The James River Leadership Academy (JRLA) students start off their second session with a beautiful ride on our pontoon boat from the ferry landing at Presquile National Wildlife Refuge traveling west towards the City of Richmond. The main conversations during this trip revolved around the impacts large corporations can have on our river. JRLA students gained an understanding of impacts including; biodiversity, thermal pollution, excess nutrient runoff, and the leaching of heavy metals into our fresh sources of water.

When we arrived back at the James River Ecology School the students prepared for an action-packed two-day session. Students participated in two team building activities, revisited InnerWill leadership training from session 1, brainstormed community capstone ideas, and students and staff investigated the wetlands of Presquile National Wildlife Refuge in canoes.  They had a blast with a leadership building activity called “Eyes, Voice, & Body.” The student’s objective is to commutate effectively with one another and retrieve an object, (one student can see but cannot walk or talk, one student can talk but cannot see or walk, & the third student can walk but cannot see or talk.) This allows our students to display different forms of commutation and leadership skills in a fun interactive game with their peers.

The InnerWill leadership training review focused on the student’s personality profile from Igniter, emotional intelligence, addressing what is leadership, and leading from our core values. JRLA staff worked with students through several brainstorming activities to help them think more critically within their community capstone projects. Over the course of Saturday and Sunday; our students hike over three miles on Presquile, paddle into the wetlands, experience the abundance of migratory waterfowl, participate in a wetland’s educational lesson, experienced both a sunrise and a night hike, and cleared more than ten trees from two invasive species. Our JRLA students walk out of session 2 with a great understanding of how to implement a meaningful community capstone project.

Leadership is about the art of motivating, influencing and directing people so that they work together to achieve the goals of the program. It’s important for students to experience leadership opportunities, to learn the art of building relationships within teams, defining identities and achieving tasks effectively. It also provides an opportunity to identify and display effective communication and interpersonal skills.

The James River Leadership Academy staff and students will unite again on January 25th, 2020.