“I grew up in the outdoors with my grandfather. For me, it’s so important to get girls into the outdoors. This is such a male-dominated sport, and it’s important for me to teach my daughters that girls can do it too,” said Joe Meloche, a member of the USA and Fire Fighters Local 431 from Clarkston, Michigan. “And it’s just one more thing we can do together as a family.”
Meloche was one of the many union members to participate in the USA’s 2020 Mentoring Reward campaign. Through its Hunting Heritage Trust, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) awarded the USA a $20,000 grant to implement the recruitment campaign, backed by NSSF’s +ONE Movement messaging, which motivated labor union members to mentor 1,000 newcomers in hunting, target shooting, or firearm safety.
“Getting involved in hunting and the shooting sports can be a challenge for people who have never been before,” said NSSF President and CEO Joe Bartozzi. “Having a mentor makes it much easier, and this successful campaign by the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance showed that when experienced hunters and target shooters are willing to extend an invitation to someone new, it can lead to rewarding and life-changing experiences.”
All participating mentors received a Buck knife in recognition of their effort to pass on America’s outdoor heritage. By posting their mentorship photos on the USA’s Facebook page, mentors also had the opportunity to win one of three additional prizes, including a $100 Carhartt gift card, Thorogood boots, and a Buck Open Season Skinner for themselves and their mentees.
Meloche won the Thorogood boots with a selection of photos of hunting, shooting, and meat processing with his daughters, Autumn and Annabelle, who he has been mentoring outdoors since they began walking.
Timothy Hirsch, a member of Plasterers’ and Cement Masons’ Local 692, is a committee member for the Rochester chapter of Ducks Unlimited (DU) and has been mentoring for more than 15 years. He won the $100 Carhartt gift card with a photo from the Rochester DU Annual Greenwing Field Day where participants learned to shoot trap, set decoys, call, and watch a retriever at work.
“We need to keep youth involved and excited about hunting, fishing, and shooting activities,” Hirsch said. “We all, as sportsmen and women, have a responsibility to protect and pass on what we love. If we can teach kids to love these activities, they will be forever protected.”