredible.”

Join Potter on the Saskatchewan prairie when his episode airs on the Sportsman Channel Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 4 p.m. Eastern, or re-airs on Wednesday at 11 a.m., Saturday at 1:30 a.m. and Sunday, Sept. 29 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. Throughout the season, viewers can tag along with guests in pursuit of black bears on Vancouver Island, permit and bonefish in Mexico, waterfowl and whitetails in Saskatchewan and more.

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.

Union Volunteers Introduce Minnesota Youth to the Great Outdoors

September 17, 2019 in General, Press Release

Smiles were contagious as labor union volunteers introduced youth to conservation, hunting and the shooting sports Sunday, Sept. 15 during the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) 8th Annual Get Youth Outdoors Day at Wild Marsh Sporting Clays in Clear Lake, Minnesota.

Organized by the USA and supported by a coalition of labor union, industry and conservation partners, the event gave 38 boys and girls ages 9 to 17 a personal introduction to wildlife conservation, dog training, archery, trap shooting, riflery and other outdoor topics through hands-on activities and demonstrations conducted by union volunteers. 

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.

All supplies including eye and hearing protection, firearms and ammunition were provided at no charge. Each youth also received a goody bag containing free Plano Synergy game calls and more. Youth and their families also enjoyed a picnic-style lunch with their mentors.

Roofers International President Kinsey Robinson offered advice on the finer points of shooting form and firearms handling.

The event was part of Work Boots on the Ground—the USA’s flagship conservation program—and sponsored by partners including Roofers International, NSSF, Roofers Local 96, BAC Local 1, Central MN BCTC and other local union groups. Fifteen volunteers from Ironworkers local 512, Roofers Local 96, Roofers International, LELS and IAMAW local 623 donated 90 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 traditions,” said Roofers International President Kinsey Robinson, who attended the event and personally coached dozens of young shooters on the sporting clays range. “Those of us who’ve been blessed to enjoy hunting, fishing and shooting our entire lives owe it to the next generation to give them the same opportunities.

“Plus, events like this build bridges between union workers and their communities, while fostering relationships and solidarity between members of different unions,” he added.

“A lot of kids went home with smiling faces and a much greater appreciation for the outdoors,” said USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance, who was also on hand. “Interactive, hands-on events like this are critical to passing along our outdoor heritage to the next generation. We can’t thank our volunteers, charter unions and other supporters enough for making this outreach possible.”

The Clear Lake event was part of a series of free, community-based youth outreach activities supported by USA national conservation partners Plano Synergy, Provost Umphrey Law Firm, Pure Fishing and the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation.

Ryan Anderson Honored as Union Sportsmen’s Alliance IUPAT Conservation Steward of the Year

September 16, 2019 in Articles, Conservation News, Press Release

IUPAT General President Kenneth Rigmaiden (L) and USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance (R) presented Ryan Anderson with the IUPAT Conservation Steward of the Year Award.

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) has honored International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) District Council 30 Business Manager Ryan Anderson with the 2019 IUPAT Conservation Steward of the Year Award for his exemplary commitment to conservation and youth outreach. 

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

“He is an inspirational leader and a true champion of volunteers,” USA Director of Conservation and Community Outreach Forrest Parker said of Anderson, who hails from Aurora, Illinois. “Ryan’s passion for the outdoors, the future of conservation, and for organized labor drive him to go above and beyond every day.

“He commits a huge amount of time to USA efforts across the board and has played a significant role in the USA’s growth,” Parker continued. “He is always willing to tackle the tough work and never backs down from challenges. His autonomous efforts to introduce youth to the outdoors are amazing and we are lucky to call him a friend.”

Anderson has been involved with a number of the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) conservation program projects, several of which focused on the 750-acre Torstenson Youth Conservation Education Center near Rockford, Illinois. The center offers environmental education programs to organized youth groups as a way to encourage children to become the next generation of conservation stewards.

“We’ve completed several projects at the center, and Ryan has been an instrumental figure in all of them,” said USA Director of Union Relations Walt Ingram. “He’s one of those people who leads by example. If he sees something that needs to be done, he throws his heart and soul into it. Just a great example of a union leader who loves the outdoors, passes on the tradition to his children, and who provides a great value to the members of his union.”

“I am honored and stunned to have received the IUPAT Conservation Steward of the Year Award,” Anderson said when presented the award during the IUPAT 32nd Annual General Convention in Las Vegas, August 12, 2019. “With participation in hunting and fishing declining since the 1980s, I believe it’s important that we do everything possible to preserve our natural and cultural outdoor heritage by supporting educational and outdoor recreational programs for the next generation of hunters, fishermen and conservationists.”

Wisconsin Boilermaker Stalks Saskatchewan Whitetails on Brotherhood Outdoors TV

September 12, 2019 in Articles, Brotherhood Outdoors TV, General, Hunting, Press Release

Boilermaker Kevin Seiler takes aim at northwoods whitetails on an upcoming episode of Brotherhood Outdoors television.

Kevin Seiler of Algoma, Wisconsin, grew up following his grandfather’s and father’s footsteps in his life’s work, and in his family’s love of outdoor pursuits. Both stories poignantly unfold in an episode of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s (USA) Brotherhood Outdoors television airing the week of September 16 on the Sportsman Channel.

Like his father before him, Seiler is a member of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Local 449, and through three generations he, his father and grandfather have cultivated a 75-year shipbuilding heritage in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. That strong family tradition also extends to working the 350-acre family farm his granddad started in 1946, as well as to the many hunting and fishing adventures they enjoyed together.

