The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) has honored United Association (UA) Local 68 member Glen Kirkham with the UA Conservation Steward of the Year Award for his commitment to conservation and community service.
The award recognizes volunteers from each of the USA’s charter unions who have made exceptional contributions to the USA’s efforts to organize union volunteers to donate their time and unique trade skills to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage.
Kirkham, of Rockport, Texas, earned the stewardship award for his exemplary leadership on a project to restore hurricane-damaged facilities at a popular state park on Texas’ Aransas Bay.
“Glen was essential to the completion of a project at Goose Island State Park in Rockport, which was hit hard by Hurricane Harvey in 2017,” said USA Conservation Manager Robert Stroede. “The storm damaged much of the park, including the plumbing system that provided water to 44 waterfront campsites that are used by park goers.”
The park is a popular recreational destination for campers, anglers, boaters and birdwatchers, and has recorded up to 190,000 visitors per year.
Late in 2018, Kirkham led a group of 39 volunteers from the UA and several other unions in the first phase of the project, which restored potable water to half of the waterfront sites. In early February of 2019, the project’s second phase completed repairs to the remainder of the sites. In all, union volunteers donated 235 hours of labor worth more than $12,300 to the restoration.
“Glen’s leadership on this project means that Goose Island State Park visitors can once again enjoy access to fresh water at these popular facilities along the park’s scenic waterfront,” added Stroede.
Rick Lord, Plumbers Local 68 Business Agent, presented Kirkham’s Conservation Steward of the Year Award on Jan. 26 during the 2020 AFL-CIO COPE Convention in Austin, Texas.
“Being recognized for what we accomplished at Goose Island State Park is a real honor,” said Kirkham. “But it was definitely a team effort. We had volunteers representing a lot of different trades on the project, ranging in age from their early 20s to 60-plus. Special thanks goes to one of our signatory contractors, Peninsula Plumbing and Handyman Services, for bringing in all the trucks and tools we needed to do the job.”
A real sense of camaraderie developed during the restoration, he continued. “I think the older volunteers, especially, were very proud of the way the younger ones stepped right into it. When you’ve been union for a long time, and believe in our way of life, it makes you feel good when the next generation jumps in and keeps it going. The fact that Goose Island State Park is pretty much in our backyard makes giving back to the community that much more special.”