Although this school year looks a little different, The James River Association is still committed to offering our students the best environmental education at this time. Our Education program still works to connect youth with river-based learning experiences that inspire confidence, ecological understanding, nature appreciation, and conservation action. Our educators are navigating current challenges with solutions like our new virtual classroom, Fun Friday days with small groups in Lynchburg, and guided canoe paddles in the Richmond area (for adults!) 
This fall as students return to school and we all enjoy the last bit of warmth on the river, we wanted to you to (virtually) meet each of our educators to witness their passion for the James, and for the environment yourself. Meet James Abbott, JRA Environmental educator in the Williamsburg area.


Growing up in the Tidewater of Virginia, the James River, and it’s watershed was an incredible natural backdrop to grow up with. Many of my first outdoor experiences were in the marshes along its banks or on the trails in its western mountains. I left for the University of North Carolina at Wilmington where I earned a BS in Biology and MS in Environmental Science becoming a researcher and conservation biologist. I spent the next several years working on a Marine Corps base monitoring and managing populations of endangered species such as, Loggerhead sea turtle and Red cockaded woodpecker. I also conducted several research projects on the ecology of bird populations helping to protect critical habitats of southeastern river systems. This culminated in my graduate work leading expeditions to study the food webs of the upper Bladen River in Belize. Through all of these research projects I became increasingly aware that science we were doing would not elicit change without dedicated education. I got more involved in environmental education eventually choosing it as the specialty of my master’s degree.

I joined the James River Association education team in 2017. I was excited to have the opportunity to give back to the river and region that sparked my passion for the natural world. It is humbling and rewarding to be a part of many students first ever experiences on the water. I try to illicit care and understanding of the river in students through my passion every single day. I am part of JRA’s Williamsburg education team. Beyond our education programing I work with our Leadership academy students as a mentor and help lead the lower leg of our Expedition series. I am a regular trip leader for our James City County Connect with the James paddles.
We have a few bird and wildlife paddles coming up that I hope to see you on!

- James Abbott

Environmental Educator