After traveling by air, road, ATV trail and boat to a remote part of Saskatchewan near the town of Nipawin, Seiler settles into the log-frame trapper’s cabin that will be home and headquarters during his quest for a bruiser whitetail buck on the 100,000-acre hunting concession operated by Big Iron Outfitters.

Surrounded by boreal forest stretching hundreds of miles in every direction and embraced by the snow and bitter cold, Seiler and USA Director of Conservation and Community Outreach Forrest Parker play a white-knuckle waiting game—until the hunter’s buck arrives.

Join Seiler on his once-in-a-lifetime Saskatchewan whitetail hunt Tuesday, September 17 at 4 p.m. Eastern on the Sportsman Channel. Or, catch one of this exciting episode’s re-airings on Wednesday at 11:30 a.m., Saturday at 1:30 a.m. or Sunday, Sept. 22 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.

As season 11 continues, viewers can tag along with guests in pursuit of black bears on Vancouver Island, permit and bonefish in Mexico, 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.

CLICK HERE for a complete listing of all upcoming episodes. 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 Presents Segal Consulting/Segal Marco Advisors With Lifetime Partner Award

September 10, 2019 in Articles, Conservation News, Press Release

Segal’s support of the USA Shooting Tour allows union members and leadership to enjoy recreational and networking opportunities while raising critical funds for conservation.

Segal Consulting/Segal Marco Advisors’ longstanding support of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) mission to unite the union community in the preservation of North America’s outdoor heritage has earned the organization’s $750,000 Lifetime Partner Award.

The award recognizes the trusted New York City-based investment, retirement and pension advisors for contributions surpassing the $750,000 mark. 

“We at Segal Consulting and Segal Marco Advisors are very pleased to be long-time supporters of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance and their work to engage veterans and promote conservation,” said David Brenner, senior vice president and national director of multiemployer consulting for The Segal Group.

Segal Group President and CEO David Blumenstein (center) accepted the $750,000 Lifetime Partner Award from AFL-CIO President and USA Board of Directors Chair Richard Trumka (left) and USA President and CEO Scott Vance.

USA Director of Union Relations Walt Ingram said Segal Consulting/Segal Marco Advisors’ support has helped the USA expand its mission delivery and impact.

“Segal Consulting and Segal Marco Advisors have a rich tradition of supporting the mission of the USA,” he said. “Their annual sponsorship of the USA Shooting Tour trailer helps keep our program rolling across America, providing unique and valuable outdoor recreation and networking opportunities for union members and leaders.

“In addition, they routinely support our shooting events with contributions and participation by contributing their team sponsorship to veterans of military service,” Ingram added. “This patriotic gesture by Segal leadership allows veterans to attend and participate at no charge, and provides them with a day of outdoor recreation and networking with trade union leaders for potential employment opportunities. Knowing we have a Lifetime Partner like Segal has allowed the USA to grow and expand opportunities for our members.” 

Pure Fishing Earns Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Lifetime Partner Award

September 9, 2019 in Conservation News, Fishing, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

Pure Fishing has donated more than 10,000 rod-and-reel combos to the USA’s Take Kids Fishing Day events and other outreach activities.

Pure Fishing’s unwavering support of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s (USA) mission to improve the future of angling and conservation has earned the legendary tackle maker the organization’s prestigious $250,000 Lifetime Partner Award.

The award recognizes the South Carolina-based sportfishing powerhouse—a leading worldwide producer of fishing line, lures, rods and reels—for surpassing the $250,000 donor mark.

Known for iconic brands including Abu Garcia, Berkley, Shakespeare and more, Pure Fishing in 2017 signed a memorandum of understanding with the USA to collaborate on angler recruitment and retention programs that connect union and non-union families to the joys of fishing and spirit of conservation.

Pure Fishing has since donated more than 10,000 rod-and-reel combos to the USA’s Take Kids Fishing Day events and other outreach activities under the umbrella of the organization’s Get Youth Outdoors and Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) programs.

In addition, Pure Fishing donated time and product to a multi-partner undertaking to build a wheelchair-accessible boardwalk and fishing pier at the Suncoast Youth Conservation Center (SYCC) in Apollo Beach, Florida. Finished in August 2019, the SYCC pier was the 200th WBG project completed since the program’s inception in 2010.

The SYCC project exemplifies the WBG program, which unites labor union workers to volunteer their time and talents to complete conservation, public access, education, youth outreach and adult mentorship projects that would otherwise go undone. The program has touched communities in 31 states and is currently enjoying a surge in growth. The value of donated volunteer labor topped the $1,000,000 mark in early 2019 and the USA’s youth programs will soon reach the milestone of taking more than 10,000 kids fishing.

Pure Fishing CEO Harlan Kent

“We are truly honored to receive the Lifetime Partner Award from the USA,” said Pure Fishing CEO Harlan Kent. “Over the years our partnership with the USA has offered families the opportunity to enjoy learning about conservation and fishing through projects like the SYCC boardwalk and fishing pier, which we were thrilled to be able to support. As a partner of the USA, we applaud their commitment to preserving fishing and the outdoors for our local communities.”

“Thanks to the generosity of Pure Fishing, the number, scope and impact of youth outreach and conservation projects orchestrated by the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground program has increased dramatically since 2017, when we completed our 100th project,” said USA Director of Membership, Marketing and Communications Brian Dowler.

“We’re honored to have Pure Fishing as a partner,” Dowler continued. “The company’s donations of fishing rods, reels and tackle allow participants to begin their fishing careers and strengthen their bond with nature long after attending one of our outreach events.”

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.

