The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s (USA) community-based youth outreach events recently received a boost in the form of a $25,000 grant from the Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund.
The donation will support youth events in the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground program. Portions of the grant funds will be applied to at least a half-dozen events, including the USA’s second-annual Take Kids Ice Fishing Day in Minnesota next January.
By all accounts, the new partnership is a perfect match. Each year, the USA organizes free fishing, recreational shooting and hunting events through Work Boots on the Ground—which unites union volunteers to complete conservation, public access, education, youth outreach and adult mentorship projects that would otherwise go undone.
Launched in 2010, the program has completed 230 projects in 31 states. The value of volunteer labor donated through WBG is approaching $1.5 million, while outreach events have engaged nearly 13,000 participants, including more than 6,000 in 2019 alone.
Each outreach event is designed to connect participants with the nation’s outdoor heritage by teaching practical outdoor skills while instilling an appreciation of nature and desire to conserve and protect it.
Guided by the visionary leadership of Bass Pro founder Johnny Morris, the Outdoor Fund empowers Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s 200 million annual customers to support conservation efforts by roundup up their purchases. Rallying passionate customers alongside dedicated team members, industry partners and leading conservation organizations like the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance, Bass Pro is creating North America’s largest conservation movement to collectively shape the future of the outdoors and all who love it for generations to come.
“Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s and the USA share the same goal,” said USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance, “to introduce new people to hunting and fishing so our outdoor heritage and conservation ethics survive and flourish.”
Many of the USA’s youth events are held in urban and semi-urban areas where young people have little or no opportunity to engage in traditional outdoor activities on their own, Vance noted. “Local union members, in service to their community, volunteer their time to mentor young participants, with the hope of igniting a spark that turns into a life-long passion for the outdoors,” he explained.
“The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance is thrilled with the opportunity to partner with Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s—great organizations that share the vision of preserving our outdoor traditions and natural resources for generations to come,” added USA Conservation and Communications Director Forrest Parker. “This partnership will allow the USA to continue to grow our mission and engage even more youth and communities with the outdoors.”
Though the USA-Bass Pro Shops partnership is still in its infancy, Bass Pro Shops also supported a USA-led youth event marking the Nov. 2 dedication of a new wheelchair-accessible fishing pier at the Suncoast Youth Conservation Center (SYCC) in Apollo Beach, Florida.
Part of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Florida Youth Conservation Centers Network, the center focuses on aquatic conservation education and annually serves more than 11,000 youth and adults.
The massive new pier is the result of a multi-year community service project organized by the USA through Work Boots on the Ground. Donations in funds, volunteer union labor, materials and other construction expenses from project partners topped $800,000. 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 fishing event built into the day’s festivities. Volunteers from local labor unions, the FWC and members of the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) assisted the excited young anglers. Bass Pro Shops donated $2,000 in clothing and gear to help outfit the young anglers, while the USA used the occasion to proudly announce the Outdoor Fund grant.