As I look back on 2023, the James River Association’s education program has done amazing work throughout our watershed. Last year JRA worked with 21 public school districts and 11 private schools. We had approximately 17,500 students on field experiences and opened a newly renovated Upper James River Center where students will be engaging in a new dynamic space for many years.

Here are just a few highlights from the Lower, Middle and Upper James:

Lower James River Education Program

In March the Lower James education team was awarded a National Park Foundation Junior Ranger Angler Grant which gave students from the Hampton Roads area a chance to enjoy Fort Monroe National Monument, and explore the James River and Chesapeake Bay through fishing and outdoor environmental education. Many students in our education programs have never had the opportunity to fish – or even visit the river.

This second Williamsburg photo is a day that students spent with an engaging representative from the Nansemond River Tribe. Students were fascinated by what they learned that day. The Nansemond are the indigenous people of the Nansemond River, a 20-mile-long tributary of the James River.

Richmond Education Program

Monacan High School students were able to conduct water quality samples from a local tributary in Henrico County. When students conduct these tests (dissolved oxygen, nitrates, turbidity) they gain an appreciation of what environmental scientists do and why they are important.

Upper James River Education Program

One reason I love this picture is that all the students have no problem getting their feet wet. The best way to collect Macroinvertebrates (water bugs) is to hop right in the river. Students have a yellow kick sein net to the left of the photo and the other students are turning over rocks where the Macros live. We use a dichotomous key to help the students identify the difference between a Stonefly and a Mayfly.

The James River Association Education Team is excited for the 2024 year to begin! We have more environmental education planned and we are excited to have our students experience the James first-hand.