Provost Umphrey Receives Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Lifetime Partner Award

August 29, 2019 in Conservation News, General, Press Release

Provost Umphrey’s contributions support a variety of conservation, public access, education and youth outreach projects conducted by union volunteers, like this new wheelchair-accessible boardwalk and fishing pier at the Suncoast Youth Conservation Center in Apollo Beach, Florida.

Provost Umphrey Law Firm’s generous support of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s (USA) mission to unite the union community in the preservation of North America’s outdoor heritage has earned the organization’s $250,000 Lifetime Partner Award.

The award recognizes the Texas-based law firm—a national leader in the fight for justice and workers’ rights for nearly 50 years—for surpassing the $250,000 donor mark.

“Our firm is honored to receive this distinguished award from the USA,” said Provost Umphrey Managing Partner Joe Fisher. “The USA’s commitment to conservation and the education it provides youth is imperative to our future, and we are proud to support its ambitions and forthcoming endeavors.”

Provost Umphrey Managing Partner Joe Fisher

USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance said the firm’s donations are part of an even larger commitment. “In 2018, Provost Umphrey became the USA’s first Platinum Level Conservation Sponsor by pledging $1 million over five years to support Work Boots on the Ground (WBG), the USA’s flagship conservation program,” he said.

“Like the steadfast support from our founding partners, charter unions, corporate sponsors and union volunteers, Provost Umphrey’s contributions have helped shift our mission delivery into high gear,” Vance added, noting that the USA recently celebrated the completion of its 200th WBG project 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 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 program has touched communities in 31 states; the value of donated volunteer labor topped the $1,000,000 mark in early 2019 and the USA’s youth programs will soon reach the milestone of taking more than 10,000 kids fishing.

“As fellow hunters, anglers and conservationists, Provost Umphrey’s leadership believes in our mission and recognizes the importance of protecting our outdoor heritage,” Vance said. “The growth in the number of USA youth events and conservation projects, as well as the increased complexity of the work our volunteers are doing, is a direct result of this kind of valuable support.” 

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Honors Jeff Burgin as SMART Conservation Steward of the Year

August 27, 2019 in Articles, Conservation News, General, Press Release

SMART General President Joseph Sellers, Jr. (L) and USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance (R) presented Jeff Burgin with the SMART Conservation Steward of the Year Award.

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) has honored Jeff Burgin of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) with the 2019 SMART Conservation Steward of the Year Award for his efforts to improve public access to one of the Southeast’s premier fishing and recreational boating destinations.

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.

Burgin, of Dunlap, Tennessee, serves as SMART Local 5’s Chattanooga-area business representative. He also championed a USA Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) project to enhance access to Tennessee’s Lake Chickamauga—a popular destination for anglers and other watersports enthusiasts from within the state and around the country.

Burgin played a pivotal role in the major overhaul of one of Chickamauga’s busiest access points, the Wolftever Creek Boat Ramp adjacent to Harrison Bay State Park just outside Chattanooga. The renovation expanded year-round access by replacing an existing dilapidated dock with a brand-new, 104-foot-long, handicap-accessible floating pier. Volunteers also restored a fishing pier adjacent to the launch and later hosted a USA Take Kids Fishing Day event at the rejuvenated ramp.

The entire project was conducted without 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 by volunteers from SMART Local 5, UAW Local 42, IBEW Local 175 and Iron Workers Local 704.

“Jeff was crucial to the Wolftever Creek fishing access project,” said USA Conservation Manager Rob Stroede. “He, along with the apprentices that he leads, donated their time on multiple weekends to see the restoration through to the end. Without his assistance and leadership, the project would have been difficult to complete. Now the renovated pier provides better access to the thousands of anglers and boaters who utilize the boat ramp, as well as to the many anglers who fish from the pier.”

For his part, Burgin said the efforts were a labor of love.

“After hearing Stroede speak about the upcoming project and the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground program at a Chattanooga Area Labor Council meeting, I was hooked and told him that we wanted to help,” Burgin explained. “The USA is spot-on with their efforts to provide union labor with an outlet to serve their communities with meaningful conservation projects that positively impact the environment. I’m thankful to serve and look forward to working with the USA again in the future.”

USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance presented Burgin with his award August 15, 2019 at SMART’s Second General Convention in Las Vegas.

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.

John Heinz NWR Enhancements Earn Union Sportsmen’s Alliance 2019 Project of the Year Award

August 21, 2019 in Conservation News, General, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

 

Union volunteers’ efforts to enhance visitors’ experiences at the nation’s first Urban National Wildlife Refuge earned the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) 2019 Project of the Year Award.

Located just six miles from downtown Philadelphia, the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge conserves critical wildlife habitat of the Tinicum Tidal Marsh. With 35 million people living within a two-hour drive, the refuge also offers tremendous opportunities for connecting community residents with the outdoors.

John Heinz NWR welcomes 260,000 visitors annually with a wide variety of interpretive programs and recreational activities including fishing, kayaking, hunting and wildlife watching. It also serves as a living classroom, offering environmental education and outreach programs that touch the lives of 17,000 area youth each season.

Unfortunately, funding and staff shortages left a number of maintenance projects at this urban treasure undone. When USA Conservation Advisory Committee member Connie Parker learned that parts of the refuge infrastructure were in dire need of attention, she connected the USA with Department of the Interior (DOI) Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks Aurelia Skipwith. 

In turn, Skipwith was instrumental in connecting the USA with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff, who administer the National Wildlife Refuge System, and getting the project started. Organized through the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) conservation program, these efforts have completed a series of improvements.

Union volunteers spent nearly 700 hours completing a series of projects to improve visitor experiences at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge.

