DOI / VISTA Team Projects

Hopewell Furnace National Historic

Rachel Rush

DOI / VISTA: Rachel Rush
Supervisor: Tim Fenchel
Address: 2 Mark Bird Lane, Elverson, Pennsylvania 19520
County: Berks and Chester County
Voice Telephone: 610-582-8773 x224
Web site:
Web site 2:
Congressional District: 7
Bureau: National Park Service (NPS)


The Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site preserves an early site of American industry, showcasing the transition from early natural resource extraction to enlightened conservation  Located within the Schuylkill River National and State Heritage Area, the site is surrounded by the 73,000-acre Hopewell Big Woods, the largest forest in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Showcasing an iron plantation and its surrounding countryside, the mission at Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site is to provide for the public enjoyment of Hopewell Furnace through a range of learning and recreational opportunities; to preserve and protect the old Furnace, Mansion House, and other resources that define the natural and cultural landscape known as Hopewell; and interpret and share the history of Hopewell and its people.

The DOI/VISTA project site Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site is sponsored by the National Park Service (NPS) whose mission is to preserve unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the national park system for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. The Park Service cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world.  At Hopewell Furnace a lead partner in the VISTA project is the Schuylkill River Greenway which manages the Schuylkill River Heritage Area.

About the Surrounding Community

The Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site serves the cities of Reading and Pottstown, PA. Reading was declared the poorest city in America in 2010; in 2013, 40.5% of city residents lived in poverty and 53.3% of Reading residents are Hispanic. Pottstown has an overall poverty level of 13.4%, but 50% of residents in the city’s downtown areas now live in poverty. Currently, Hopewell France is working to reach the underserved Hispanic and low-income communities of Reading and Pottstown.

Project Overview

DOI/VISTA Rachel Rush is working to engage at-risk youth and underserved communities in healthy futures initiatives at the Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site. For example, Rachel expanded the Centro Cultural Latinos Unidos, Inc., (CCLU) day camp into an overnight camping program that features a healthy futures initiative in nutritional programming around the gardens of Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site. Students learn the connection between the garden and the home and have the opportunity to take their own plant home with them to start their own garden. Rachel also works in appealing to the local communities with recreational program which engages at-risk urban youth in environmental education focused on the outdoors to spark an interest in environmentally based careers.

Sponsors and Partners

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