Volunteer Meeting Notes

Hello Level Walkers,

The following notes are from the 8 February Volunteer meeting.

Thanks for your support! – Steve

Dear Volunteers, 

On February 8, we held our 1st quarterly volunteer call. Hopefully some of you were able to make it, but for those who could not attend, here are some updates that Christiana provided. I have also attached the organizational chart for the division of Interpretation, Education, and Volunteers, since we have some new staff members. If you have questions about park operations, please contact me.

  • The park recently kicked off the process of creating a Development Concept Plan (DCP) for the Great Falls area. This will be a lengthy process and there will be a time in the future for community input. We will update volunteers as the process continues. 
  • The park is finalizing a Detail to fill the Great Falls Interpretive Supervisor (the position previously held by Pete Peterson who has retired).  We anticipate this 120-day detail will start this spring and be here through the summer. We are working with HR to advertise this position in order to find a long-term new supervisor. 
  • Education Interns – we have 2-3 interns who will come on in late February/early March to support the park’s K-12 school program. 
  • Interpretation Interns – we are currently hiring five 6-month interns and three year-long interns to support interpretive programs.  Interns will work out of Great Falls, Williamsport, and Cumberland and help with things like boat programs, Visitor Center operations, and public programs.
  • Georgetown’s outdoor visitor services have paused until spring and the VC is still under construction. 
  • Great Falls VC is open 5 days a week.  
  • Williamsport and Cumberland VCs are closed until March 4th.  They will reopen on Saturdays and Sundays. We are increasing staffing with interns and volunteers and will expand hours as staffing capacity increases. 
  • The Brunswick Heritage Museum (the park VC is housed inside the museum) is closed until March 18th.
  • The park continues working with local stakeholders to stand up visitor center operations in Hancock. 
  • Upcoming interpretive programming includes the FY23 season for the boats in Williamsport, Great Falls, and Georgetown (operated through our partner Georgetown Heritage), angler programs throughout the park, bike safety-focused programs, lock demonstrations, Meet the Mules programs, the Trails and Rails program, and many more!  Keep an eye on the park calendar for the latest schedule.   
  • For maintenance project updates, keep an eye on the Park Project page or the park’s social media accounts.  You can follow the park on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/chesapeakeandohiocanal  

Thank you, 

Emily Durán Hewitt

Updated NPS Dispatch Number

Hello Level Walkers,

The NPS has advised that the Dispatch office will be back to the 301-714-2235 number as of 9 a.m. on Thursday, July 7. 

The 240-469-7281 number will no longer be in use at that point, so please update your contact list. 

This number can be called for emergencies or other urgent situations that the NPS needs to be made aware of on the C&O Canal NHP. It is not intended for contact regarding routine matters.

This information will be reflected on the updated level walker report forms that you will receive over the next few weeks.

Thanks, Steve

C&O Canal Volunteer Office Staff Update

The park has provided a staff update for the program office. As many of you know, the park uses interns to support the efforts of many departments, including the volunteer program. As park volunteers, you may meet or talk to them as you perform your duties. This is a rewarding experience, both for the interns and those of us who work with talented young people as they start their careers. If you meet them, please join me in welcoming them to the C&O Canal!

Thanks, Steve

Community Volunteer Ambassador: Ashley Baker

Ashley Baker is a 2-year Americorps volunteer with an Associates Degree in Human Services, a background in mediation and a passion for Lyme Disease awareness and music. After falling ill in 2019 and becoming bedridden, Ashley was misdiagnosed for months until she was finally diagnosed with stage 3 neurological Lyme disease and co-infections. Ashley is now a pioneer in changing the way tick borne diseases are viewed by educating and engaging with the public through music, support groups, and film. Outside of volunteerism and community work, Ashley is an aspiring artist, entrepreneur and actress who enjoys writing and recording music, performing at shows up and down the east coast, and helping other indie artists develop their skills. She wants to help as many people have access to resources that enhance their individual lives, which in the long run changes families, communities, and eventually the world!

Assistant Volunteer Coordinator: Becky McCarty

Becky started her term as the Assistant Volunteer Coordinator in June 2021 and currently lives in Chambersburg, PA. Since graduating from Millersville University in 2017 with a degree in International Studies, she has traveled to Ireland, France, The Netherlands, and Belgium. Becky is passionate about tourism, current events, and history. In her spare time, she enjoys collecting postcards, reading books, and spending summer days at the lake or the beach. You are welcome to reach out to Becky anytime with questions at chohvip@gmail.com.

