by Jordan Cramer, JRA Water Quality Intern

I had no idea going into this season that it would have been half as amazing as it has been. E. coli, river gauges, citizen volunteers: all these terms floated around my head, but I had never done anything like this before and truly had no idea what I was getting into.

Somehow, this summer, and therefore the 2019 season of James River Watch, is already over. Looking back over the past weeks and months, I have a wave of overwhelming gratefulness and sheer joy pour over me. This program took a scared college graduate and quickly shaped her into a much more comfortable, capable, and eager-to-learn adult.

As bittersweet as it is, I am truly thankful to every single person involved in James River Watch and the James River Association. Each staff member has molded me into who I have become in one summer’s length. Whether it was an every day interaction or once a month, they gave me the tools I needed to grow in this position and as a person. I could write paragraphs thanking each individual, but I’ll save your eyes from having to read a small novel.

To the James River Watch volunteers: thank you. I truly cannot verbalize how important you all are. I know sometimes it was hard to feel like you were making a difference, but each sample, at each site, during each week all came together to tell a story: a story about our beloved River and how she gets healthier each year and how we can continue to make strides in improving that health. Without you, the story would be untellable.

I am truly thankful to have been the water quality monitoring intern this summer. Myself and my coworkers pushed me out of my comfort zone countless times over the course of these few short months whether it was calling someone I didn’t know or canoeing through a rapid that was surely going to dismount us. I said yes to things that I never wanted to do, but am so glad I did, and I gained a passion for things I had never paid attention to before this summer. I met people I can lean on, and gained a list of role models as long as the JRA staff directory. Thank you James River Association, I am immensely grateful to have had this role.