Torstenson Youth Conservation Education Center Awards Partners for Supporting 2023 Renovations

The Torstenson Youth Conservation Education Center (TYCEC) presented awards to several unions and the Union Insurance Group (UIG) on March 7th for their critical support in completing much-needed renovations to the facility in 2023.

Managed by the Illinois Conservation Foundation (ICF), the TYCEC is a 750-acre facility that includes an 11,000-square-foot lodge, rifle and archery shooting ranges, a stocked fishing pond, hiking trails, and more. The center enables youths to learn the values of nature through mentored hunting and fishing trips, conservation education, hunter safety education, and more.

As part of its Work Boots on the Ground conservation program, the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) helped secure union volunteers in 2012 to complete several projects at TYCEC when it opened. Over the years, the USA has teamed with its union partners to complete additional maintenance projects to ensure that the 100% privately-funded facility meets the highest standards for hosting youth programs.

“With the generous support of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance and Union Insurance Group, the Torstenson Youth Conservation Education Center underwent vital renovations in 2023, particularly the restoration of the log cabin,” said ICF Executive Director Steve Ettinger. “This partnership with union labor has been essential for revitalizing a space where young minds can connect with nature and learn essential lessons about conservation.”

Funds raised at the USA’s Illinois conservation dinners and donated by UIG were used last year to hire union contractors Contemporary Hammer Works, Inc. to address log rot and add structural support to the TYCEC lodge, CPR Roofing Inc. to reroof the lodge with shingles donated by Owens Corning, and Rock River Valley Painting to stain its exterior.

United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Craftworkers Local 11 and International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) District Council 30 helped secure the contractors and completed smaller maintenance projects while International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 364 provided materials and replaced electric and light fixtures.

The TYCEC awards recognized UIG, IBEW International leadership, IBEW Local 364, Roofers International leadership, Roofers Local 11, and IUPAT District Council 30, for their combined efforts to complete projects that had been deferred for several years due to funding limitations.

“I’ve had the pleasure of guiding many youths on hunts at the Torstenson property, and some of those kids wouldn’t have had the chance to hunt otherwise,” said IUPAT DC 30 Business Manager/Secretary-Treasurer and USA board member Ryan Anderson. “Unions fight for a better quality of life for all, and access to the outdoors certainly contributes to that. That’s why IUPAT DC 30 and, I believe all the groups involved, were proud to support the renovations at the TYCEC.”

UIG President Chris DeCaigny immediately recognized the value of the TYCEC when his son participated in a duck hunt there when he was 12 years old. “When you see something that benefits so many children—5,000 to 9,000 every year—it just makes sense to do what you can to support it.”

“The Torstenson Center is such a unique facility that provides outdoor access and opportunities for kids from all different backgrounds,” said USA Executive Director and CEO Walt Ingram. “Its mission aligns perfectly with the USA, so we were happy to utilize money raised at our Illinois dinners along with our relationships with UIG and the unions to complete renovations at the property to ensure it can continue serving youths in Illinois for years to come.”