The C&O Canal Trust is the official non-profit partner of the C&O Canal National Historical Park and works in partnership with the National Park Service to protect, restore, and promote the canal. The Trust seeks to ensure the Park’s  natural, historical, and recreational potential is fully realized.

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 Give Back to The Park You Love

The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park has many opportunities for our visitors who are interested in volunteering for the park. Whether your interest is in living history, bike patrolling, park maintenance, or staffing a visitor center, the C&O Canal has many rewarding volunteer jobs.

Throughout the country, thousands of individuals assist the National Park Service by volunteering their time and talents. These people who work side-by-side in partnership with NPS employees are called Volunteers in Parks, or VIPs. VIPs care about the parks- their past, present, and future- and care about the people who come to visit the parks.

Wherever they work, whatever their job, VIPs help the park service in its challenging mission: To conserve the parks’ natural and historical resources and to provide for their enjoyment in a way that will leave them unimpaired for future generations. Volunteer opportunities available at the C&O Canal National Historical Park are listed under “Get Involved”.

Check back with us regularly for upcoming volunteer opportunities! Give back to the park you enjoy, love, or want to improve!

VIPs Recognized for Assisting Parks

An extraordinary group of VIPs (Volunteers-In-Parks) donated 7.9 million hours of service to the National Park Service in 2015. These 440,000 people performed an astonishing variety of tasks which enhanced both park operations and the visitor experience. This week, the National Park Service and National Park Foundation honored the recipients of the annual Hartzog Awards for Outstanding Volunteer Service at a ceremony in Washington, DC.

“National Park Service volunteers are amazing,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “They are willing to do anything and everything for parks and ask for nothing in return.  Among many other things, they welcome visitors, lead tours, maintain trails, conduct research, plant gardens, monitor wildlife, demonstrate arts and crafts, and perform historical reenactments, and they do it all with unwavering enthusiasm. They are an inspiration to us all.”

The award is named in honor of former National Park Service Director George B. Hartzog, Jr. and his wife Nancy. Hartzog created the Volunteers-In-Parks (VIP) Program in 1970 with 300 volunteers. Since then, more than 4.3 million people have volunteered more than 1.4 billion hours of service.

The 2017 Hartzog Award for Outstanding Individual Volunteer was presented to Jim Tomlin from the Potomac Appalachain Trail Club. 

Jim Tomlin’s support of the park includes extensive work related to GPS recording and data processing.  This is related to his past career as a geophysicist with NOAA, and he is an expert in the field.  Jim is happy to share his expertise with the park. He has provided two-day GPS training sessions for other C&O Canal volunteers, which helped the volunteers hone their GPS skills to support park projects. 

Additionally Jim, working with the C&O Canal Association and park staff, led a team of “GPS Rangers” from the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club to complete an unthinkable and thankless project to photograph and record GPS data for all the signs in the park.

The 2017 Hartzog Award for Enduring Service was presented to Jim Heins from the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Site.

Jim Heins began volunteering for the park in the mid-1990s. He has served as a C&O Canal Association Level Walker, was one of the original bike patrol members in Great Falls, served as a boat crew member at Great Falls, and was a key factor in the effort to raise funds to build the current Great Falls boat Charles F Mercer.  Since then his level of involvement as a volunteer has developed into one of the most impactful volunteers this park has ever seen. Each year Jim contributes hundreds of hours of hard labor to remove and replace waysides and bulletin boards, install park benches, and battle the never-ending sea of invasive garlic mustard.