In 2018, union volunteers from four Philadelphia-area locals donated nearly 700 hours of skilled labor valued at more than $36,000 to make critical road repairs, install a new non-motorized boat launch and restore a popular wildlife observation tower. Machinery usage valued at $20,000 pushed the total project value over $56,000. With work continuing in 2019, the value of refuge enhancements that benefit local residents continues to climb.

Volunteers from the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Local 14, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 21, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 542 and United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers Local 30 donated their time and varied trade skills to the project.

“Our engineers came in to stabilize and resurface the refuge’s wetland loop road while the construction and painting crews worked on the kayak/canoe launch and tower,” said John Stahl, volunteer project leader and apprenticeship training director for Insulators Local 14.

Volunteers scraped and repainted the double-deck observation tower, one of the refuge’s oldest and most-used features, and rebuilt its deteriorating access walkway. They also installed a support foundation for a new floating boat launch and constructed a hinged walkway that allows the platform to rise and fall with tidal fluctuations. 

Such improvements were godsends to refuge staff and will enhance the experience of all visitors. “What these volunteers did here really benefits the public by making sure we have safe and equal access for everyone who comes to visit,” said John Heinz Refuge Manager Lamar Gore. “If we didn’t have these skilled volunteers through the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance, we would have to close some things down for longer periods of time. These guys help us keep things moving, which means people can continue to fully appreciate this space.”

“We’re very honored to support the National Wildlife Refuge System’s efforts to protect our precious natural areas for current and future generations of Americans to enjoy,” said USA Director of Conservation and Community Outreach Forrest Parker. “And we are proud of the many union volunteers and their selfless dedication to restoring these features that are so important to the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge. Their accomplishments truly deserve the recognition the Project of the Year Award brings. 

“Every one of the people who donated their free time to work on this great project deserves credit,” Stahl said during the award presentation at the USA’s recent Fundraising Gala in Washington, D.C. “Because coming together as union brothers and sisters to support our communities is what it’s all about. And I think that’s what the presentation of this award really shows. I’m very proud to be part of a brotherhood that cares enough to give back.”

The DOI has also acknowledged the importance of such public-private partnerships. On September 29, 2018, the USA joined DOI officials at John Heinz NWR to celebrate the first Urban National Wildlife Refuge Day and kickoff of refuge-enhancement projects. A coalition of partners including Pure Fishing, the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, the National Wild Turkey Federation and Plano Synergy supported the event.

Refuge improvements included the creation of a launching dock for kayaks and canoes.

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 Local 915, Insulators Local 67, Iron Workers Locals 7, 397 and 808, IUOE Local 487, LiUNA Locals 310, 517 and 1652, Machinists Local 1000, Roofers and Waterproofers Local 123, UA Locals 123 and 915, UBC Locals 1, 283, 1000, 1809, 1905 and 4070, 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.

USA, Partners Celebrate Union-Powered Public Shooting Range Improvements

August 1, 2019 in General, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

Roofers International President Kinsey Robinson (center right) and IBEW Local 26 Business Manager George Hogan (center left) joined union volunteers at a ribbon-cutting ceremony dedicating new shooting stations at Prince George’s County Trap and Skeet.

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) and a consortium of partners celebrated the improvement of public recreational shooting opportunities at Prince George’s County Trap and Skeet Center in Glenn Dale, Maryland, July 31.

A dedication ceremony marked the completion by local labor union members of three covered, fully accessible shooting stations that will be available to community residents and other guests using the range.

“We’re proud to be part of this effort, where union members rolled up their sleeves to help Prince George’s continue to provide the community with some of the finest shooting opportunities in the United States,” said Kinsey Robinson, USA board of directors member and international president of the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers.

Organized through the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) conservation program, the project was completed at no cost to the public. 

Union volunteers from IBEW Local 26, SMART Local 100, IUEC Local 10, IW Local 5 and the UBC, along with the Union Labor Life Insurance Company (ULLICO), collectively donated more than 445 hours of skilled labor worth over $23,500. Plus, $10,000 in materials was donated using funds from the USA’s Capital Area Conservation Dinner, for a total project value of more than $33,500.

Located just outside Washington, D.C., Prince George’s Trap and Skeet Center is a premier shotgun clay target shooting range open to the public, youth groups and other organizations year-round. The addition of the new shooting stations gives visitors from all walks of life expanded opportunities to enjoy a variety of shooting sports activities including trap, skeet and sporting clays.

The facility is part of the Department of Parks and Recreation administered by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.

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.

Chicago-Area Veteran, Machinists Member Featured On USA’s Brotherhood Outdoors TV

July 26, 2019 in Brotherhood Outdoors TV, General, Press Release

 

Michael Wojciechowski of Elmwood Park, Illinois, heads to the wide-open spaces of Wyoming for his first-ever pronghorn hunt on an episode of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s (USA) Brotherhood Outdoors television series airing on the Sportsman Channel the week of July 29.

Wojciechowski, a member of International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) Local 48 in Chicago, is a six-year Navy veteran who also spent 17 years in the U.S. Army National Guard. He credits his military experiences with instilling in him a sense of discipline and fostering the ability to quickly analyze and understand unfamiliar situations and surroundings.

These skills served him well as a machine maintenance worker at PSW Industries and later for the Chicago Transit Authority. As it turns out, they also come in handy on the trail of antelope.

Wojciechowski has spent a lifetime pursuing whitetails in Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and Missouri—along with mule deer in Nebraska. But when he arrives at Four Horse Outfitters in Moorcroft, Wyoming, he discovers the game here is different. It’s less about finding pronghorns in the rolling hills and wide-open spaces, and more about zeroing in on the right one.

