ORGANIZATION HIGHLIGHTS: Hopewell Furnace is a National Historic Site operated by the National Park Service as one of the finest examples of a restored charcoal burning cold blast iron furnace and its surrounding community. Such "iron plantations" played a crucial role in the development of southeastern Pennsylvania and laid the foundations for the industrial development of this country. Hopewell Furnace operated from 1771 until 1883, spanning several generations of that development, from its infancy in the colonial period to the creation of the steel and railroad industries of the 19th century.
AREA: Located in southeastern Pennsylvania, just 15 miles from Reading ("the outlet capital of the world") and 45 miles west of Philadelphia, but still in a very rural area. Hopewell Furnace is bordered on three sides by 7,500 acre French Creek State Park and is close to Pennsylvania Dutch Country.
JOB TITLE: Volunteer Host - While we do not have a campground at Hopewell Furnace, we do have a campsite with full hook-ups where “Volunteer Hosts” have stayed since 1993. Instead of hosting a campground, our volunteers host our visitor center and participate in our living history program. They sometimes perform maintenance, curatorial, clerical & research duties as well.
DATES: Dates are variable, full or part time, depending on which duties volunteers perform. Volunteer opportunities are available year round. Generally positions last 3 to 4 months at a minimum of 20 hours per week. The duration of voluntary service at Hopewell Furnace is determined by the needs of the site and the interests of volunteers. However, the amount of time donated by each volunteer is ultimately at the discretion of the volunteer. An Agreement for Voluntary Services can be terminated at any time by either the volunteer or the park’s volunteer coordinator.
DUTIES: Our volunteer hosts spend most of their time welcoming visitors to Hopewell Furnace. Duties include collecting entrance fees, orienting visitors to the park, conducting book sales, giving introductory talks, operating the park’s orientation program, and answering questions. Host couples have also participated in our summer living history programs. While in appropriate period dress, they demonstrate various activities commonly performed by the men and women who lived and worked at Hopewell Furnace.
Hopewell Furnace features demonstrations of molding & casting, charcoal making, blacksmithing, farming, cooking, baking, sewing, spinning, knitting, and weaving. The interpretive program includes an active farm with livestock. In addition, Hopewell Furnace conducts its own charcoal burn twice a year in an effort to preserve the otherwise lost skill of producing charcoal from cord wood while providing the fuel needed for molding & casting and blacksmithing demonstrations.
In the fall and the spring Hopewell Furnace is active with guided tours and participatory education programs for hundreds of area school children. Host couples may also assist with these education program activities. Volunteer Hosts have performed clerical work and museum duties, including accessioning, cataloging, and historic housekeeping as well. Host couples also have the opportunity to work in the maintenance field performing duties such as painting, repairing historic structures, and splitting wood for charcoal burns. They may also work with the Facility Manager on inventories, condition assessments, and administrative functions.
SKILLS: Knowledge, Skills & Abilities in the following areas are helpful, but not required: Cultural Resources - history, archeology, or museum studies. Historical Interpretation - history, theater, communications, or park management. Maintenance – architecture, historic preservation, landscaping, carpentry, woodworking. All volunteers must show a willingness to work and get along with a wide variety of co-workers and visitors. A genuine desire to insure that each visitor has an enjoyable experience at Hopewell Furnace is essential. Volunteers must be flexible enough to handle variations in work routine caused by shifting priorities and visitor needs.
COMPENSATION: No financial compensation. A great opportunity to learn through on-the-job experience about the daily operations of a National Park and the skills required for historical interpretation, visitor center operations, cultural resource preservation and management, and maintenance activities.
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The park has a campsite with full hook-ups (water, electric, sewer), which can accommodate one small RV. We are not set up to handle any trailers, fifth-wheels, or motor homes with an overall length of more than 35 feet.
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