Birdhouse builds bring together union members and families in Kansas City


Kansas City, MO—Volunteers from Laborers’ International Union of North American (LiUNA) Local 663 hosted a family bluebird birdhouse build in early February, marking the first Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) outreach event of the year. LiUNA also hosted a kestrel nesting box project on Feb. 17 for LiUNA retirees who put their skills to work building the intricate boxes.

At the LiUNA Local 663 Hall in Kansas City, 30 participants ranging from toddlers to grandparents built and took home all 50 birdhouses that were provided by the USA.

“It was a great success,” said Jason Mendenhall, Local 663 president and business manager. “Everyone had fun. This was something free for families to do together, and it all happened at their hall. I saw two members that day I had never seen in the hall before. That in and of itself is a victory.”

Sam Phipps, Union Sportsmen’s Alliance USA conservation programs manager, suggested the family birdhouse build.

“Hosting a birdhouse build is a great way to get local members and their families together outside of the workplace,” he said. “It teaches kids a new skill while they learn about wildlife habitat. They get a real sense of pride building something with their own hands.” 

Mendenhall added that the birdhouse build was a great first step to get Local 663 involved in Work Boots on the Ground projects and Laborers Rising, a new LiUNA membership engagement and outreach program. 

On Feb. 17, LiUNA enlisted the expertise of a few Local 663 retirees to construct kestrel nesting boxes for the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDOC). According to Mendenhall, retirees Larry Wolfe and Tim Patterson “put a ton of time into this project and have become good friends in the process. They both have asked, ‘So what’s the next project?’ Again, that’s victory on multiple fronts.”  

With hinged openings and very specific requirements provided by the MDOC, the nesting boxes were a perfect fit for Local 663 retirees. The nesting boxes were delivered to the Lakeside Nature Center, and the hope is to film an instructional video on how to build the boxes in the future. 

“Local 663 is going to do other things, and we are going to engage in a lot of different projects,” said Mendenhall. “Starting small, simple, and involving the entire family is a good way to start.” 


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