Perils of The Potomac

      As we creep into July, the days in the Capital region are getting hotter and more humid with little to no relief in sight. Our park has enjoyed weekends full of visitors enjoying the park’s splendor with their friends and family.


Andrea with some kids making river safety posters and doing “hypothermia tests” with one bucket of lukewarm water and one bucket of ice water.

  However, while the summer months are meant for recreation and relaxation, they often beckon us to search for watering holes in order to cool off. This is perfectly wonderful, just not at the Great Falls at C&O Canal. The Potomac Gorge, where the Great Falls are located, is an engaging scenic site where visitors can witness a fine example of the beauty of mother nature. Yet, beyond the beauty lies a serious threat. Since between 2001-2013, 27 people have died on the Potomac river and many more have been injured. While signs sprinkled around the park warn kayakers, swimmers, and fisherman of the dangers of the Potomac; education is lacking.

Three kids who participated in our “Create a River Safety Poster” activity. These posters were hung in our visitor centerr to promote the river safety message.

On June 25th, the Great Falls area of the C&O Canal hosted a River Safety Celebration. Grecia and I developed a co-creative children’s activity, a walking tour with one of our most engaging Rangers, and safety information about the Potomac. We made contact with over 200 people,  some had never heard that you could not swim in the river. We received great feedback from visitors, volunteers, and park rangers about how awesome our program was.  The program was so successful that we are planning on doing it again at the end of this month and once more in August. I think the importance of education is applicable in so many settings. As we move through our internships and further into our careers, education and outreach are going to be instrumental to achieving desired outcomes. By using teaching and education methods to communicate safety, diversity, inclusion, justice, and conservation, we are not only shedding light on these subjects but helping create a more knowledgeable society. Here is a link to a really amazing infographic about river safety and the Potomac.  

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