Check out how his fascinating hunt unfolds on the Sportsman Channel Tuesday, July 30 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. 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.

CLICK HERE to view a preview of Wojciechowski’s episode.

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, 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).

7th Annual USA Fundraising Gala Celebrates Mission Expansion, Union Brotherhood and Valued Partners

July 22, 2019 in Conservation News, General, Press Release

The Joint Armed Forces Color Guard of the United States Military District of Washington presented the colors at the beginning of the USA’s Fundraising Gala.

In the spirit of brotherhood and solidarity, the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) held its 7th Annual Fundraising Gala July 16 at AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, D.C.

With more than 200 in attendance, the union-powered nonprofit organization raised nearly $200,000 in net proceeds to help propel its mission to unite the union community in providing access to the outdoors, opportunities for all, and preserving North America’s outdoor heritage.

“It’s been only 12 years since we launched the USA,” AFL-CIO President, USA founder and board chair Richard Trumka said in his address to the group. “And we now have more than 300,000 active members—and counting.”

The USA draws on the talents of its members—union brothers and sisters who possess a variety of trade and organizational skills—who volunteer their time to participate in projects that benefit conservation and public access in their local communities. Volunteers also donate time to outreach events such as youth outdoors days and veterans’ fishing events.

AFL-CIO President and USA Board of Directors Chair Richard Trumka addressed the gathering.

“The USA was responsible for more than 40 conservation projects from Maine to Oregon through our Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) program last year,” added Trumka, “where more than 600 volunteers donated 5,000-plus hours worth a quarter-million dollars in skilled union labor.

“And in one day—a single day—800 kids across the country got the chance to experience the thrill of casting a line and catching a fish through our outreach programs. Since 2017, we’ve introduced over 10,000 kids to fishing through our Get Youth Outdoors program!”

Jeanette Mauk, Ohio AFL-CIO field representative and recipient of the USA’s 2018 Volunteer of the Year Award, summed up the volunteer experience. “We do what we do because it’s in our hearts,” she said. “Union members want to give back to the communities in which they work and live, and doing things like renovating a disabled-accessible fishing pier at a public park, or putting on a Take Kids Fishing Day does just that, while strengthening ties between union members and their neighbors.”

“Coming together as union brothers and sisters to support our communities is what it’s all about,” echoed Insulators Local 14 Apprenticeship Training Director John Stahl. He organized and led a multi-faceted Work Boots on the Ground project to enhance public access and rebuild facilities at the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge in Philadelphia last year, which continues in 2019. The undertaking, which earned the USA’s 2018 Conservation Project of the Year Award at the Gala, directly benefits the 35 million people who live within a two-hour drive of this urban refuge.

The final individual honor presented at the Gala, the USA’s Lifetime Achievement Award, went to United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers International President Kinsey Robinson. One of the organization’s original founders, Robinson now serves on the board of directors, and was recognized for his longtime service to the USA.

USA President and CEO Scott Vance also thanked the organization’s Charter Unions for their unwavering support to the mission of uniting union members in service to their communities.

USA Charter Unions include:

AFL-CIO
International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers
International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
International Association of Operative Plasterers and Cement Masons
International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers
International Brotherhood of Boilermakers
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers
International Union of Elevator Constructors
International Union of Painters and Allied Trades
IUE–CWA Industrial Division
Laborers International Union of North America
North America’s Building Trades Unions
NFL Players Association
United Association
United Auto Workers
United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers
Utility Workers Union of America

Vance is also quick to point out that the organization’s ability to contribute to the welfare of the outdoors and people who cherish it lies not only with its dedicated unions and their members.

“From the beginning, we’ve welcomed and are grateful for the assistance and steadfast support from corporate partners who are devoted to our mission,” he said. “Partners like the Union Insurance Group (UIG), Bank of Labor, the Union Labor Life Insurance Co. (ULLICO) and Carhartt. Each of these organizations is a Diamond Level Partner, having provided more than $1 million each to the USA over the past 12 years.”

Four organizations were given special recognition during the event for their part in supporting USA’s mission. For donations surpassing $250,000, Lifetime Partner Awards were presented to Segal Consulting/Marco Advisors, Provost-Umphrey Law Firm, American Income Life Insurance Co., and Pure Fishing. Special thanks went to founding partner Buck Knives for its invaluable contributions dating back to the USA’s inception, including handsome, custom-logoed knives for the Gala. Additional founding partners include AFL-CIO Investment Trust Corporation, Bank of Labor, UIG, and ULLICO.

“There is no way the USA could have become as big, or as strong, or accomplished as much, without the support of these valuable and loyal founding partners and those who have joined them in support of our mission,” Vance said.

Along with the awards program and great fellowship, event attendees enjoyed a delicious meal and beverages, generously supplied and served by the Union Insurance Group, and had a fabulous time participating in the event’s fundraiser raffle and auction. Donated items ranged from a Florida Keys tarpon adventure and African safari to custom firearms and a trip to the NFL Pro Bowl.

Many thanks to all those who attended and helped support the USA’s mission.

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 Restore Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge Fishing Pier

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

A popular fishing pier on Champion Lake in the Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge received a much-needed facelift thanks to union volunteers, the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) and the Lower Trinity Basin Master Naturalists.

Organized under the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground conservation program, volunteers from the International Union of Elevator Constructors Local 31, United Association Plumbers Local 68, United Steelworkers Local 13-1, Insulators Local 22 and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Locals 716, 351 and 66 joined forces June 22-23 to restore the aging, 150-foot structure.

