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USA, Union Locals Host Four Take Kids Fishing Day Events During Wisconsin’s Free Fishing Weekend

Spring Hill, TN — More than 250 youth had the chance to wet a line and catch some fish at the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s (USA) free Take Kids Fishing Day community events held in four different cities across Wisconsin during the state’s Free Fishing Weekend.

To entice newcomers to give the sport a try, Wisconsin’s Free Fishing Weekend allows people to go fishing without having to purchase a license. Likewise, the Take Kids Fishing Day events, hosted by local union volunteers through the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground program, are designed to introduce young people to the sport of fishing and nurture an interest in outdoor activities, at no cost to parents or guardians.

On Saturday, June 3, the Building Trades Council (BTC) of South Central Wisconsin, Western Wisconsin AFL-CIO and the Western Wisconsin Building Trades Council along with the Greater West Central Area Labor Council held fishing events in Madison, La Crosse and Eau Claire, respectively. In addition, the BTC of South Central Wisconsin hosted an event in Beloit on Sunday June 4.

At Carson Park in Eau Claire 20 budding anglers, mentored by 10 union volunteers from Plumbers & Steamfitters Local 434, Ironworkers Local 512 and IBEW Locals 14 and 955, spent a few hours learning how to bait hooks, cast lines and catch bluegills from the park’s small lake. Afterward they and their families were treated to a picnic lunch of grilled hotdogs and brats.

Union volunteers have been holding Take Kids Fishing Day events in Eau Claire for nine years, according to Greg Erickson, Plumbers Local 434 Business Agent and event organizer. “It’s all about getting kids outdoors and teaching basic fishing skills that they can use for the rest of their lives,” he says.

In Madison 75 youth participated in the fishing event at Vilas Park. “It was hot and sunny, but a cool breeze off the lake made it a perfect fishing day,” says Jaclyn Weitzel, Executive Director of BTC of South Central Wisconsin. “The kids caught a lot of fish, including a couple of them who landed nice largemouth bass.”

Throughout the entire process, from assembling fishing tackle to coaching young anglers to preparing a picnic-style lunch for participants and their families, 36 union volunteers donated their time to this community outreach event, she adds.

The volunteers represented various trades and locals, including Roofers Local 11, Bricklayers Local 13, Laborers Local 434, IBEW Local 159, SMART Local 18, Sprinkler Fitters Local 699, Carpenters NCSRCC 214, Ironworkers Local 383, Tradeswomen of South Central Wisconsin and the South Central Federation of Labor.

“The Take Kids Fishing Day is a great opportunity, not only for kids who might not otherwise get the chance to go fishing to learn about the sport, but to also get some exposure to the trades and what they might offer when the kids are older,” says Nate Tell, South Central Wisconsin BTC president and organizer of the event in Beloit.

Eleven volunteers from Roofers Local 11, Ironworkers Local 383, Plumbers & Steamfitters Local 75, SMART Local 18 and Cement Masons Local 4 coached 56 young anglers on how to catch bluegills at Riverside Park.

Chad Erickson Memorial Park was the venue for the Take Kids Fishing Day in La Crosse, where 100 youth showed up to cast a line, according to Bill Brockmiller, Treasurer and Webmaster of the Western Wisconsin AFL-CIO.

“The weather was a little hot, but otherwise a beautiful day,” he says, “and the children and their families were very appreciative for the opportunity to go fishing. After all, even a small fish creates a big smile on a little kid’s face.”

Mentoring the young anglers in La Crosse were 11 union volunteers from IAM Locals 21 and 1115, Plumbers and Steamfitters 434, IBEW 14, AFSCME 101 and the American Federation of Teachers Local 4999.

Every young angler who participated in the Take Kids Fishing Day events received a free rod-and-reel and a goodie bag containing essential tackle items from the USA, along with a foundation of knowledge and skills they need to continue to go fishing with their family and friends.

In all, 68 union volunteers from 20 union locals and affiliated organizations across Wisconsin donated hours of their time in planning the events and coaching the young anglers.

“That’s a strong testament to our union members’ commitment to doing good for, and giving back to, their communities,” says USA Conservation Coordinator Cody Campbell. “These volunteers not only taught children in their neighborhoods how to catch fish, they also helped them gain more appreciation for nature and the importance of taking care of our natural resources.”

The Wisconsin events were part of a series of free, community-based Take Kids Fishing Day events, organized through the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground program with support from USA national partners Provost Umphrey Law Firm, Union Plus, and Humana as well as founding partners UIG, ULLICO, Bank of Labor, AFL-CIO Investment Trust Corporation, and Buck Knives.

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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