A new park initiative, the Trails and Rails program Superintendent Charles Sellars the program was ideally suited to the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, through which Amtrak's Cardinal train travels.
“Being a part of Trails and Rails is a natural fit for this park,” Sellars said. “Volunteers with this program have a great opportunity to be a part of a nationwide effort to introduce national parks to train travelers, meet interesting people from all over, and get a free train ride.”
Trails and Rails is a nationwide program already instituted in other federally managed parks, including Gateway Arch National Park, Roosevelt-Vanderbilt National Historic Sites, and the National Parks of New York Harbor.
Volunteers will interpret the gorge for travelers between Montgomery, West Virginia, and Hinton, West Virginia. The Cardinal route extends from Chicago to New York City, crossing the Appalachian Mountains through the gorge.
Volunteer duties will include answering visitor questions, distributing park maps and brochures, and presenting various onboard educational programs that relate to the park's central interpretive theme of preserving the New River Gorge.
Program training on communication skills, customer service, and general New River information will be provided.
Sellards said the step-on tours are expected to launch in September 2024. The ideal volunteer will be able to commit to an eight-hour shift for intermittent days from mid-September into early November.
Schedules will vary depending on the number of volunteers recruited for the program. Other arrangements may be made for interested individuals willing to commit to fewer hours. Additional details will be provided later as the program develops.
The Trails and Rails program is a partnership between Amtrak and the National Park Service that provides educational opportunities for travelers on the heritage and natural resources of a specific region while traveling by Amtrak.
National Park sites across the country host teams of volunteers to help interpret passing historic and natural resources to the passengers.
Trails and Rails guides learn the nuances of conducting programs using the train's public address system, greeting passengers in the lounge car, and wandering through the train. Volunteers must meet Amtrak's requirements for physical fitness.
Interested individuals should contact the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve volunteer coordinator Adrienne Jenkins at email@example.com or 304-465-2634.
More information about the Trails and Rails program can be found at www.nps.gov/subjects/amtraktrailsandrails/index.htm. More information on other volunteer positions available with the park service, can be found at Volunteer.gov.