“We replaced pretty much everything above the waterline,” said project leader and retired Local 68 secretary/treasurer Mike Cramer, adding that the effort entailed roughly 240 hours of skilled labor and 80 hours of general labor—a donation of time and talent worth nearly $15,000.

Funds for lumber and other building supplies were also donated. “The project required nearly $10,000 worth of construction materials,” said Cramer, “which were purchased with proceeds from the annual conservation fundraising dinner organized by the Houston Gulf Coast Building and Construction Trades Council and the USA.”

Union volunteers donated more than 300 hours to restore the popular fishing and wildlife observation pier.

The spacious T-shaped pier is a favorite destination for refuge visitors who want to view wildlife or fish for abundant bass, crappies and catfish on the 800-acre lake.

“The pier was built 15 years ago,” said refuge manager Stuart Marcus, “and was showing its age. Between the flooding we get from time to time, extreme seasonal temperature swings and normal wear and tear, it really did need to be repaired.

“We’ve enjoyed working with the unions over the years, and this was another fantastic job.” he added. “It would not have been possible without the USA, the volunteers who donated their time and the union-raised funds used to purchase the materials.” 

Though the project took only two days to complete, getting started on it proved to be challenging, according to Cramer. “Our plan was to start work several weeks ago when air temperatures were in the 70s,” he explained, “but heavy rains upstream put the structure under water. When lake levels dropped and the volunteers could finally get to it, they were working in sweltering 90-plus degree weather. But they’re a dedicated bunch and got the job done.”

USA Director of Conservation and Community Outreach Forrest Parker explained that the Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge project, like similar efforts the USA has organized across the United States, was a labor of love. 

“It’s an honor to support the national wildlife refuge system’s efforts to protect a network of lands and waters for conservation for the benefit of all Americans,” he said. “And we are extremely proud of the union volunteers who donate their time and trade skills to complete projects on refuges and elsewhere in their local communities to improve public access and impact the future of conservation and our shared outdoor heritage.”

Parker noted that projects resulting from the USA’s partnership with the Department of Interior (DOI) also include ongoing enhancement work at the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge in Philadelphia, where union volunteers donated more than 800 hours of skilled labor to install a kayak launch dock, make improvements to an observation tower and repair roads and trails.

Carhartt Earns USA Diamond Life Corporate Achievement Award

June 26, 2019 in Conservation News, General, Press Release

AFL-CIO President and USA Chairman of the Board Richard L. Trumka (center) presented Carhartt Marketing VPJanet Ries (left) and Carhartt Strategic Partnerships and Influencer Marketing Manager Brian Spiro with the Diamond Life Corporate Achievement Award.

Carhartt, a brand on which industrious workers worldwide have come to depend, has earned the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s (USA) 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 support of the USA’s mission to unite the union community through conservation and community service projects that improve public access to the great outdoors.

Headquartered in Dearborn, Mich., Carhartt is a longtime sponsor of the USA Shooting Tour, a series of sporting clays and trapshooting events held at venues across the country. Carhartt is also a staunch supporter of the organization’s popular Brotherhood Outdoors television series and Conservation Dinner fundraising program.

“Corporate responsibility is a core principle at Carhartt,” said Brian Spiro, strategic partnerships and influencer marketing manager. “It extends to our customers, our business associates and our natural resources as well. We are proud of our strong association with the USA, and its mission to preserve and protect North America’s outdoor heritage.”

Brian Dowler, USA director of membership, marketing and communications, believes Carhartt is a perfect fit for the organization and its members, and calls the apparel icon’s support a key factor driving the USA’s ever-expanding mission impact.

“Carhartt is a strong supporter of organized labor, and their clothing and products are worn and used every day by millions of hard-working Americans,” said Dowler. “We are proud of our partnership with Carhartt and grateful that we are able to deliver conservation to more communities because of their commitment to our mission.

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.

Union Volunteers Build Blinds For Physically Challenged Sportsmen

June 13, 2019 in Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

A pair of new track chair-accessible ground blinds donated to the Michigan DNR will give physically challenged hunters and wildlife watchers better access to the great outdoors.

Disabled veterans and other physically challenged outdoors enthusiasts will soon enjoy better access to Michigan’s public lands.

Michigan Operation Freedom Outdoors (MiOFO), in partnership with the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) and United Auto Workers (UAW) Ford National Community Outreach Program, donated two track chair-accessible ground blinds to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) at a recent charity event in South Lyon, Michigan.

Presented by MiOFO President Tom Jones during the Garmin Automotive OEM Technology Show and Charity Golf Outing, the structures will be placed within the Sharonville State Game Area in Jackson County, where they will be available for hunting and wildlife viewing.

The donated blinds are among a dozen such structures that have been, or will soon be, placed on public hunting lands in Michigan as part of a far-reaching program developed by MiOFO and executed by USA and UAW volunteers.

The new blinds will create outdoor opportunities for hunters of all physical abilities.

As part of the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground conservation initiative, union volunteers from the UAW-Ford National Community Outreach Program donated their time and expertise to construct the blinds, according to Jones.

“Our partners’ gift of labor allows us not only to expand outdoor opportunities for individuals with health challenges,” he said, “but also to increase the number of hunters in the community, which helps ensure that public lands will always be around for everyone to enjoy.

“About 12 percent of Michigan’s land area belongs to the public,” he continued, “and with the help of the USA, UAW and MDNR, our goal is to install at least one accessible blind within every one of the state’s designated game areas.”

A project with such lofty and wide-ranging goals is a perfect fit for this partnership, said UAW-Ford Community Outreach and Veterans Initiative Coordinator Jeff Terry.

