More than 70 local youngsters participated in the 8th Annual La Crosse Area Take Kids Fishing Day at Chad Erickson Memorial Park on Sunday, June 2. A joint effort by the Western Wisconsin AFL-CIO and the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA), the free community event was aimed at introducing the next generation of anglers and conservationists to the joys of fishing.
The La Crosse-area event was one of four union-led Take Kids Fishing Day activities held over the weekend in Wisconsin. Others took place in Madison, Eau Claire and Janesville as part of Work Boots on the Ground–the USA’s flagship conservation program. The events were supported by national conservation partners Provost Umphrey Law Firm, Pure Fishing, Plano Synergy and the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation.
Much to their delight, the youngsters received a free rod and reel courtesy of Pure Fishing and game calls from Plano Synergy. In La Crosse, union volunteers from IBEW 14, BLET 13, AFSCME 1449, AFT 4999, IAMAW 21, IAMAW DL 66, IAMAW 1115, AFSCME Retirees 101, UA 434, OPEIU 277, BCT & GM 22 and ATU 519 provided instruction and assistance, which included setting up and baiting the participants’ new fishing poles and sharing bits of wisdom with the budding anglers.
After fishing, the kids and their families were treated to a picnic-style lunch, which provided the perfect opportunity to swap fish stories with their mentors.
Western Wisconsin AFL-CIO President Tyler Tubbs said the union volunteers enjoyed teaching the children about the sport and seeing their excitement at reeling in fish. “When a little kid pulls up a little fish, it’s like a 30-inch walleye to her,” he said. “Something so small gives youth so much satisfaction. That, in and of itself, makes giving our time totally worth it.”
Tubbs also said holding events like this helps build relationships between unions and the public, by reminding people that unions serve a strong purpose, and union members are friends and neighbors who enjoy giving back to their community.