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HCC student interns at C&O Canal

Melissa Jones

Hagerstown Community College student Melissa Jones, of Hagerstown, recently completed a summer internship at the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal National Historical Park.

During her internship, Jones, 29, served as an interpretive intern at the C&O Canal where she helped conduct research to develop a new program for the Amtrak Capital Limited Line that runs from Cumberland to Washington, D.C. As part of the Amtrak program, volunteers will share canal history with passengers as the train travels along the canal.

According to Jones, she came to HCC specifically with the goal of working for the National Park Service. “The internship was perfect because it gave me a taste of exactly what I hope to be doing in my career,” says Jones. “It was a ‘real 40 hours a week’ position, which gave me the opportunity to experience the many different tasks that I will be asked to do when I become a ranger.”

Jones says that her favorite part of the internship was meeting and interacting with canal visitors. “Whether they were there for recreation or to learn about the amazing history of the C&O Canal, it was such a pleasure to meet so many people from so many different places. It was incredibly rewarding to see others enjoying the park as much as I do and it’s fantastic to know that I can personally be a part of helping each visitor have an excellent experience at America’s greatest treasure – our national parks.”

Prior to completing her internship, Jones and her fellow intern, Ben Guell, helped a visitor in distress at Maryland Heights near Harpers Ferry, W.Va. According to Curt Gaul, west district ranger at the C&O Canal NHP, Jones and Guell were approached by a visitor running down from Maryland Heights. The visitor was a leader of a youth group and one of the youths was suffering from heat exhaustion. Jones and Guell immediately called dispatch to report the situation and request medical support and ranger backup.

“When they reached her, the youth was unresponsive and due to the severity of the situation, Ben ran back down the trail so that he could get radio contact and report the status to dispatch. Melissa stayed with the youth and tried to make the girl comfortable while they waited for the medical unit and the rangers to arrive. Kudos to both Melissa and Ben for their quick action,” said Gaul.

Jones will graduate from HCC in spring 2012. After graduation, she plans to transfer to Shepherd University where she will complete a bachelor’s in history with a concentration in public history. After graduating from Shepherd, she plans to apply for a full-time position with the National Park Service.

To find out more about student internships with the National Park Service or other area businesses, contact Internship and Job Services Coordinator Bonnie Saunders at 240-500-2260, or by emailing basaunders@hagerstowncc.edu.