Volunteer Spotlight: Meet the Sears Family

Laurie, Hazel & Helen greet visitors at the River Center at Lock 8.

Laurie, Hazel & Helen greet visitors at the River Center at Lock 8.

The Sears family - Ted (dad), Laurie (mom), Helen (16), Jack (19), and pup Hazel - connects people to their local lands, water and community history. As volunteer River Center Guides, they greet weekend visitors at the River Center at Lock 8 in Cabin John, Maryland.  The River Center is housed in a restored, historic lockhouse in the C&O Canal National Historical Park.

Learn why the Sears family became River Center Guides and what they enjoy most about their time on the canal.

Q. How did you hear about the River Center Guide program?

We received an email from Potomac Conservancy that described the need for volunteers to serve as Guides and help spread the good word about the Conservancy's great work.

Q. What made you and your family interested in becoming River Center Guides?

This seemed like a really great opportunity to help in a way that directly impacts our community, and to meet people in our community that frequent the tow path, trails, river and canal.  Plus, we've always wanted to get involved with the Conservancy - our schedules are sometimes tough to make it work, but here was an opportunity to spend a few hours here and there together in a positive way on a topic we all as a family care about.  

Q. Is there anything about the River Center Guide program that you are most excited about? 

It’s been a great way to learn more about the history associated with the canal, the river, and the efforts that have been undertaken to ensure this great resource is here for all of our community and people who visit the resources that are right here in our back yards.

Lockhouse 8 has some great information and presentations of information.  We love it when people walk or ride up on their bikes and ask if they can come in, is there an exhibit inside, or more information about the area.  It’s great to share in their excitement as they are learning new things, and we must admit, people of all ages are interested in seeing what is inside Lockhouse 8.

Q. What’s one interesting thing you’ve learned about the Potomac, the River Center at Lockhouse 8, or the C&O Canal that you would like to share with visitors?  

We've really enjoyed learning about the historical timeline associated with the Lockhouse and the canal itself.  This is information that is easy to share with and explain to visitors and it really seems to grab their imagination.

Q. If you could ask everyone to do one thing to help the Potomac, what would it be?  

Please understand that your actions out of eyesight of the river can have a significant impact, negative and positive.  Be aware that how you treat property in the Potomac watershed can negatively impact water quality for all of us and our ability to enjoy the river.  Thinking ahead can help have a positive effect on the river ecosystem and our drinking water.

Q. What are you and your family’s favorite activity on or by the Potomac?  

Well, some of us have taken to kayaking on the river, and all of us enjoy hiking and walking the trails.  Checking out things on the river or in the woods along the river at different times of the day has been really fun, as different animals are more active at different times of the day or evening.

Q. What would you ask next month’s Volunteer Spotlight?  

What wildlife have you seen down by Lockhouse 8 that has surprised you?  We saw a bald eagle and then an enormous turtle stretching out on a skinny log for hours in the sun, amazed that the log did not snap!


Are you interested in becoming a River Center Guide?

Potomac Conservancy is always on the lookout for fun and engaging volunteers to help staff our River Center at Lock 8. Learn how you can become a River Center Guide >

Get your hands dirty for clean water!

Potomac Conservancy would love to see you out on the shores of the Potomac. Find an upcoming opportunity to get outside for a cleanup by visiting our calendar of Upcoming Events >