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The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance—An Organized Approach to Conservation

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USA, UAW Local 1853 and UAW Region 8, and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency treated more than 200 youth and their parents to a Spring Hill, Tennessee, Take Kids Fishing Day at the Tennessee Children’s Home on April 13, 2019.

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WHEN PEOPLE COME together, great things happen. As union members, Boilermakers experience that every day on the job, at home and throughout communities. But it’s also been proven in the woods and on the waters since 2007, when a small group of union leaders launched the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA).

USA’s mission is to “unite the union community through conservation to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage.” It’s an organization that millions of union members who hunt, fish, shoot and love the outdoors can call their own. Today, that vision is stronger than ever, thanks to the hard work of union members who have joined and helped build the USA. Those efforts have strengthened relationships between union leadership and members, as well as unions and the communities they serve—all while preserving and enhancing America’s outdoor heritage.

The USA isn’t just about hook-and-bullet pursuits or the conservation of precious natural resources. The organization’s community-based conservation projects and family-friendly outreach events (and the USA members who volunteer for them) give union locals a name and a face.

Those projects include improving public access to the outdoors, introducing youth and families to nature, conserving critical wildlife habitats and restoring America’s cherished parks. In 2019, the USA will reach the milestone of taking more than 10,000 kids fishing through Take Kids Fishing Day and Get Youth Outdoors Day events.

The USA also brings the know-how and muscle that only union members can—leveraging members’ skills and outdoor passion for a common purpose in its Work Boots on the Ground program. Members volunteer their time and expertise for hands-on, community-based conservation projects that benefit everyone involved. The program has more than doubled both in the number of projects as well as their impact since its inception in 2010, with the value of volunteer union labor approaching a total of $1.5 million.

The USA helps support these outreach projects by holding fundraising events, such as sporting clays competitions, and hosting conservation dinners.

In 2019, 20 sporting clays trap shoots are planned along with 36 conservation dinners across the United States. Shoots create an environment for members to bond outside the workplace, introduce youth to skilled trades and shooting sports, and demonstrate union support for hunting, fishing and recreational shooting, among other benefits.

In 2018, USA’s 10th annual sporting clays shoot, sponsored by the Boilermakers and held in Lenexa, Kansas, set a new fundraising record for all USA shoots across the country, bringing in over $200,000 and easily topping the 2017 record (also set by the Boilermakers) of $184,000. The 2018 event drew 223 participants—yet another record.

Conservation dinners feature door prizes, raffles, prize drawings and, of course, the company of union leadership and fellow members. A schedule of upcoming shoots can be found at unionsportsmen.org/events/shoots/ and a schedule of conservation dinners is at unionsportsmen.org/events/conservation-dinners/.

The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers is a charter member of USA. Free Bronze-level membership is available to all IBB members. Benefits include a digital subscription to Union Sportsmen’s Journal, free shipping at the USA online store and a 10 percent discount on the USA’s Worldwide Trophy Adventures TAGS program. There are also USA member discounts on hunting and fishing trips and outdoor gear as well as chances to win great prizes. For more information, visit unionsportsmen.org/join/ and unionsportsmen.org/.

Reporter  V58N3
Published on the Web: October 1, 2019

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