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Callie Fisburn Recalls Her Year with the C&O Canal Trust

For the past year, I served as the Chesapeake Conservation Corps (CCC) Member at the C&O Canal Trust. This professional development program, funded by the Chesapeake Bay Trust (CBT), provided me with many valuable experiences and learning opportunities that will help me in my future career. As the CCC member at the C&O Canal Trust, I assisted with several programs, including Canal Quarters, Canal Pride, and Canal for All. I also assisted the communications and marketing team, writing several articles for the Canal Connection and Canal Quarterly.

For the Canal Pride program, I helped lead a private group clean-up in Georgetown in the fall, and led two public trash clean-ups along the canal in July. Under the Canal for All program, I organized two projects with our partner, the Montgomery County Teenworks program, in the fall, and in my very first two weeks, I led two educational programs for another Canal for All partner at Lockhouse 6. Due to COVID-19, I was unable to lead any in-person Canal for Allprograms in the Park this summer, but I was able to transition most the career development activities I had planned for Teenworks to a virtual format.

As a part of the CCC program, I successfully applied for a Chesapeake Bay Trust mini-grant for my Canal for All programs, and completed a capstone project. The objective of my capstone project was to create a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) resolution and advisory committee for the Trust. The DEI resolution that I wrote was approved by the C&O Canal Trust Board of Directors in June 2020, and the Trust is well on its way to forming a DEI committee thanks to the foundational work I completed.

While working with the Trust, I also had the opportunity to work closely with the
National Park Service (NPS), helping C&O Canal National Historical Park staff organize their annual volunteer dinners, and attending the Park’s Diversity Team meetings. I was also able to participate in some of the Park’s wildlife monitoring activities, including their annual deer population density survey conducted in November, and a bat survey with Maryland Department of Natural Resources over the winter. The ample fieldwork opportunities allowed me to visit almost every
part of the 184.5-mile Park, including many of its hidden gems and iconic spots. My favorite activity was the bat survey, which was also my first visit to the Paw Paw Tunnel, one of the most awe-inspiring locations the Park has to offer.

During the CCC program I was able to take advantage of several professional development opportunities offered by CBT and the C&O Canal Trust. In November, I attended the Chesapeake Watershed Forum, where I networked with environmental professionals in the region. I also presented a poster on my capstone project and won the poster contest. I attended three other conferences throughout the year and obtained my CPR/AED certification.

Getting the chance to work closely with both a small nonprofit organization and the National Park Service was the best of both worlds. It was wonderful to be part of such a unique program like the Chesapeake Conservation Corps and to serve with a cohort of like-minded young professionals. I will be moving on to a year of service with AmeriCorps at a regional development commission in Southern Vermont.