“It’s a testament to our close teamwork,” said Terry. “And to all that can be accomplished through collective bargaining for our members, as well as in the communities in which we live, play and work.”

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 Honors Boilermakers Local 627 Member with Conservation Steward of the Year Award

June 7, 2019 in Conservation News, General, Press Release

IBB member Ryan Creeden was instrumental in helping the Pipers High School Trap Team double its roster to more than 40 participants.

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) has honored Ryan Creeden of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers (IBB) Local 627 with the 2019 IBB 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.

Creeden, of Kansas City, Missouri, is a member of IBB International 627 and tireless promoter of youth shooting sports.

Ryan Creeden

“Ryan led the charge to transform financial support from the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance, the USA’s Greater Kansas City Conservation Dinner committee, the Boilermakers Sporting Clays Shoot and Bank of Labor into guns, ammunition and other necessary gear to outfit the Piper, Kansas, high school trap team in 2018,” said USA Director of Union Relations Walt Ingram. “The success of his efforts and this program speak volumes; in 2019, the team roster more than doubled with over 40 youth participating.”

“Providing hands-on opportunities for youth to enjoy the fun and rewards of the shooting sports is critical to the future of hunting and recreational shooting,” said USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance. “Ryan’s assistance in helping the Piper Trap Team grow is a testament to the great things that can happen when American union workers, unions and groups like the USA join forces to share our passion for the outdoors with the next generation of hunters and recreational shooters.”

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.

Bank of Labor Receives USA Diamond Life Corporate Achievement Award

June 6, 2019 in General, Press Release

Bank of Labor is a longtime supporter of the USA’s conservation dinners, shooting tour, Brotherhood Outdoors TV and other programs.

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) proudly announces that Bank of Labor of Kansas City, Kansas, 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.

Bank of Labor President Robert McCall

“Bank of Labor is involved in all aspects of the USA,” said USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance, “be it in the field at our numerous regional events, as a valuable television broadcast partner, in the office supporting the financial needs and strategy of this organization or working behind the scenes to engage more unions and more union members in our mission.”

Bank of Labor is a longtime sponsor of USA’s popular Brotherhood Outdoors television show, which airs 26 weeks a year on the Sportsman Channel, and also supports the USA Shooting Tour, the organization’s Fundraising Gala and USA Conservation Dinner program, among other things.

“Having the leadership and field staff of Bank of Labor as allies of this organization has contributed greatly to the success of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance,” Vance added. “They have been and remain a solid part of this organization’s foundation.

“Bank of Labor is constantly looking for ways to help the USA connect with more members and complete our mission, and we are always looking for ways to strengthen labor through their fantastic programs,” he continued. “Our relationship is a true partnership in every possible way.”

“We are extremely honored to receive the Diamond Life Corporate Achievement Award,” said Bank of Labor President Robert McCall. “It’s a milestone on the long path our organization has taken with the USA—a path we look forward to following for years to come.

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 Names Ben Hur Construction Union Contractor of the Year

May 10, 2019 in Conservation News, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

USA Strategic Accounts Manager Sam Phipps (left) presented the USA Union Contractor of the Year Award to Ben Hur Construction Vice President Mark Douglas.

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) proudly announces it has recognized Ben Hur Construction Company of St. Louis, Missouri, with its inaugural Union Contractor of the Year Award.

Presented May 1 at The Association of Union Constructors Leadership Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, the prestigious award acknowledges Ben Hur’s selfless commitment to unite the union community behind a large-scale conservation project in Florida.

“Our goal for the Union Contractor of the Year Award is to recognize a contractor who truly lives and breathes solidarity and community,” said USA Strategic Accounts Manager Sam Phipps. “A contractor who goes above and beyond to make the mission of uniting a unique community through conservation possible. We want to recognize a union contractor who believes in making a positive impact and providing our future generations of outdoors enthusiasts opportunities that wouldn’t exist otherwise.”

The $800,000 project, organized by the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground conservation program, encompasses building a wheelchair-accessible boardwalk and fishing pier alongside a 2.5-acre saltwater pond and marsh adjacent to the Suncoast Youth Conservation Center (SYCC) in Apollo Beach, Florida. The project will be the USA’s largest undertaking to date and is expected to be completed in May of 2019.

Until 2017, the effort to build the long-awaited structure was stalled due to a lack of funding. It was then that the USA tackled the endeavor—working with a consortium of partners including the Florida Gulf Coast Building Trades Council, Florida AFL–CIO, Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida (FWFF), Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Southern States Millwright Regional Council, The Saunders Foundation, Frank E. Duckwall Foundation, Pure Fishing and a number of local labor unions.

To give the project one of its largest pushes forward, Ben Hur Construction volunteered to manage the entire construction effort and to see it through to completion. The move amounted to an in-kind donation valued at $100,000.

Ben Hur Senior Project Manager Jason A. Brown said when the company first heard about the project, it quickly volunteered to help.

“We’ve been around for 120 years as a union contractor and have a long history of community support,” he explained. “Being involved with an organization like the USA is a great fit for us, and a perfect way to give back to the union members who work so hard for us every day.”

SYCC’s campus, located on the eastern shoreline of Tampa Bay, includes a 6,000-square-foot education facility, outdoor classroom, hiking and kayak trails, as well as a wildlife observation tower—all of which help to attract more than 11,000 youth and adults per year to visit and participate in its various marine education programs.

By design, the new boardwalk and fishing pier will now allow even greater access to fishing, observation of wildlife and the study coastal marine habitats with minimal impact to the environment.

