Spring Hill, Tenn. – Warm winter weather drew more than 100 youth and their families to East Rush Lake in Rush City, Minnesota, for the annual Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) Minneapolis Area Take Kids Ice Fishing Day on Saturday, March 4.
Hosted by the Minneapolis Building and Construction Trades Council (BCTC), International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC) Local 9, and a coalition of additional labor unions and other supporters, the free event aimed to introduce the next generation of anglers and conservationists to the joys of ice fishing.
“It was a great day on the lake—by far, the best event we’ve had,” said Dave Morin, an IUEC Local 9 officer and the event organizer. “Every other year, we’ve had freezing rain, negative digits, six inches of snow—every condition except optimal. This year, we had beautiful weather, the kids caught lots of fish, everyone won a prize, and there were tons of smiles.”
Morin’s favorite part of the event was seeing a young girl catch her very first fish. “She was showing the perch off to everyone, kissing it, and telling everyone she wanted to put it on the wall. She was so proud,” he said.
Each young angler received a free fishing rod and reel to continue to pursue fishing in the future. Fifteen union volunteers from various trades of the Minneapolis BCTC helped the kids get comfortable with their new gear and assisted with setting lines, replacing hooks, drilling new holes, and having a blast.
“My family and I have always had a passion for the outdoors, especially fishing, and to be able to share that with young kids at the event was unbelievable,” said Isaac Stoe, a volunteer and member of IUEC Local 9. “The outdoors is becoming secondary for a lot of people, so the more we can get youth outside enjoying Minnesota’s outdoor resources, the better.”
Between optimal weather conditions and good placement of fishing holes over underwater structure, the kids caught a lot of fish. Stoe especially enjoyed teaching participants how to use electronics.
“Most of the kids are used to just using a bobber, so to be able to see what was going on below the ice was a really cool experience for them and very special for me,” Stoe said.
The Minneapolis-area event was part of a series of community-based Take Kids Fishing Day events organized through the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) conservation program. WBG organizes union volunteers to complete projects that improve public access to the outdoors, conserve wildlife habitat, restore America’s parks, and educate and engage youth in the outdoors.
Thanks to the support of local labor unions, USA, Flickabirds Resort, Thorne Bros Custom Rod and Tackle, Vados Bait & Tackle, Joe’s Sporting Goods, and Rush Lake Improvement Association, the event was completely free to participants, and every child won a prize in the raffles held during lunch.
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.