Community Volunteer Ambassador: Mariano Guemez

Mariano began his journey with the C&O Canal in June 2021 as a Community Volunteer Ambassador. He is a Latino resident of Washington County, MD and has a passion for the outdoors and wildlife. During his internship with the park, he plans to engage with diverse communities, allowing everyone an opportunity to experience what the park has to offer. It’s a pleasure of his to help others and to be of service for those who just need a helping hand. He is excited to get hands-on with events at the park, learning as much as he can in the process as well as making everyone feel comfortable throughout the park. He loves to hike, camp, bike, fish, and create music.

C&O Canal Volunteer Appreciation Picnics

Hello Level Walkers,

The C&O Canal is resuming their annual Volunteer Appreciation Picnics this year after a year off due to COVID 19. These are excellent opportunities to meet park staff and your fellow volunteers. The announcement from the park volunteer manager, Emily Hewitt, follows. Please contact the park per below for more information or to make reservations. Note – there is not a set alignment of which picnic you should go to related to your level location – pick the location and time that is most convenient for you.


Dear Volunteers, 

We are excited to announce that we will be hosting Volunteer Appreciation Picnics this year! There will be two locations, one for the east district and one for the west district. Please see details below and RSVP. Thank you!


  • NEW Date – Tuesday, September 14
  • Time – 5-7 p.m.
  • Location – Carderock Pavilion
  • RSVP – Email chohvip@gmail.com by August 18th


  • NEW Date – Friday, September 17
  • Time – 5-7 p.m.
  • Location – Little Tonoloway Day Use Area in Hancock
  • RSVP – Email chohvip@gmail.com by August 18th

Emily Durán Hewitt

C&O Canal Update – July 15, 2020

Hello Level Walkers!
Here is another update from the park. I’ve had the pleasure of working with both Linzy and Brendan – and I know many of you have too. Naturally, I am sad to see them move on, but happy for them that they are moving along their career paths.
The first group of reactivated level walkers has been busy!  I’m looking forward to seeing more of you get back out there; many of you asked about that and will hear more from me soon.

Dear Volunteers,

Last weekend, the C&O Canal Trust held a successful trash clean-up event. Volunteers collected a total of 45 bags of trash from 5 locations in Palisades: Fletchers Cove, Chain Bridge, Carderock, Anglers, and Great Falls. The Canal Trust is holding another trash clean-up event in the middle and west districts of the park on 7/25. For more info and to sign up visit the Canal Pride Days website.
This week I have exciting news to share with you about two of our park staff:
  • Linzy French, Assistant to the Superintendent, has accepted a promotion at Cape Cod National Seashore! Beginning in August, Linzy (who has been with C&O for 6 years) will be the Visual Information Specialist at Cape Cod. If you would like to send congratulations, she can be reached at linzy_french@nps.gov
  • Brendan Wilson, Supervisory Park Ranger in Georgetown, has accepted a promotion at Vicksburg National Military Park! Beginning in August, Brendan (who has been with the park for 4 years) will be the Chief of Interpretation, Education, and Partnerships at Vicksburg. If you would like to send congratulations, he can be reached at brendan_wilson@nps.gov
We at C&O Canal are sad to see such great colleagues go, but we are so excited for Linzy and Brendan and their new opportunities!
Emily H. Hewitt

Volunteer Update – May 22

Hello Level Walkers!

The wonderful people in the volunteer office have been busy this week! I have three things to share with you.



Dear Volunteers,
There have been no changes to the park closures. To review the status of park operations, please visit the alerts page on the park website. You can also continue to stay informed by following the park Facebook page.
This week the Volunteer Office would like to offer you opportunities to explore the park and consider some learning opportunities, both from the comfort and safety of your home. Attached is a C&O Canal virtual scavenger hunt to test your knowledge of the park. Thanks to Claire, Cheyenne, and Kara for producing the virtual scavenger hunt! Scavenger Hunt Activity
Also attached is an article from volunteer Lowell Markey with resources you can use to learn more about the NPS, history, interpretation, and more. Thanks to Lowell for the great write-up! LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES FOR NPS VOLUNTEERS
We hope you enjoy these opportunities, and feel free to let us know how you did on the virtual scavenger hunt!
Emily H. Hewitt

Volunteers & Staff,
You still have 2 weeks to submit photos for the 2021 calendar. Please send us your beautiful shots of all things C&O Canal.
We ask that you submit your photos via Google Drive to chohvip@gmail.com. To do this, compose an email and hover your mouse over the plus sign next to the attachments, click on the drive icon (resembles recycling logo), upload the photos you would like to share, and send to chohvip@gmail.com. If you have any issues with this, please feel free to attach photos to a standard email sent to the same email address.
Please label your photo files with the name of photographer and location.
– Ex. BigSlackwater_Jane_Doe.
The deadline for submission is Friday, June 5th, 2020. If your photograph is selected, you will be contacted and credited in the calendar.
Thank you and stay well!
Emily H. Hewitt


In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Volunteers-In-Parks program, we are making a video to celebrate our most valuable asset – you! As such, we are requesting pictures new and old to make a short video to celebrate the rich VIP programs at the C&O Canal. The video will be featured on the park’s social media and website, so please only make a submission if you are comfortable with being featured online!

