The idea of putting a permanent roof on the youth archery range at the J.W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area’s Everglades Youth Conservation Camp has come to fruition thanks to the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance and its “Work Boots on the Ground” program that mobilizes skilled union members for conservation.
Members of Sheet Metal Workers Local 32, Electrical Workers Local 359 and Carpenters Local 1809 showcased the program in full force as they utilized their trade skills to cover the 84-foot archery range.
Side by side, utilizing tools, plywood, metal tin, airguns and compressors, they worked throughout the weekend, May 3-4, to finish the job in record time and expert fashion.
According to Lynne Hawk, regional hunter safety coordinator with the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, the archery range provides year-round safety courses for children and adults, as well as school and community groups.
Hawk facilitated the project with the leadership of volunteer project leader Rick Pazos, a training director and member of SMART Local 32. “Rick did an excellent job,” Hawk said. “This project wouldn’t have gotten done if it weren’t for him. The guys all worked really hard. I am so thankful for all of them.”
Tim Mitcheltree of Loxahatchee, a member of Carpenters Local 1809, came out to lend his skills and talents to the task when he heard that it was time to replace the blue tarps that, until recently, were strung over the rafters to help protect visitors to the shooting range from the Florida sun.
“These are great projects for the whole community to be very proud of,” Mitcheltree said. “Unions in Florida are the best-kept secret in the construction industry, and this is a good way to educate the youth about what we stand for: the education and training that every union member has access to… And if they get involved in the outdoors at the same time — that is even better.”
Fred Myers, executive director and CEO of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance, said the Work Boots on the Ground program was created to form collaborations all over the country on behalf of conservation, to drive projects faced with narrowing budgets, staffing and materials challenges.
“The people who volunteer with us to identify projects, raise money to support them and show up in numbers to provide the hands-on labor all have a commitment to conservation and their communities,” Myers said.
The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance is a union-dedicated nonprofit organization, whose members use their skills for conservation. For more information, visit www.unionsportsmen.org.
ABOVE: A new, permanent roof, built this month by Union Sportsmen’s Alliance volunteers, provides shelter at the archery range.