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Union volunteers help Kansas City area youths catch their first fish

by Union Sportsmen's Alliance 3 Sep 18:23 UTC
All youth participants at the Greater Kansas City BCTC Take Kids Fishing Day received a free rod-and-reel combo, courtesy of Humana, to continue pursing fishing beyond the event © Union Sportsmen's Alliance

More than 200 young anglers and their families lined the banks of Spring Valley Lake alongside pro angler Brent Chapman, local union volunteers, members of the NFL Players Associations, and Kansas City Chiefs ambassadors on Saturday for the Union Sportsmen's Alliance (USA) Greater Kansas City BCTC Take Kids Fishing Day.

Hosted by the USA and the Greater Kansas City Building and Construction Trades Council (BCTC), the free event at Spring Valley Lake Park was supported by Major League Fishing, Big Brothers Big Sisters Kansas City, Pass It On—Outdoor Mentors, the KCMO Police Department, Marriott Hotel, Bank of Labor, Kansas City Parks, the Priest Holmes Foundation, Humana, and the Missouri Department of Conservation.

"This was the first year the Greater KC Building Trades participated in an event like this," said Alise Martiny, secretary-business manager of the Greater Kansas City BCTC. "It was exciting to see the youth—some of our future members—learn to fish. Many were surprised it was free and that they got to keep the rod and reel. Our volunteers are really looking forward to doing the event again next year."

The event was the latest in series of free, community-based youth outreach activities held as part of Work Boots on the Ground - the USA's flagship conservation program. The goal of the events is to introduce the next generation of anglers and conservationists to the joys of fishing.

"We knew this event was successful when lunch was ready, but the kids kept fishing," said Mike Christensen, president of Pass It On - Outdoor Mentors. "Having mentors and USA volunteers share their love for fishing gave youths the opportunity to see themselves as future anglers and opened their eyes to future career options."

Each of the young anglers received a free fishing rod and reel, courtesy of Humana, to ensure everyone had the chance to participate and hopefully continue fishing for years to come. Many of the kids won additional outdoor gear, provided by Bass Pro Shops, in giveaways held during lunch.

Union volunteers from the NFL Players Association, Iron Workers Local 10, Roofers Local 20, Sheet Metal Workers Local 2, Bricklayers Local 15, Electrical Workers Local 124, Operative Plasterers' and Cement Masons' Local 518, Insulators Local 27, and Teamsters Local 41 along with several ambassadors for the Kansas City Chiefs and staff from supporting organizations provided youth with instruction and assistance, including rigging the participants' new fishing poles and offering advice on how to hook the big one.

"It was fun to witness so many kids catch their first fish and all the smiles and happy faces," said Steven Coleman, community partnerships coordinator with Big Brothers Big Sisters Kansas City. "So many kids didn't know how to cast a line at the beginning of the event but were practically pros by the end, thanks to the volunteers and mentors from the USA and its partners."

"While we often share the number of participants, volunteer hours, and fishing rods given away at our outreach events, the immeasurable part is how many lives are enhanced by the experiences and opportunities provided," said USA Executive Director and CEO Scott Vance. "This urban event enabled us to engage with youth and families who may not have otherwise had the opportunity to experience all the outdoors have to offer and to provide them with the knowledge and tools to continue to fish on their own."

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