Clear Lake, Minn.—A record-setting crowd of young outdoor enthusiasts attended the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) 11th Annual Twin Cities Get Youth Outdoors Day at Wild Marsh Sporting Clays in Clear Lake, Minnesota on Sunday, Sept. 11. Nearly 100 youths from around Minnesota lined up to learn about conservation, the union trades, firearm safety—and of course, to bust some clays.
“The energy was very high. It was great to see the excitement,” says TJ Delaney, a member of Sheet Metal Workers Local 10 and volunteer team leader for the event.
Two dozen volunteers from the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers & Allied Workers; Roofers Local 96; International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers; Iron Workers Local 512 and Cigna helped to make sure that the event was safe and fun for all kids aged nine to 17. They volunteered at every station, ranging from .22 rifles to archery to building and painting birdhouses. In addition, union members volunteered alongside shooting coaches from the community and local high schools to help the rookies and the veteran shooters.
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“I didn’t realize how much of an effect the youth event had on these kids until I brought my grandson last year,” says Roofers Local 96 Business Manager Mark Conroy. “The first thing he did when he got home was hang up the target from the .22 rifle in his room. This year my granddaughter also participated. The smiles and excitement were a testament to the event’s impact, especially when the kids were asked if they broke any clays. And they did!”
Get Youth Outdoors Day is part of a series of free, community-based youth outreach events organized under Work Boots on the Ground—the USA’s flagship conservation program—and supported by national partners Provost Umphrey Law Firm, Union Plus and Humana as well as USA founding partners UIG, ULLICO, Bank of Labor, AFL-CIO Investment Trust Corporation and Buck Knives. All supplies, including eye and hearing protection, firearms, ammunition and lunch were provided free of charge.
Minnesota native and USA Events Coordinator Eric Bakken helped to make sure this year’s event was one to remember. “I take a lot of pride in events in my home state, so I figured if I was leading this one, I was going to do it big,” he says. Big indeed. Not only did the event achieve a new attendance record, but every participating kid went home with a raffle prize.
“We had the biggest turnout ever for this year’s Get Youth Outdoors Day event,” says USA CEO and Executive Director Walt Ingram. “That alone is a testament to the devotion that our union volunteers and staff have to make this event fun and safe. Investing in the next generation of hunters and anglers is the best way to ensure that our wildlife resource will be there for many generations to come.”
Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA): The USA is a union-dedicated, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose members hunt, fish, shoot and volunteer their skills for conservation. The USA is uniting the union community through conservation to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage. For more information, visit www.unionsportsmen.org or connect on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Work Boots on the Ground (WBG): WBG is the USA’s flagship conservation program that brings together union members willing to volunteer their time and expertise to conservation projects that improve and enhance public access to the outdoors, conserve wildlife habitat, restore America’s parks and mentor youth in the outdoors. The USA’s Work Boots on the Ground program works closely with federal, state and local agencies and other conservation groups to provide manpower needed to complete critical projects that may otherwise go undone.
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