Please print (or make your own version!) of the attached “I Volunteer Because…” document, and provide your own brief statement about what volunteering means to you. Have someone take a picture of you in your VIP uniform holding the “I Volunteer Because…” sheet. Send the picture to us at chohvip@gmail.comI volunteer because

We also welcome pictures from throughout your time volunteering at C&O Canal, so if you have any standout pictures or memories of your time here, send them our way!

We are accepting submissions until June 6. Depending on the number of submissions, we may not be able to include all we receive in the video project, however, your photos may be used for future digital creations, like at appreciation dinners or other social media posts. If you have any further questions, please let us know at chohvip@gmail.com .

Thank you for your service as a volunteer at C&O Canal, and we look forward to seeing your submissions and collaborating on this project!


Claire Connor, Kelsey Cooke, and Kara Bourland

Volunteer Update – May 15

Hello all!
Here is another update from Emily, our awesome volunteer manager at the C&O Canal.

Dear Volunteers,
I hope you are enjoying the sunshine as we finally get a little respite from all the rain. As we all know, flooding is a fact of life on the C&O Canal. This week, Cheyenne put together the attached information on how you can help with stormwater management. Maybe we can all use these sunny days to add some fun projects to our backyard to-do lists. Stormwater Volunteer Communications
The park’s new Chief of Interpretation, Education, and Volunteers is settling in to her new role in the park. Please see the attached message from Christiana Hanson to all of you. Message to Volunteers from Christiana
Enjoy the nice weather and stay well!
Emily H. Hewitt
Volunteer Program Manager
C&O Canal National Historical Park

Image – Historic Mile Marker 22 – Level 9

Volunteer Update – April 29, 2020

Hello Level Walkers!

I hope the approach of May finds you well.

Here is another update from our volunteer coordinator Emily!

Regards, Steve

C&O Canal Volunteers,
I hope you are all doing well and staying safe at home. Here are some park updates and a message from our Superintendent.
Thanks to Cheyenne for compiling some tips and resources on recycling, upcycling, and composting to celebrate the last week of “Earth Month”. See attachment to learn more about these environmentally friendly activities.
Due to rising river levels, Billy Goat Trail A is closed until further notice to ensure visitor safety and resource protection. To keep up with current park closures and conditions, make sure to visit the alerts page on the park website.
Christiana Hanson is settling in as the Chief of Interpretation, Education, and Volunteers. For more about Christiana, see the attached press release.
Finally, Park Superintendent Tina Cappetta wanted to share this message with volunteers:
“Hi everyone. I hope you and your loved ones are all well during this trying time for our nation. While this pandemic is unprecedented for our times, I always find myself looking to history for some sort of anchor. Having spent my recent years at Fort McHenry, I cannot help but think of the soldiers who returned from the front lines of WWI to General Hospital No. 2 located at the hospital buildings there, only to battle for their lives again. The legacy of service of heroes like Head Army Nurse Emily Raine Williams who cared for hundreds of wounded soldiers battling the Spanish influenza lives on today. We will see better days soon. I look forward to seeing you on the towpath.” – Tina
Emily H. Hewitt
Volunteer Program Manager
C&O Canal National Historical Park

Image – Sunrise over the Potomac – Level 27

News and Upcoming Events

Hello Level Walkers!

Look for your Along the Towpath newsletters in mid-March. There’s a lot of good stuff in this issue.  While you’re waiting for Along the Towpath, check out the VIP Newsletter Winter 2019 produced by the park’s volunteer office.  It looks great, and will fill you in on the volunteer programs and staff.

The park recently released some updates about park events in the near future.  The updates follow. There are some great programs, consider checking them out!


Spring Events at C&O Canal National Historical Park

Spring is a wonderful time to explore the wonders of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park (C&O Canal). Come for a visit and bike or walk the towpath, stop by a visitor center, enjoy the arrival of spring, or attend one of our special events. The park is open daily, and visitors are welcome to join rangers for the following special events and programs, March through May:

March 16 – Women’s History on the C&O Canal, 11:00-12:00, Great Falls Tavern, Potomac MD. Canal historian Karen Gray will discuss the vital role of women who worked on the C&O Canal.

March 16 – Music from the 19th Century, 12:30-3:00, Great Falls Tavern, Potomac MD. Join the Mountain Dulcimers of Northern Virginia for live music and try your hand at playing this unique instrument

April 13 – Celebrate the Potomac River, 10:00-3:00 Great Falls Tavern, Potomac, Md. Visit the Chesapeake Bay Roving Ranger Mobile Visitor Center. Learn how you can help maintain this beautiful area.

