If hard, rewarding work is calling you …

Join our team to help protect and preserve Virginia’s most vital resource. Our staff works hard to nurture the James, enjoy the James, and restore the river we love.

Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountains and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.

John Lubbock

Staff picking up tires

Founded in 1976, the James River Association is the oldest and largest river conservation group in Virginia, and the only organization solely dedicated to protecting and restoring America’s Founding River, the James River. JRA’s mission is to be the guardian of the James River – to provide a voice for the river and take action to promote conservation and responsible stewardship of its natural resources. To accomplish our mission, JRA’s two strategic goals include: 1) Achieving a fully healthy James River; and 2) Helping communities within the watershed realize the benefits from a healthy James River and support protecting it.

Lead Policy Advocate

The James River Association is seeking a full time position based out of its office in Richmond, Virginia, to lead its advocacy efforts on public policy.

Position Summary:

This position will play a key role in JRA’s work to influence public policy that promotes conservation, restoration, and responsible stewardship of the James River. The selected candidate will serve as advocate, liaison, and informational contact between JRA, local, state, and federal elected officials and agency staff, and policy representatives for business and conservation groups.

Duties and Responsibilities:

The Lead Policy Advocate  will develop and implement advocacy plans and strategies in support of JRA’s policy priorities. They will provide research and policy analysis and track legislation, regulations and decisions that directly affect JRA’s conservation goals. They will build and facilitate relationships with policy makers and external networks, coordinating meetings, agendas and presentations. They will work to influence policy initiatives at the local, state and federal levels. They will engage JRA constituents in advocacy initiatives and develop strategic partnerships with policy makers, relevant agencies, conservation organizations, and industry to advance the JRA’s conservation agenda.


  1. At least 3 years related experience with legislative and regulatory processes.
  2. Demonstrated success in developing strategies and executing tactics to achieve policy goals 
  3. Experience building coalitions, facilitating informational sessions, increasing internal knowledge and capacity, and identifying key stakeholders.
  4. Experience presenting to and communicating with government, private industry and program leadership.
  5. Experience researching information from divergent sources and compiling findings into a cohesive reporting structure.
  6. Experience in writing formal correspondence, drafting policy analysis memos, and interpreting legislative language and reports.
  7. Must have strong skills in communicating difficult technical issues to lay audiences, including elected officials and the general public. Must be able to professionally and effectively communicate and advocate for positions even when controversial.
  8. Must have strong initiative and be able to manage multiple projects concurrently, including schedules, budgets and reports. Must be able to effectively work independently with little supervision.
  9. Demonstrated ability to build and maintain strong credibility, both personally and organizational, with partners, stakeholders and policy makers, as well as aptitude to develop positive relationships and trust with potential adversaries.
  10. Personal experience with legislative processes, politics and government operations is preferred, particularly within Virginia.. 
  11. Working knowledge of federal, Virginia and local environmental and water quality laws is a plus.



JRA offers a dynamic and flexible work environment.  This is a full-time, exempt position. A generous and comprehensive benefits package is provided, including 4 weeks of PTO, 12 paid holidays, 4% 401(k) match, fully paid employee only health and dental coverage, Life and LTD insurance. Salary will be commensurate with experience; expected salary range $50-70k.  JRA is an equal opportunity employer.  To apply for this position, please submit your resume and cover letter by email to admin@thejamesriver.org.

Resumes will be reviewed as they are received.  The position will remain open until filled. Interviews will be scheduled with qualified candidates starting March 24, 2023. Otherwise, no calls or visits, please.

Seasonal Stewardship Assistant

The James River Association (JRA) is seeking four Seasonal Stewardship Assistants: two to be based out of Lexington, VA and two to be based out of Charlottesville, VA. The timeframe for this position is May 22-August 11, 2023, with a 2 week flexibility on start and end dates. Most of the work will be in the field with the option for office-related work to be telework from home and/or from a partner office in the Lexington or Charlottesville area.

Position Description:

JRA is seeking four Seasonal Stewardship Assistants to join our Restoration team. The primary focus of this position will be to perform site assessments of riparian forest buffers as part of the James River Stewardship Program (JRSP), which was launched in 2022. This program was developed to assess and perform needed maintenance on riparian forest buffers installed 3-15 years ago through the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) and the Virginia Agricultural Cost-Share Program (VACS). Assessments include visual observation of invasive plant species and native tree establishment, and light tree shelter maintenance at the select project locations. The position will be employed by JRA, but will also be working closely with Virginia Department of Forestry, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Soil and Water Conservation District staff. JRA will provide each pair of Assistants access to one vehicle to share, laptops, and supplies needed for assessments. Housing is not provided.

This seasonal opportunity is a perfect match for students or individuals wanting to learn about natural resource management, work with private and public landowners, connect with a broad partnership of conservation professionals, and get their hands dirty while improving the landscape for water quality, wildlife habitat, and human communities. Note that it will include a lot of driving, possibly working in extreme weather conditions and traversing difficult terrain. This position will receive on the ground training in Wilderness First Aid, plant identification, and buffer maintenance and assessment by JRA and partner staff. Interns based in Lexington will cover Rockbridge, Bath, and Allegheny Counties, and interns in the Charlottesville area will cover Albemarle, Fluvanna, and Nelson Counties.

Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Work with one other Seasonal Stewardship Assistant to assess ~200 acres of riparian forest buffer projects installed 3-15 years ago on agricultural lands
  • Data management related to site assessments
  • Work with one other Seasonal Stewardship Assistant to develop draft recommendation reports that include an invasive species management plan and replanting plan for ~200 acres of assessed riparian forest buffers
  • Meet regularly with NRCS, DOF, SWCD, and JRA partners 
  • Other duties as assigned such as buffer maintenance, blog writing, workshops with landowners, or other activities related to buffer stewardship


A successful candidate will possess the following:

  • Some experience (education or lived) in restoration, agriculture, or forestry
  • Interest in learning how to identify native and invasive plant types found in riparian habitats
  • Comfort communicating with rural and agricultural landowners and comfortable in farm landscape
  • Willing to participate in JRA’s random drug testing policy for vehicle operators and attendants
  • Ability to perform physical work, navigate uneven terrain, and work in various weather conditions such as heat, rain, and cold
  • A valid driver’s license
  • Computer skills, particularly in word processing and record-keeping (Microsoft Word and Excel), and familiarity with internet communication and search tools. GIS experience is a plus, but not required.
  • Excellent at problem-solving, meeting deadlines, following schedules, and overall time management
  • Ability to coordinate with partners and collaborators via email and phone
  • Strong communications, analytical skills, teamwork, integrity, and reliability

Compensation: JRA offers a dynamic and flexible work environment. Pay is set at $15/hour, 30-40 hours a week for 12 weeks. This position is part-time, non-exempt. JRA is an equal opportunity employer. 

Apply: To apply for this position, please submit your resume and cover letter by 5pm on March 17, 2023 by email to admin@thejamesriver.org or by mail to:

James River Association
Attn: Amber Ellis
16 South 17th Street, Suite 100
Richmond, VA 23219