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.
“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.