April 13 – Potomac River Watershed Cleanup, Various locations across the Park – Join the 31st Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup. Learn more and sign up: http://trashnetwork.fergusonfoundation.org

April 27 – Canal Pride Days, 9:00-1:00, Paw Paw Campsite, Oldtown, Md. Join the C&O Canal Trust for a day of service and fun. Space is limited! Learn more and sign up: www.canaltrust.org/programs/canal-pride-days.

May 4 – Canal Pride Days, 9:00-1:00, Great Falls, Potomac, Md. Join the C&O Canal Trust for a day of service and fun. Space is limited! Learn more and sign up: www.canaltrust.org/programs/canal-pride-days.

May 18 – Canal Pride Days, 9:00-1:00, Cushwa Basin, Williamsport, Md. Join the C&O Canal Trust for a day of service and fun. Space is limited! Learn more and sign up: www.canaltrust.org/programs/canal-pride-days.

May 25 – Williamsport Launch Boat Tours, Cushwa Basin, Williamsport, Md. These FREE 1-hour programs include riding in a historic replica canal launch boat from the Cushwa Basin to Lock 44 and back to the Cushwa Warehouse. Reservations are taken by phone at (301) 582-0813, 7 days in advance, starting May 18, 2019.

May 25 & 26 – Spring in the Park, 9:00-4:30, Great Falls Tavern, Potomac, Md. Outdoor activities include Leave No Trace Workshops and dog friendly Bark Ranger programs. Music by the National Capital Chapter of the Music Box Society International (Sunday only).

*The programs at Great Falls Tavern are free, but there is an entrance fee to the park of $15 per single vehicle.

C&O Canal Spring Visitor Center and Lockhouse Hours

Stop in one of our visitor centers to speak with a ranger or volunteer and learn about the park.

Abner Cloud House, 4940 Canal Road, NW, Washington, DC 20007, First Sunday Each Month 12:00 – 5:00 p.m.

Brunswick Visitor Center (301) 834-7100, 40 West Potomac St., Brunswick, MD 21716, Thurs. 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., Fri. 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., Sat. 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Sun. 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Cumberland Visitor Center (301) 722-8226, Western Maryland Railway Station, 13 Canal St., Room 100, Cumberland, MD 21502, March – Open Daily 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., April – December – Open Daily 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.\

Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center (301) 767-3714, 11710 MacArthur Blvd., Potomac, MD 20854, Wed.-Sun. 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Hancock Visitor Center, 439 East Main Street,, Hancock, MD 21750, May 25 – September 1, 2019, Sat. and Sun., 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. staffing permitting

Lockhouse 24, Milemarker 22.8 (in Poolesville, Md.), Late April – early June, Sat. and Sun., 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Lockhouse 44, Milemarker 99.30 (in Williamsport, Md.), For hours of operation, call (301) 582-0813

Lockhouse 70, Milemarker 166.70 (in Oldtown, Md.), May 25 – September 29, 2019, Sat. and Sun., 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Lockhouse 75, Milemarker 175.60 (in Cumberland, Md.), May 25 – August 31, 2019, Sat., 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., staff permitting

Williamsport Visitor Center (301) 582-0813, 205 W. Potomac St., Williamsport, MD 21795, Wed.-Sun. 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Image – Make room for ducks! – Level 62, Oldtown – June 3, 2017


Volunteer Activity During Government Shutdown

Hello All,

As you have no doubt heard, a budget agreement was not made on December 21 and a partial Government shutdown is in place. The National Park Service is one of the agencies impacted by the shutdown.

Guidance was provided by the National Park Service before the shutdown went into effect and all volunteer duties are halted until the shutdown ends.

Volunteers are not allowed to serve in their volunteer capacity and the normal protections such as liability coverages are suspended. Note that the C&O Canal Association does NOT carry separate liability coverage for volunteer activity.

Volunteers will follow the same schedule as furloughed NPS employees and must follow the same restrictions as NPS employees. This includes not accessing closed federal buildings and not using any federal equipment or property, such as vehicles, computers or mobile phones, maintenance equipment or educational props.

Volunteers must not wear any NPS volunteer uniform or NPS volunteer logo item during this time.

During a shutdown, NPS staff will not be in communication with volunteers, and will not be able to check email or phone messages.

While I have not heard of any closure of part or all of the park, we are expected to observe all closure notices and not cross any barricades or area closed postings.

When the Government closure ends you can resume normal activities unless notified otherwise.

Thank you for your cooperation during this time.

Above – Lock 70, Level 63, November 13, 2018