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Souders, other youths pitch in to keep towpath in tiptop shape

July 13, 2006|by MARLO BARNHART

HANCOCK - It can be hot, sweaty work and often quite labor intensive, but Jorden Souders said she wouldn't have it any other way.

Jorden is working with the Youth Conservation Corps this summer, and has been assigned to the C&O Canal National Park maintenance office in Hancock.

"I was looking for work, and a friend of my family got me an application," Jorden said. "There are five of us here."

One other youth is from Little Orleans, Md., while the others are from Hancock and Berkeley Springs, W.Va.

Working Monday through Friday each week, Jorden and the other youths cut overgrown bushes and branches along the towpath, paint, pick up trash along the canal and the campsites, weed, rake, clean up the maintenance building and even sweep floors.

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Jorden, who said she doesn't mind the bugs and somehow is immune to poison ivy, insists she loves outdoor work, and there has been plenty of that this summer.

"We each have helmets, gloves, safety glasses and ear plugs," Jorden said. "They are very safety-conscious here."

Generally, Jorden said the hikers and bikers she has encountered while working along the canal have been pretty friendly.

"The towpath is in pretty good shape," Jorden said.

After the recent heavy rains, Jorden and the other youths rode the canal to see if there was damage that needed to be addressed, and it was minimal, she said.

Dave Hixon, acting maintenance supervisor, has been with the C&O Canal for 23 years after two years at Antietam National Battlefield, both positions in the U.S. Park Service.

"We always have young people working here with the Youth Conservation Corps," Hixon said.

Hixon and administrative clerk Keith Alt are stationed at the maintenance building east of Hancock.

Jorden, whose last day is Aug. 4, said she has seen a lot of animals this summer, especially baby deer. There also were three black snakes, lots of turtles and squirrels, but no bears.

"We work rain or shine," Jorden said.

Lunches are packed and usually eaten at the work sites.

The daughter of Michele and Chris Souders, Jorden lives with her family in Little Orleans.

Jorden will be a senior at Washington County Technical High School this fall. She plans to attend Allegany College in Cumberland and become a labor and delivery nurse.

Jorden is doing her clinicals this year in the technical high school's health occupations program. Her ultimate goal is to receive her bachelor's degree in nursing.

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