In 2011, the James River Association launched the James River Expedition, a program geared towards high school students in an effort to get them outside, up close, and personal with the river. On this river adventure, students navigate the James entirely by canoes, camping, and hard work. Along the way, they learn outdoor and leadership skills and are presented with opportunities to meet conservationists and river entrepreneurs from across the watershed. While the first Expedition was the only trip that spanned over a month, every Expedition’s week-long trip since then has been equally fulfilling for our next generation of environmental stewards.

As we embark into our ninth season of the James River Expedition, we are reflecting on the what makes the trip so unique. Time and time again, students have made life long friends, broken out of their shells, and taken a chance on the unknown of what this adventure of a lifetime has to offer. Some students have even been fueled to follow a career path reflective of their experiences on the river. As a former Expedition participant, and now James River Association’s Lead Educator, I can speak from experience on how the trip has the ability to impact a student in a tremendous way. After a month on the river with the first James River Expedition in 2011, I felt a connection to nature and a responsibility to advocate for its prosperity. As I go into my second season leading the trip, I am surrounded by gracious past participants, as well as excited prospective students who are ready to take on the challenge. I am thankful that the James River Expedition helped me find a passion that I was able to turn into a career.

The James River Expedition brings together diverse audiences and skill sets that are all advocating for the same cause: a thriving James River. Join us this summer as we continue the tradition of finding students a place in a continuously growing and passionate river family. Applications are open now until March 29!