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Supports NSSF Project ChildSafe

May 8, 2019 in General, Press Release

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) is proud to announce its support of the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s (NSSF) Project ChildSafe program to help promote safe firearms handling and responsible storage when not in use.

NSSF launched Project ChildSafe in 1999 as a nationwide initiative to promote firearms responsibility and provide safety education to all gun owners. The centerpiece of the program is its free firearm safety kits, which include a cable-style gun lock and safety brochure. To date, the program has distributed more than 38 million free gun locks through partnerships with more than 15,000 law enforcement agencies.

The USA will promote Project ChildSafe via a variety of channels to millions of labor union members who participate in hunting and the shooting sports, including digital media, the organization’s national shooting tour, regional conservation dinners and its award-winning television show, Brotherhood Outdoors.

The USA will promote NSSF’s Project ChildSafe and free gun locks to millions of labor union members.

“Safe, responsible gun use is a cornerstone of our youth outreach, adult mentorship and shooting tour events,” said USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance. “We are excited to help Project ChildSafe promote firearm safety and ensure firearms owners have the tools and information they need to store their firearms responsibly. Proper storage is the number one way to help prevent firearm accidents, theft and misuse, and as an organization committed to preserving our outdoor heritage, the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance understands how important safety education is to that mission.

“In joining with Project ChildSafe, we stand alongside a coalition of conservation allies and shooting sports organizations, along with nearly 9,000 individual retailers, gun ranges and hunter safety instructors,” Vance added. “This outreach has already reminded millions of gun owners to safely and securely store their firearms when not in use. Harnessing union members’ passion for firearms safety, community service and preserving our outdoor heritage will help spread this important message to millions more.”

The USA’s Project ChildSafe promotion is part of an ongoing partnership with NSSF. Utilizing an NSSF grant, the USA recently held a series of Get Youth Outdoors Day events through its Work Boots on the Ground program, in which union volunteers trained in firearms safety instruction provided more than 130 youth with hands-on introductions to shooting disciplines including trap, sporting clays, riflery and archery.

The organizations also teamed up on a “Mentoring Rewarded” campaign that awarded 1,500 Buck knives and three Savage firearms to adults who introduced youth to hunting and recreational shooting.

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.”

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 Volunteers, Partners Propel Suncoast Youth Conservation Center Project Forward

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

A concerted effort by 65 skilled union volunteers on Saturday, April 13 pushed construction of a wheelchair-accessible boardwalk and fishing pier at the Suncoast Youth Conservation Center (SYCC) in Apollo Beach, Fla., closer to completion.

Collectively, donations in funds, volunteer union labor, materials and other construction expenses from project partners are expected to top $800,000. The project will be the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s (USA) largest undertaking to date and is expected to be completed in May of 2019.

Organized by the USA with support from a wide range of partners, the project aims to give thousands of Florida youth and their families better firsthand access to the Gulf of Mexico’s inshore ecosystem.

Union volunteers donated 622 hours of skilled labor valued at nearly $33,000 during Saturday’s workday event, focusing much of their efforts on installing the new pier’s decking.

The wheelchair-accessible boardwalk and fishing pier project is being organized as part of Work Boots on the Ground – the USA’s flagship conservation program. Project partners include the USA, Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida (FWFF), Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Southern States Millwright Council, The Saunders Foundation, Frank E. Duckwall Foundation, Ben Hur Construction, Pure Fishing and a number of local labor unions. 

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. 

Nearly 70 union volunteers rolled up their sleeves to work on the new wheelchair-accessible boardwalk and fishing pier at the Suncoast Youth Conservation Center in Apollo Beach, Florida.

The new boardwalk and fishing pier will flank a recently restored, 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.

“We’re grateful to all the volunteers who have donated their time, talent and other resources to make this new wheelchair-accessible boardwalk and fishing pier a reality. Thanks to them, there will be greater access to fishing and wildlife viewing opportunities, which supports our mission to engage youth and families in the outdoors and conservation,” said Rae Waddell, director of FWC’s Florida Youth Conservation Centers Network. “Providing access to the pond and saltwater marsh at the Suncoast Youth Conservation Center is important for creating the next generation of conservationists. Time spent outdoors also provides youth, families, school groups and others with numerous benefits–ranging from health improvements to better academic performance.”

USA national partner Pure Fishing, the country’s largest manufacturer of fishing gear, has been a driving force in the project’s development. “While this project satisfies all of the conservation criteria—people, outdoors, on the water, learning to appreciate our great stewardship of natural abundance—it also speaks volumes of what can be done when it is for the right reason,” said Pure Fishing Stewardship and Government Relations Director Connie Parker, who also serves on the FWFF board of directors. 

“Multiple non-profits, labor unions, a state agency, state wildlife foundation and industry partners–all organizations with different business models–put down their ideology, joined talent, skill and dedication, dropped their return on investment rubicon and did what was right for land, water and people,” she continued. “We were in this moment united not in doing well but in doing good for the right reason at the right time of need for land, water and people. It is the epitome of a blueprint of success for conservation.”

“There is not enough room to say everything I would like to say about this project and the partners involved,” said USA Director of Conservation and Community Outreach Forrest Parker. “Our volunteers continue to amaze me with their skill and dedication to their communities and the future of conservation. 

“This project has been a journey and there were times that we hit a few walls,” he continued. “During these times, every player stepped up and pushed through, gaining a little more ground than we had before. I feel honored to work amongst and with such warriors. To see a public/private partnership such as this unfold is inspiring and should motivate us all to dig deeper and think outside the box. Rest assured, the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance is ready to partner anywhere we can unite the union community through conservation and make a difference in someone’s life.”

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

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.