Franklin, Tenn. — The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) has honored Josh Craig of Sheet Metal Workers Local 270—part of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART)—with the 2018 SMART Conservation Steward of the Year Award for his exemplary commitment to conservation and community service.
The award recognizes volunteers from each of the USA’s charter unions who have made exceptional contributions to the USA’s efforts to organize union volunteers to donate their time and unique trade skills in the preservation of North America’s outdoor heritage.
Craig, of Muskogee, Oklahoma, is an organizer and recording secretary for Local 270. He has a track record of supporting USA conservation projects, including the restoration of historic Nichols Park in Henryetta, Oklahoma.
“Josh is a shining example of the many union workers who believe in our cause and go the extra mile to improve their communities,” said USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance. “He was a driving force behind the Nichols Park project, which rallied more than 100 union volunteers from 23 locals to contribute over $100,000 in materials and volunteer labor. Together, they transformed the park into a community gathering place in the great outdoors. Josh donated materials and equipment, and personally logged over 600 hours on the project. Their union volunteer commitment created a place where the community can once again come together to fellowship, grow and thrive in the outdoors.”
Vance noted his efforts at Nichols Park predate the official project. “Josh has volunteered at Nichols Park since 2005, assisting with a variety of tasks from cutting brush and picking up trash to trimming trees and removing graffiti,” Vance explained. “Collectively, Josh and his family spent thousands of dollars and devoted thousands of hours of their own time caring for the park. He and his wife also actively support local youth foster care programs by recruiting foster families and helping supply backpacks and luggage to children in foster care.”
Vance and Forrest Parker, USA director of conservation and community outreach, presented Craig with the award on Tuesday, August 7, 2018 at the SMART TD regional meeting in Hollywood, Florida.
“I was surprised and very honored to even be considered for this,” said Craig. “I truly appreciate the work the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance does and I am proud to have been a part of this project.”
Craig said volunteering offers many rewards. “One of the most gratifying things is seeing the difference that has been made when I leave a project for the day,” he said. “As is looking back from the beginning and realizing the total transformation that has taken place—whether it be a restored park or the look in a young child’s eye as she opens her backpack to find it packed with supplies for school or presents for Christmas.”
The Conservation Steward of the Year selection process begins with the nomination of potential recipients by peers or union leadership. From this pool of nominees, USA staff select individuals who have had the greatest impact on the USA’s mission, represented their unions in the most exemplary fashion, and made the biggest difference in their local community.
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 Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’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 WBG 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.