Spring Hill, Tenn. —In late January, the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) and the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) wrapped up their 2020 Mentoring Rewarded campaign upon recruiting union members to mentor 1,000 newcomers in hunting, target shooting, or firearms safety.
Through its Hunting Heritage Trust, NSSF awarded the USA a $20,000 grant to implement the recruitment campaign, backed by NSSF’s +ONE Movement messaging, which motivated labor union members to share their knowledge and passion for those activities with someone new.
“As an outdoorsman, I feel it’s our responsibility to mentor a young society in a tough world,” said Gerald Simpson, a member of the USA and International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 147, who has been mentoring youth on their first deer and turkey hunts for more than 20 years. “We need to support this tradition to keep it going in the future. Plus, I get a real feeling of satisfaction from being there for all the excitement, joy, and tears that are part of a first hunt.”
“Getting involved in hunting and the shooting sports can be a challenge for people who have never been before,” said NSSF President and CEO Joe Bartozzi. “Having a mentor makes it much easier, and this successful campaign by the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance showed that when experienced hunters and target shooters are willing to extend an invitation to someone new, it can lead to rewarding and life-changing experiences. We at NSSF were proud to provide this grant to a great organization and a worthy cause.”
All participating mentors received a Buck knife in recognition of their effort to pass on America’s outdoor heritage. By posting their mentorship photos on the USA’s Facebook page, mentors also had the opportunity to win one of three additional prizes, including a $100 Carhartt gift card, Thorogood boots, and a Buck Open Season Skinner for themselves and their mentees.
Joe Meloche, a union fighter from Clarkston, Michigan, won the Thorogood boots with a selection of photos of hunting, shooting, and meat processing with his daughters Autumn and Annabelle, who he has been mentoring outdoors since they began walking.
“I grew up in the outdoors with my grandfather. For me now, it’s so important to get girls into the outdoors. This is such a male dominated sport, and it’s important for me to teach my daughters that girls can do it too,” Meloche said. “And it’s just one more thing we can do together as a family.”
“While COVID-19 posed a lot of unprecedented challenges last year, it also created more time and opportunities for getting outdoors,” said Jay Stuart, USA director of sales and marketing. “We were honored to join forces once again with NSSF and so proud of all the union members who took someone under their wing to help carry on the longstanding American traditions of hunting and shooting.”
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.
National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF): NSSF is the trade association for the firearms industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of more than 11,000 manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers. For more information, visit nssf.org.